Hajj 2015: Millions gather in Mecca to worship, in stunning photos

Every Muslim with the means to do so must travel to Mecca at least once during their lifetime.

Although Muslims are welcome to travel to the Saudi city at any time during the year, the official pilgrimage, or Hajj, occurs over a five-day period from the ninth through the 13th of the 12th month of the Muslim lunar calendar. This year, it takes place between from Sept. 22 to 26, and over 3 million people are expected to make the journey.

A Muslim pilgrim uses a selfie stick to take pictures atop Mount Thor in the holy city of Mecca ahead of the annual haj pilgrimage
(Reuters/Ahmad Masood)

Muslim pilgrims pray atop Mount Thor in the holy city of Mecca ahead of the annual haj pilgrimage
(Reuters/Ahmad Masood)
A Muslim pilgrim uses her mobile phone to light up as she reads from the Quran after visiting Hera cave at the top of Mount Al-Noor during the annual haj pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca
(Reuters/Ahmad Masood)
Muslim pilgrims pray around the holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque ahead of the annual haj pilgrimage in Mecca
(Reuters/Ahmad Masood)
Muslim pilgrims pray on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual haj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Mecca
(Reuters/Ahmad Masood)
Muslim pilgrims pray on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual haj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Mecca
(Reuters/Ahmad Masood)
Muslim pilgrims pray on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual haj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Mecca
(Reuters/Ahmad Masood)
A Muslim pilgrim sits in a tent as he visits Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual haj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Mecca
(Reuters/Ahmad Masood)
Muslim people attend an Eid al-Adha mass prayer as haze shrouds at Agung Mosque in Palembang on Indonesia Sumatra island
(Reuters/Ahmad Masood)
Muslim pilgrims visit Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual haj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Mecca
Reuters/Ahmad Masood (Reuters/Ahmad Masood)

Much has changed since the Prophet Mohammed led the first Hajj in 630 AD.

The tradition, once fraught with danger along the road to Mecca, is now plagued by deaths closer to holy sites as millions of pilgrims attempt to worship at the same place at once. In 1990, 1,426 people were crushed when a tunnel connecting to worship sites collapsed. This morning, over 700 people were killed in a stampede in the nearby city of Mina.

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