Over 2 million Muslim pilgrims prepare for hajj

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
January 8, 2006 17:18

 
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More than 2 million Muslim pilgrims raised their hands to heaven and chanted in unison as they hiked through a desert valley Sunday to a tent city on the outskirts of Mecca in preparation for the annual hajj. The journey through the 13 kilometer (8 mile) valley puts the pilgrims from across the globe in place for the start of rituals on Monday. As they walked, they chanted "Labaik Alluhumma Labaik" ("We are coming answering your call"). The pilgrims' march took them along the steps of Islam's 7th century prophet Muhammad who gave his last sermon in A.D. 632. on nearby Mount Arafat. On Monday the faithful will move to Mount Arafat, offering prayers of repentance and asking salvation and spiritual renewal. The next day, they walk down to nearby Muzdalafah, where they carry out the symbolic stoning of the devil.

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