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

  • Kiran Ridley / Barcroft Media via Getty

    Photos of the Week: Smoggy Santiago, Miniature Taipei, Mermaid Parade

    A watery rescue in Russia, dragon boat racing in China, a soap box derby in France, Hawaiian lava viewed from Earth orbit, flamingos in Kenya, a boxer dressed as a lion in Germany, and much more.

  • Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP / Getty

    Hats of the Royal Ascot

    A collection of photos of millinery miracles worn by Royal Ascot racegoers over the past few years.

  • John Moore / Getty

    On the Border With the Photographer John Moore

    A collection of images from the southern U.S. border by the Getty Images photographer John Moore, showing the landscape, those who patrol the border, and those who choose to risk everything to cross it.

  • Mike Blake / Reuters

    Photos: A Tent City for Detained Children in Texas

    Inside a port of entry facility in Tornillo, Texas, temporary housing has been built for the newly overflowing population of unaccompanied minors and the children of detained migrant parents, under the new “zero-tolerance” policy.