MAKKAH - A sea of white-robed pilgrims from all around the globe began the first leg of their spiritual journey of hajj on Wednesday, October 24, moving to the tent city of Mina ahead of ascending Mount `Arafat.
Nearly three million pilgrims embarked on their slow and steady trek to Mina Tuesday night in the first leg of their five-day journey.
Spirituality and peace were in the air in the sprawling tent city which is surrounded by (Mountain of Light) and other hills.
Pilgrims poured into Mina with every hour, each group reverberating with chants of Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik (O God, here I am answering your call).
Once in their fireproof tents, masses of faithful, clad in the white ihram garb, busy themselves reciting the Noble Qur'an and praying.
Many try to catch some sleep -- after a tiring journey from Makkah that on average takes five hours - as they ready for the climax of their ultimate spiritual experience.
On Thursday morning, the pilgrims will descend the Mount `Arafat where Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) delivered his last sermon more than 14 centuries ago.
The pilgrims then will return to Mina after spending the night in Muzdalifah.
They will take part in the symbolic stoning of the devil at Jamrat Al-Aqaba and sacrifice animals to mark the four-day `Eid Al-Adha, which starts Friday.
Muslims from around the world pour to Makkah every year to perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.
Hajj consists of several ceremonies, which are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.