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In PHOTOS: On Haj in the midst of Arab Spring

Last updated on: November 4, 2011 10:45 IST

In PHOTOS: On Haj in the midst of Arab Spring

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As one of Islam's five pillars, the Haj is enjoined on all Muslims who are physically able to carry it out, but this year the pilgrimage follows uprisings across the Arab world and growing tensions between Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite power Iran.

Home to Islam's holiest sites, Saudi Arabia regards itself as the guardian of Islam and assumes the responsibility of maintaining a peaceful Haj season when Muslims from various sects gather at the same place and time.

 

Although Haj starts on the eighth day of the lunar month of Dhul Hijja, which falls this year on Friday, November 4, most pilgrims come earlier to visit the holy mosques in Mecca and nearby Medina, where the prophet Muhammad was buried over 1,400 years ago.


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Image: Pilgrims circle the Kaaba at the Al-Masjid al-Haram (Grand mosque) in Mecca

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In PHOTOS: On Haj in the midst of Arab Spring

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Muslim pilgrims pray at the Al-Masjid al-Haram (Grand mosque) in Mecca. The Grand mosque is an annual destination for millions of Muslim pilgrims fulfilling the Haj

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Photographs: Ammar Awad/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: On Haj in the midst of Arab Spring

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A relative kisses the face of a Kashmiri Haj pilgrim before his departure for Mecca, in Srinagar. The first batch of 145 Kashmiri Hajj pilgrims set off on November 1 for the annual pilgrimage to the holiest place for Muslims in Mecca. A total of 8,300 pilgrims from the Kashmir region are expected to perform this year's ritual, authorities said

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Photographs: Danish Ismail/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: On Haj in the midst of Arab Spring

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Pilgrims on their way to perform prayers at the Grand Mosque upon their arrival in Mecca, during the annual haj pilgrimage, November 2

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Photographs: Ammar Awad/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: On Haj in the midst of Arab Spring

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A pilgrim reads the Quran outside the Grand Mosque during the annual haj pilgrimage in Mecca.

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Photographs: Ammar Awad/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: On Haj in the midst of Arab Spring

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A pilgrim carries an elderly person during the annual Haj pilgrimage outside the Grand Mosque in Mecca

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Photographs: Ammar Awad/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: On Haj in the midst of Arab Spring

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A woman carrying food for pigeons sits outside the Grand Mosque

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Photographs: Ammar Awad/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: On Haj in the midst of Arab Spring

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A pilgrim lies on the road after prayers at the Grand Mosque.

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Photographs: Ammar Awad/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: On Haj in the midst of Arab Spring

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Pilgrims circle the Kaaba at the Al-Masjid al-Haram (Grand mosque) in Mecca. The Grand mosque is an annual destination for millions of Muslim pilgrims fulfilling the Haj

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Photographs: Ammar Awad/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: On Haj in the midst of Arab Spring

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Pilgrims make their way to perform prayers at the Grand Mosque upon their arrival in Mecca during the annual haj pilgrimage

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Photographs: Ammar Awad/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: On Haj in the midst of Arab Spring

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A child cries as she hugs her father, as he prepares to depart for Mecca on his Haj pilgrim from the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu

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Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters
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Haj pilgrims cry as they prepare to depart for Mecca from the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu

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Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters
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