About 2 million Muslim pilgrims took part in the annual Hajj pilgrimage that began on June 26, making it the ‘largest’ Hajj pilgrimage in history. This year, Hajj was held between June 26 and July 1, with the celebration of Eid al-Adha on June 28.
One of the five pillars of Islam that is mandatory for Muslims to take part, the pilgrimage absolves sins, brings them closer to God, and unites over 1.8 billion followers across the world. In 2023, Hajj returned to full capacity for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic three years ago.
This year’s Hajj was also a challenge, as the pilgrimage took place in the nearly 45-degree-Celsius heat. Saudi authorities said more than 32,000 health workers and thousands of ambulances were on standby to treat cases of heatstroke, dehydration and exhaustion.
Despite being an expensive ritual, the annual pilgrimage is inspirational for many, even those located in countries affected by war, poverty or calamity. This year, four groups of pilgrims left Gaza for Hajj. Pilgrims from northwestern Syria streamed through border crossings with Turkey, while Yemenis took the first direct flight to Saudi Arabia since 2016.