Hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims crowded Saudi Arabia’s Mount Arafat on Tuesday, the climax of a potentially record-breaking Hajj pilgrimage.

As dawn broke, groups of worshippers recited Quran verses on the rocky rise, where the Prophet Mohammed (Pece Be Upon Him) is believed to have given his final sermon.

The ritual is the high point of the annual pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam, that officials say could be the biggest on record after three years of COVID restrictions.

More than 2.5 million pilgrims were expected to join the Hajj, one of the world’s largest religious gatherings.

Temperatures soared to 46 degrees celsius (113 Fahrenheit) on Monday as robed worshippers shielded by umbrellas journeyed from Mecca to Mina, where they slept in a giant tented city before the rites at Mount Arafat.

Tuesday provides the biggest physical challenge, as pilgrims will spend hours praying and reciting the Quran on Mount Arafat and in the surrounding area amid high temperatures.

After sunset, pilgrims will travel the short distance to Muzdalifah, halfway between Arafat and Mina, to sleep in the open air.

The following day, they will gather pebbles and hurl them at three giant concrete walls in the symbolic “stoning of the devil” ritual.

The last stop is back at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, where they will perform a final circumambulation of the Kaaba, the giant black cube that Muslims worldwide pray towards each day.


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