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 ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Gianluigi Guercia / AFP / Getty

    The Opening of 'The World’s Most Useless Airport' in Remote Saint Helena

    Last weekend, the tiny and isolated British island of Saint Helena welcomed its first scheduled commercial flight from South Africa.

  • Bettmann / Getty

    40 Years Ago: A Look Back at 1977

    Four decades ago Jimmy Carter was sworn in as the 39th president of the U.S., the original Star Wars movie was released in theaters, and much more.

  • Jae C. Hong / AP

    Deadly Wildfires Continue Across Northern California

    More than a dozen wildfires burning across Northern California have destroyed at least 5,700 structures and are being blamed for 40 deaths.

  • Paula Bronstein / Getty

    Photos of the Week: 10/7–10/13

    Wildfires rage across California, the World Solar Challenge race in Australia, a show by the Swiss Air Force in the Alps, and much more.

Join the Discussion