Palestinian pilgrims arrive at the Rafah border crossing for Hajj
Palestinian pilgrims arrive at the Gaza Rafah border crossing with Egypt on their way to the annual hajj or pilgrimage in the Saudi Muslim holy city of Mecca. Rafah, Palestinian Territory, 03/11/2010.
The Hajj is the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is currently the largest annual pilgrimage in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God (Allah in the Arabic language).
The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th and last month of the Islamic calendar. Because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, eleven days shorter than the Gregorian calendar used in the Western world, the Gregorian date of the Hajj changes from year to year. Ihram is the name given to the special state in which Muslims live whilst on the pilgrimage.