Hajj 2012, a Sacred Journey

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 earlier this week, and continuing through Monday, approximately 3.4 million Muslims from around the world 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. The rituals and locations date back to the 7th Century, but much of the surrounding area has grown and changed radically over the years. For comparison, I've included several historical images of Mecca as well, dating back as far as 1889. The rest of the photos depict this year's Hajj and the pilgrims on their sacred journey.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.
Jump to Comments

Most Recent

  • Altaf Qadri/AP

    Photos of the Week: 1/17-1/23

    This week we have scenes of India's preparation for Republic Day, a new image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from ESA's Rosetta spacecraft, a Chinese home-made mechanical horse, K-Pop hopefuls in Seoul, a volcano that has been creating a new island near Tonga, and much more.

  • Kin Cheung/AP

    A Bioluminescent Bloom in Hong Kong

    A bloom of Noctiluca scintillans, a large, green marine dinoflagellate that exhibits bioluminescence when disturbed, shows an eerie glow along the seashore in Hong Kong.

  • NASA

    A Look Back at Apollo 16

    In early April of 1972, NASA was preparing to launch the Apollo program's 10th manned mission, Apollo 16—the fifth to actually land on the Moon.

  • Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters

    The Bahraini Uprising, 4 Years Later

    Bahrain's anti-government protests, violently put down in 2011, continue in different forms to this day. Opposition leaders face jail time for speaking out, while protests continue on the streets.

Join the Discussion