Millions of Muslims from around the world gather each year in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for a once in a lifetime journey. This pilgrimage, called Hajj, started this year on September 10th, and I was one of the millions in attendance.
Hajj is a sort of obstacle course of the sacred, which consists of five days of different rituals and prayers, often very physical in nature, in various sites around Mecca.
Before Hajj, I had never seen South Korean, Russian or Mauritanian Muslims. Regions that aren’t recognized as official countries also had pilgrims representing them—even Kurdistan had a delegation. Malcolm X described the sheer diversity of Hajj best in a letter he wrote after he made the pilgrimage himself: “There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood.”
Here’s a small sampling of the faces at this year’s Hajj.