Muslim pilgrims gather for climax of biggest Hajj since coronavirus
Muslim pilgrims pray on the plains of Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy), during the Hajj pilgrimage. Muslims from all over the world gather in Mecca for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam that must be carried out by all adult Muslims at least once in their lifetime and takes place in the last month of the Islamic calendar. Ashraf Amra/APA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
Muslim pilgrims pray on the plains of Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy), during the Hajj pilgrimage. Muslims from all over the world gather in Mecca for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam that must be carried out by all adult Muslims at least once in their lifetime and takes place in the last month of the Islamic calendar. Ashraf Amra/APA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa

Around 1 million Muslim pilgrims gathered on Saudi Arabia's holy Mount Arafat on Friday, for the peak of the biggest Hajj pilgrimage since the outbreak of the coronavirus two years ago.

Pilgrims arrived in buses early in the day to Mount Arafat, around 20 kilometres east of the holy city of Mecca. Pilgrims stay there until sunset in worship, praying and recitation of the Holy Koran.

The granite hill is the place where the prophet Mohammed is believed to have delivered his last sermon, around 14 centuries ago.

This is the largest pilgrimage since the coronavirus pandemic forced a downsizing of the annual event. It is also the first since the outbreak in which Muslims from outside Saudi Arabia were allowed to join.

Pilgrims this year must be less than 65 years old and fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

During the past two years, only thousands already residing inside Saudi Arabia performed the Hajj under strict social distancing measures.

Before the pandemic, around 2.5 million Muslims from all over the world usually gathered for the Hajj, Islam’s largest congregation.

One of the five pillars of Islam, the Hajj is mandatory for Muslims to complete once in a lifetime, if they have the financial and physical means to do so.

Saturday marks the start of the Muslim Eid al-Adha festival in Saudi Arabia and many other countries.

A Muslim pilgrim prays on the plains of Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy), during the Hajj pilgrimage. Muslims from all over the world gather in Mecca for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam that must be carried out by all adult Muslims at least once in their lifetime and takes place in the last month of the Islamic calendar. -/Saudi Press Agency/dpa
A Muslim pilgrim prays on the plains of Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy), during the Hajj pilgrimage. Muslims from all over the world gather in Mecca for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam that must be carried out by all adult Muslims at least once in their lifetime and takes place in the last month of the Islamic calendar. -/Saudi Press Agency/dpa