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Watch: Over 2 million pilgrims gather in Mecca for Hajj

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By Sinead Barry  with AP
Muslims on the Hajj pilgrimage circle Kabba
Muslims on the Hajj pilgrimage circle Kabba   -   Copyright  AP

More than 2 million Muslims have arrived in Mecca as part of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, according to Saudi officials. 

Many worshippers circled the Kabba on Friday and earlier in the week — the cube-shaped structure is the ancient city's holiest site.

Muslims undertake the journey to Mecca to retrace the footsteps of their prophet Muhammad, as well as prophets Ibrahim and Ismail.

The pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam and all able-bodied Muslims are required to make the journey at least once in their life. 

The other pillars are The Shahada (Profession of Faith), Salat (Daily Prayers), Zakat (Almsgiving), and Saum (Fasting during Ramadam). Many Muslims save for years in order to make this sacred journey.

During Hajj, pilgrims perform ancient rites and prayers with the aim of cleansing the soul of sin and bringing worshippers closer to Allah.

Additional sources • VIDEO EDITOR: Olivier Vigouroux