Hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims have flooded into Mecca from all over the world to perform the spiritual journey of Hajj.

One of the world’s largest annual gatherings and a central pillar of the Islamic faith, the journey is meant to cleanse the faithful of sin and bring them closer to God. Many people wait years for the chance to come to Mecca, either saving up money to fund their journey or waiting for their turn to be granted a permit among long lists of applicants from all over the world. Each country has an allocated number of people who can go to Hajj.

This week, worshippers at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, the largest mosque in the world, were preparing for the pilgrimage that starts on September 22.

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