Muslims begin pilgrimage

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Muslim worshippers perform prayers around the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca. AFP

MECCA (Reuters) – Hundreds of thousands of Muslims began the annual haj pilgrimage yesterday, donning traditional white garments and heading to a tent camp outside the holy city of Mecca in an itinerary retracing the route Prophet Mohammad took 14 centuries ago. Nearly 2 million worshippers, from nearly every country, arrived in Saudi Arabia this week for the five-day ritual, which is a once-in-a-lifetime religious duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it. Some prayed at the Grand Mosque before heading to the Mina area or towards Mt Arafat, where the Prophet is believed to have delivered his final sermon to followers.

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