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The Hajj and Eid al-Adha 2011

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The Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam and one of the largest religious pilgrimages in the world, is currently taking place in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Starting last Friday and continuing through Wednesday, some 3 million Muslims from around the globe are participating in several rituals, including the Tawaf -- the circumambulation of the Kaaba, the enormous cube-shaped building in the center of the Masjid al-Haram mosque. The pilgrims are are also taking part in the Sa'i, traveling back and forth between the mountains of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, and Ramy al-Jamarat, in which they throw pebbles at three walls in the city of Mina to show their defiance of the Devil. Directly after the Hajj, Muslims all over the world will observe Eid al-Adha, or the Festival of Sacrifice. The feast honors Abraham who, according to Muslim tradition, was prepared to sacrifice his son Ishmael before God sent a ram in his place. To commemorate this event, worshippers sacrifice sheep, cows, and camels, and share the meat among family, neighbors, and the needy. Collected here are scenes of this year's Hajj and Eid al-Adha, from Mecca and around the globe. [42 photos]

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Tens of thousands of Muslim pilgrims move around the Kaaba, seen at center, inside the Grand Mosque, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on November 3, 2011. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Tens of thousands of Muslim pilgrims move around the Kaaba, seen at center, inside the Grand Mosque, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on November 3, 2011. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
A Muslim pilgrim prays as visits the Hiraa cave, at the top of Noor Mountain on the outskirts of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on November 2, 2011. According to tradition, Islam's Prophet Mohammed received his first message to preach Islam while he was praying in the cave. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) #
An aerial view shows the Mecca Clock Tower as Muslim pilgrims walking around the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque of the holy city of Mecca during the annual Hajj pilgrimage rituals on November 7, 2011. (Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images) #
This aerial image taken through a window of a helicopter shows thousands of tents housing Muslim pilgrims crowded together in Mina, near the Saudi holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on November 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) #
Tens of thousands of Muslim pilgrims perform the evening prayer in Mecca's Grand Mosque, on November 2, 2011. (Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images) #
Muslim pilgrim pray outside Namira mosque in Arafat near Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on November 5, 2011. The annual Islamic pilgrimage draws 2.5 million visitors each year, making it the largest yearly gathering of people in the world. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) #
Workers embroider the Kiswa, a silk cloth covering the Holy Kaaba, in the holy city of Mecca, on October 29, 2011. (Reuters/Ammar Awad) #
Saudi police officers monitor screens connected to cameras set up at all the holy places in Mina, near the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on November 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) #
Tens of thousands of Muslim pilgrims move around the Kaaba, the black cube, inside the Grand Mosque, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on October 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) #
A man is silhouetted against the sun while selling livestock at a cattle market ahead of the Eid al-Adha festival on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, on October 29, 2011. Muslims around the world celebrate the Islamic festival Eid al-Adha by slaughtering sheep, goats, cows and camels to commemorate Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael on God's command. (Reuters/Faisal Mahmood) #
Muslims perform Eid al-Adha prayers at a mosque in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad, on November 7, 2011. (Reuters/Amit Dave) #
A Chechen boy prays in the main mosque in Grozny, Russia, during celebration of the Eid al- Adha, which Muslims in Russia call Kurban-Bairam, on November 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Musa Sadulayev) #
Muslims pray during the Kurban Bairam (Eid al-Adha) festival outside a mosque in Moscow, on November 6, 2011. Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha, marking the end of the Hajj. (Reuters/Denis Sinyakov) #
A Pakistani paramilitary soldier stands guard as Muslims offer Eid prayers at a mosque in Lahore, Pakistan, on November 7, 2011. (Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images) #
Indian Muslims offer prayers during Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, at the Taj Mahal monument in Agra, India, on November 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Pawan Sharma) #
Girls attend prayers marking the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, on November 6, 2011. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) #
Muslim women attend prayers on the first day of Eid al-Adha in Somalia's capital of Mogadishu, on November 6, 2011. (Reuters/Feisal Omar) #
A Pakistani man sharpens a knife at his shop in Karachi, Pakistan, on November 6, 2011. Eid, is celebrated throughout the Muslim world as a commemoration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son for God, with cows, camels, goats and sheep are traditionally slaughtered on the holiest day. (Rizwan Tabassum/AFP/Getty Images) #
Ethnic Turkish men hold a ram in Bucharest, Romania, on November 6, 2011, during celebrations of the first day of Eid al-Adha. Romania's Turkish minority inhabits mostly the south east of the country near the Black Sea. The ram was present as a mascot and was not sacrificed. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) #
The Grand Mosque is seen from the top of al-Noor mountain where the Hiraa cave is located, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on November 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) #
Water mist is sprayed over Muslim pilgrims as they pray outside Namira mosque in Arafat near Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on November 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) #
Muslim pilgrims pray in the shade of on of the minarets of the Grand Mosque, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on November 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) #
Muslim pilgrims climb a rocky hill called the Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat near Mecca, Saudi Arabia,on November 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) #
Muslim pilgrims pray on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual Hajj, outside the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on November 5, 2011. (Reuters/Ammar Awad) #
Muslim pilgrims pray on a rocky hill called the Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat near Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on November 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) #
Muslim pilgrims cast stones at a pillar, symbolizing the stoning of Satan, in a ritual called "Jamarat," the last rite of the annual Hajj, in Mina near Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on November 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) #
Pigeons cover the sky as Afghan men gather outside Shah-e-Dushamshera mosque to attend Eid al-Adha prayers in Kabul, Afghanistan, on November 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #
Muslims attend a prayer session along a street in celebration of the Eid al-Adha festival in Jakarta, Indonesia, on November 6, 2011. (Reuters/Supri) #
Ethnic Turkish girls from the village of Cumpana, eastern Romania, wait to perform traditional dances in Bucharest, Romania, on November 6, 2011, during celebrations of the first day of Eid al-Adha. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) #
A young Indian Muslim girl gestures as others offer prayers during Eid al-Adha in New Delhi, India, on November 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan) #
Kyrgyz boys ride donkeys during the Kurban Bairam or Eid al-Adha near the village of Shalta, some 20 km outside Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on November 6, 2011. (Vyacheslav Oseledko/AFP/Getty Images) #
Albanian Muslims attend special prayers on the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha in Tirana, Albania, on November 6, 2011. (Reuters/Arben Celi) #
A trader pulls a sheep for a customer in a market on Eid al-Adha, in southern Tehran, Iran, on November 7, 2011. (Reuters/Morteza Nikoubazl) #
A participant looks at her phone as Indonesian Muslims attend Eid-Al-Adha prayers in Jakarta, on November 6, 2011. (Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images) #
In rainy weather, Iranian Sunni Muslims perform their Eid al-Adha prayer, at the Jame mosque in the city of Agh Ghala, about 250 miles (415 kilometers) northeast of the capital Tehran. (AP Photo) #
A woman prepares traditional sweets for sale on the rooftop of her house, ahead of Eid al-Adha, in the port city of Sidon, southern Lebanon, on November 3, 2011. (Reuters/Ali Hashisho) #
People pray in Ashwaq village on the occasion of Eid al-Adha near the city of Tabuk, 1,500 km (932 miles) away from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on November 6, 2011. (Reuters/Mohamed Alhwaity) #
Muslims perform their ablutions in the inner courtyard of the 17th century Jama Masjid mosque in New Delhi, India, before early morning Eid al-Adha prayers on November 7, 2011. Thousands of Indian Muslims crowded in and around the mosque, the largest in India, to attend prayers in the first morning of Eid-al Adha or Festival of Sacrifice. India has the second largest population of Muslim followers in the world with over 150 million faithful. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images) #
Indian Muslims attend outdoor prayers to mark the festival of Eid-al-Adha in Mumbai, India, on November 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade) #
A Muslim man visits the graves of relatives during Eid al-Adha celebrations in Benghazi, Libya, on November 6, 2011. (Reuters/Esam Al-Fetori) #
Muslims pray during the Kurman Ayt (Kurban Bairam or Eid al-Adha) festival in the village of Shalta outside Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on November 6, 2011. (Reuters/Vladimir Pirogov) #
Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants living in the northern port city of Thessaloniki in Greece, offer Eid al-Adha prayers on November 6, 2011. For the first time in Thessaloniki, Greek authorities granted a public hall to Muslims in order to celebrate Eid al-Adha or the Feast of the Sacrifice, in remembrance of Abraham's near-sacrifice of his son. (AP Photo/Nikoloas Giakoumidis) #

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