Qatar accuses Saudis of barring Hajj pilgrims, which Riyadh denies

Over 2 million Muslims kick off annual hajj pilgrimage

Though the border was open hardly anybody from Qatar could perform the pilgrimage previous year because of the hurdles and humiliation they were subjected to, sources said.

Pilgrims visit important religious places and perform special rites. During Hajj, pilgrims must walk around it seven times counterclockwise to ensure that the Kaaba remains on their left side. Amer estimates 60 people used each pod every day during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

One of the five pillars of the world's fastest-growing religion, the hajj this year runs from August 19 to 24 and is expected to draw 2 million of the world's estimated 2 billion Muslims.

Muslim pilgrims pray around the Holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca on September 27, 2014. "I hope the situation will be better, and I ask Allah to accept my pilgrimage".

After sunset, pilgrims head to Muzdalifah, half-way between Arafat and Mina, where they stay at least until midnight. The wuquf is the most important part of Hajj.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Hajj inaugural flight took off with 446 Kogi Pilgrims on July 21 in Abuja, followed by 382 from Nasarawa State.

The last three days of the hajj are marked by three events: a final circling of the Kaaba, casting stones in Mina and removing the ihram.

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But for hajj, which takes pilgrims across Makkah and Mina - two cities in western Saudi Arabia home to the holiest sites of Islam - the pods were also inspired by the rising popularity of car- and bike-sharing. "How can I undertake the hajj when I can barely afford to run a household?" They do this to honour the story of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), who Muslims believe drove away the devil at the same spot by throwing pebbles at him.

The Saudi Government had announced the figure, saying 233,000 of the total were domestic pilgrims now in Makkah, while others were being expected.

Pilgrims must dress very simply. Women wear loose clothing, cover their hair and forgo makeup and nail polish to achieve a state of humility and spiritual purity. Dressing this way is meant to show that everyone is equal before Allah.

Qatari officials have also complained that their nationals have been prevented from performing the Hajj following a blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia and its allies the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt since June 2015.

If a Muslim can't physically perform Hajj, they can ask someone to do it on their behalf as long as that person has done their own Hajj already. This is where the Prophet Muhammad is buried, in a big attractive mosque.

Efforts to speak with the representative of the hajj commission in Makkah, Ahmad Muhazu, was unsuccessful, as he did not pick several calls to his telephone line, just as he did not respond to text messages.


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