More than two million Muslims are gathered at the sacred hill of Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia for an intense day of worship and reflection on what’s considered the climax of the annual Haj pilgrimage.
The pilgrims will spend the day on Mount Arafat. By sunset they will move to the rocky plain of Muzdalifa to gather pebbles to throw at stone columns symbolising the devil at Jamarat on Sunday, which marks the first day of Eidul Azha.
Some had tears streaming down their faces as the men and women raised their hands in worship on the slopes of the rocky hill.
Other worshippers who had been praying in the nearby Mina area ascended in buses or on foot from before dawn. Some carried food, carpets for camping and fans to keep cool as temperatures rose towards 40 degrees Celsius.
“We can tolerate the heat because our sins are greater than that,”Zaid Abdullah, a Yemeni who works in a supermarket in Saudi Arabia said, adding he was praying for his own country.
Taxi driver Khaled Maatouq said he was seeking an end to fighting in his native Libya: “I pray that God unites us.”
Saudi Arabia has said more than two million pilgrims, mostly from abroad, have arrived for the five-day ritual, a religious duty once in a lifetime for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford the journey.
Among them are 200 survivors and relatives of victims of the attacks on two New Zealand mosques in March.