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More Than 1.7m Muslims Performing Hajj in Mecca

More Than 1.7m Muslims Performing Hajj in MeccaMore Than 1.7m Muslims Performing Hajj in Mecca

More than 1.7 million pilgrims started the hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday by circling the cube-shaped Kaaba in Mecca —Islam's holiest site— and performing a series of rites that trace the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Muslims believe the rites also trace the footsteps of the prophets Ibrahim and Ismail —Abraham and Ishmael in the Bible, AP reported. The Kaaba represents the metaphorical house of God and the oneness of God in Islam. Observant Muslims around the world face toward the Kaaba during the five daily prayers.

The hajj is required of all Muslims once in a lifetime. The physically demanding journey tests pilgrims' patience as they withstand long waits and thick crowds on their path to achieving spiritual purification and repentance.

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