Muslims prepare to perform Hajj pilgrimage
Muslims from around the globe are gathering in Saudi Arabia to prepare for the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
The Hajj consists of a series of religious rites that are completed over five days in Islam’s holiest city, Mecca, and surrounding areas of western Saudi Arabia.
Falling in summer this year, as well as past several years, the ritual is held under the scorching sun with a temperature around 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) poses a challenge to worshippers.
Before going to the holy city of Mecca to perform their Hajj rituals, Many Muslims will visit the second-holiest city in Islam: Medina.
Medina is the city where the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and a group of his early believers migrated to in order to flee the oppression they faced in Mecca more than 1,400 years ago.
This migration is known as the Hijra, which marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar.
Many verses of the Muslim’s holy book, the Quran, were revealed while the Prophet resided in Medina, and many important events in the development of Islam in its earliest years happened in this city. Also, the second largest mosque in the world where the Prophet himself is buried, is located in the city.
Famed for its green dome, Masjid al-Nabi or The Prophet's Mosque was built in 622 CE by the Prophet himself.
According to Islamic traditions, a prayer at The Prophet's Mosque equals 1,000 prayers at any other mosque. To the southeast of the Prophet's Mosque is a cemetery where many of the Prophet's relatives and companions were laid to rest, including four infallible Imams.
Therefore, although this is not obligatory, Muslims usually visit the Prophet's mosque at least once in their lifetime during the Hajj pilgrimage. Many Muslims say they feel more serenity in Medina than anywhere else in the world.