Hajj Begins as Muslims Seek Erasing Past Sins

(David Butow--Redux for USN&WR)
Associated Press + More

By AYA BATRAWY, Associated Press

MOUNT ARAFAT, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Muslims are starting their annual hajj pilgrimage by ascending Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia on a day pilgrims believe offers them a chance to repent their sins.

Saudi authorities say some 3.4 million Muslims from more than 300 nations are performing hajj this year. Thousands of tents on Mount Arafat, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of Mecca, accommodate the pilgrims. Many spent the night there before Thursday's worship.

Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad delivered his last sermon on Mt. Arafat, or the Mountain of Mercy, where he stressed equality among all of Islam's followers.

All male pilgrims must wear seamless white garments of terrycloth and seamless shoes to show the equality among Muslims.

Each able-bodied Muslim is required to make the pilgrimage to Mecca once.

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