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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

10/11/2013 (11 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Another million are expected to join in Muslim observance

Two million faithful have braved the scorching heat to reach the Grand Mosque in Mecca for the annual hajj. It is a religious journey viewed by many as one of the Muslim faith's greatest acts of worship. Teeming with visitors wearing the simple white folds of cloth prescribed for hajj, the mass of people that have so far arrived at the Saudi Arabia site which reach a peak this coming Monday. Another million are expected.

Authorities have asked pilgrims to put politics aside during the annual hajj, but with the bitter divisions in Egypt, some of the faithful refuse to keep quiet.

Authorities have asked pilgrims to put politics aside during the annual hajj, but with the bitter divisions in Egypt, some of the faithful refuse to keep quiet.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/11/2013 (11 months ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Hajj, Muslims, Saudi Arabia, pilgrimmage


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - With highs near the 100 degree mark, many congregated in the cooler shadow of the building's minarets.

This was the scene today as millions of pilgrims started to arrive at the Grand Mosque in Mecca for

This was the scene today as millions of pilgrims started to arrive at the Grand Mosque in Mecca for Islam's annual haj.


According to the teachings of Islam, Haj must be performed at least once in their lifetime by all Muslims capable of making the expensive, difficult journey. This applies equally to Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims, even at a time of tension between Islam's main sects.

Muslim worshippers wait before performing the afternoon prayer at the mosque in Saudi Arabia.

Muslim worshippers wait before performing the afternoon prayer at the mosque in Saudi Arabia.


Authorities have asked pilgrims to put politics aside during the annual hajj, but with the bitter divisions in Egypt, some of the faithful refuse to keep quiet.
 
Wearing traditional cloth, people pray on a street near the Grand Mosque, which is the focal point o

Wearing traditional cloth, people pray on a street near the Grand Mosque, which is the focal point of the faith,


"What's happening in Egypt now is a disgrace. The army is killing innocent Muslims in cold blood every day," Zaghloul Hassanien, the owner of an oil products company in the Nile Delta town of Mansoura says.

A man with his prayer beads waits for the noon prayers near the Grand Mosque.

A man with his prayer beads waits for the noon prayers near the Grand Mosque.


Very much aware of the potential for current tensions to flare into violence at a time of upheaval across the Middle East, the Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef asked pilgrims to leave disputes at home.

Nayef says the kingdom had drafted 95,000 members of the security forces to maintain order. Saudi Arabia is currently embroiled in a region-wide contest for influence with Shi'ite Iran, with each side accusing the other of backing Syria's bloody civil war.

Keenly aware of the potential for political tensions to flare into violence at a time of upheaval ac

Keenly aware of the potential for political tensions to flare into violence at a time of upheaval across the Middle East, the Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef asked pilgrims to leave disputes at home.


Saudi Arabia has also given Egypt billions of dollars to help prop up the economy and support the generals who in July ousted a government led by Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Sunni Islamist movement the Muslim Brotherhood.

Haj must be performed at least once in their lifetime by all Muslims capable of making the expensive

Haj must be performed at least once in their lifetime by all Muslims capable of making the expensive, difficult journey.


Saudi leaders see the organization as a direct threat to their dynastic rule. Feelings are running high among pilgrims from the most populous Arab nation but they say they do not plan to cause unrest.

"Before coming to haj, we agreed not to talk about politics to avoid any problems in this country," a retired government employee from the Egyptian Mediterranean city of Alexandria said.

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