By Sarah Brown, CNN
(CNN) – Millions of Muslims began the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, which represents one of the largest annual human gatherings on the planet.
The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, a journey every Muslim is expected to take in his or her lifetime if the person is physically and financially able.
This year, the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca is hosting more than 2 million Muslims, about 1 million fewer than last year, according to the Associated Press.
Our iReport team has asked pilgrims who have performed the Hajj about how the experience changed them - and for their advice to those undertaking the pilgrimage for the first time.
The result is a mix of spiritual and practical life lessons that transcend Islam.
iReporter Amir Abdul Latip from Brunei said the Hajj taught him a patience that’s carried over to his life after the pilgrimage.
“I'm still not perfect, but the Hajj has changed my perspective on the temporal nature life, the universe, and everything else,” he says.
“Just be patient and always try to help others,” Latip says, adding that the Hajj helped “widen my views to see a bigger picture of our existence.”
Read more about Latip’s Hajj experience
Patience is an order during the Tawaf, a Hajj ritual in which throngs of pilgrims circle seven times around the Kaaba, a cube-shaped building considered the most sacred site in Islam.
The whole five-day event, which attracts around 3 million people, is slow going and sometimes chaotic.
CNN Explains: What's the Hajj?
“Several times things are not in control of the organizers – they try their best for pilgrims but they cannot do all due to some unforeseen circumstances,” said iReporter Muhammad Zafar from Simi Valley, California, who performed Hajj in 2011 with his family.
2. Down to earth
Ameer Hassoun, an Iraqi-born doctor who lives in New Jersey, said a key part of the Hajj is learning from other pilgrims.
“It taught me how to be very down to earth, to treat everything with humility, that there is no difference between us - no matter where we are," he said.
See images of Hassoun’s visit to Mecca in 2011
“People around the world share their own experiences from their home countries and so it’s a very fertile land for learning.”
For Hira Hasnain, a student in North Carolina who spent three weeks undertaking the Hajj, one of the most rewarding experiences was uncovering new aspects of her faith by meeting new people.
“It brings you closer, it provides a sense of unity.,” she says. “You realize that everyone around the world is striving to … achieve closeness to God and everyone has different ways of doing it.”
“Try to understand where everyone is coming from and your enjoyment of Hajj will be that much more meaningful,” Hasnain says.
Listen to more of Hasnain’s advice and see images of her hajj journey
3. Everywhere was white
iReporter Rafiu Olasunkanmi Yusuf, a Nigerian who works in Malaysia, said his 2003 pilgrimage revealed a “need to move closer to God.”
“Everywhere was white, that symbol of purity,” he said. “There was no distinction on the basis of race, country or color of the skin. One can feel the presence of the Almighty God as we perform the religious rites.”
Since then Yusuf, has tried to “devote more time to spiritual uplift and less time to worldly pursuits."
Haq, meanwhile, says his pilgrimage taught him to acknowledge God in “everything I do.”
“I pay close attention to my obligations as a Muslim,” he says. “My prayers, obedience to parents, fasting, zakat [gifts to charity - another of the five pillars of Islam] - I repent more often, and make more dhikr [prayers reciting the names of God].
“I also try to educate my Muslim and non-Muslim friends, co-workers and peers on Islam,” he says.
4. The hajj is hard
iReporter Amaan Haq from Woodbridge, Virginia, undertook his first Hajj in 2011 with his wife and said preparation was essential.
Read about Haq’s preparations for his Hajj
“Read and understand before embarking what acts are required from you,” he said. “The Hajj is hard even if you're young.”
The Hajj can be a physical and mental endurance test, with pilgrims sometimes walking miles each day. Haq advises pilgrims to take drinks or electrolyte salts to stay hydrated in the 90-degree Arabian sun.
Other iReporters recommended that first time pilgrims obtain a guide if possible, saying the complex sequence of rituals to be performed and the sheer size of the gathering can be overwhelming.
5. Just do it
Latip from Brunei said his final advice for those wishing to undertake the journey was to get going.
“Just do it,” he said.
“Don’t wait until you’re too old and frail,” he says. “And with costs rising year after year, it’s better to do it sooner if you can.”
That advice can apply to journeys other than Hajj, too.
A pilgrimage can be a wonderful experience. But we should never forget that we not only have a responsibility towards God, but also towards our fellow human beings – and they all have their own “Cities of Light” so to speak. One can even have several different cities of light at the same time
checkout hajj and umrah packages
One day in sha Allah I will visit Makka & Madina.
Make your travel to Hajj & Umrah with Ahmed Travel, UK's leading Hajj & Umrah providers.
When the ancient aliens came down they demanded food from the Earth's population. This was accomplished by burnt sacrifice – cooking – of the food for the aliens. Many ancient peoples did this, as well as bow down to the aliens and worship them as gods.
I think it's quite moving to see this mass of humanity on the move and interacting with each other.
President Bush after 9/11: "Our God is the God who named the stars".
How erroneous. Two-thirds of star names have Arabic names. They came from Islam's fertile period (AD 800-1100.) During that time Baghdad was the intellectual center of the world, open to people of all or no faiths. During that time were some of the greatest advances known to mankind: engineering, biology, medicine, mathematics, celestial navigation; this is the time and place that gave us numerals we use, terms like algebra and algorithm.
Enter Imam Hamid al-Ghazali in the 12th century. The fundamentally religious period of Islam begins, and so begins the steady decline of free intellectual expression in that area of the world. Some would argue that it has since never recovered.
As astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson explains, throughout history most of the great minds give virtually no mention to any god for their discoveries and explanations. (Ptolemy, Isaac Newton, Laplace, Huygens, Galileo.) That is, until they reach the problem they feel they cannot and will never fully tackle. Dr. Tyson demonstrates this with writings from the great minds in his talk "The Perimeter of Ignorance".
Perhaps that is all God has ever been – a placeholder for discomfort or frustration over the unknown. It's simply always at the perimeter of ignorance; an excuse when, for one reason or another, one gives up investigation. It is at that point of discomfort over the unknown when one should remember what humanity has already witnessed: that today's scientific explanations were often yesterday's gods.
Anybody knows what's inside that cube?
It reminds me of the Jewish Tabernacle with the Arc Of The Covenant inside of it.
"Ark Of The Covenant"
The cube is more or less empty. Nothing of significance inside. It opens up every year for delegates from around the muslim countries.
There is one significant event about the cube, that was birth of Prophet Muhammad's (p.b.u.h) cousin and his son-in-law inside when her mother was performing rituals around the cube then suddenly the. Part of the wall of cube broke open and th. Lady was pushed inside. After three dsys she came out with the boy named Ali.
Just a "Far Out" GUESS: The Borg???
“Whoever does any work on a holy day - put to death”
“anyone who blasphemes - stone him.”
“worship other gods - stone the guilty ones to death”
“stubborn and rebellious son - stone him to death.”
“man is found lying with a married woman - both of them shall die”
“virgin engaged to another man and he lies with her - stone them to death”
“Whoever strikes his father or his mother - put to death”
"Anyone who says cruel things to his father or mother - put to death.”
“anyone who curses his father or his mother - put to death”
“man who commits adultery with another man's wife - they shall be put to death.”
"man or woman who is a medium or a fortune-teller - stone them to death"
From the Quran? Nope. From the Bible
These are the rules God wanted everyone to follow when he set up all the rules.
I did happen to notice that:
while “man is found lying with a married woman – both of them shall die” meaning a single guy has relations with a married woman, they shall both die, and...
“man who commits adultery with another man's wife – they shall be put to death.” meaning a married man has relations with a married woman, they shall both die...
It never mentions a married man having relations with an un-involved woman (which in those days was like 12 years old), or an unmarried man having relations with an unmarried woman. Do you suppose these things were left out of the bible without some human beings desires?
how is this any different to painted aborigines dancing around the campfire and singing ritual songs to the spirit world?
wake up people! The bronze age has passed! We are in the 21st century!
It's bigger and holds a much greater risk for triggering a pandemic of frightening proportions.
Plus it's probably not as much fun.
Quran says (Islamic Scripture)
“God: there is no other god besides Him, the Living, the Eternal. Never a moment of unawareness or slumber overtakes Him. To Him belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. Who could intercede with Him, except in accordance with His will? He knows their past, and their future. No one attains any knowledge, except as He wills. His dominion encompasses the heavens and the earth, and ruling them never burdens Him. He is the Most High, the Great.” [2:255]
“There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces the devil and believes in God has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. God is Hearer, Omniscient.” [2:256]
“God is Lord of those who believe; He leads them out of darkness into the light. As for those who disbelieve, their lords are their idols; they lead them out of the light into darkness – these will be the dwellers of Hell; they abide in it forever.” [2:257]
“The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]
“It does not befit God that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, "Be," and it is.” [19:35]
“No soul can carry the sins of another soul. If a soul that is loaded with sins implores another to bear part of its load, no other soul can carry any part of it, even if they were related. ... [35:18]
“They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.” Quran [6:100]
Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to visit whyIslam org website.
mind numbing nonsense.
I looked at the site you tried to spam us with, "Universe". It's a load of baloney, as is most of the rest of Islam. Get out of the stone age already; you'll never catch up to the west if you don't push Islam into dormancy.
Catch up with the West??? Islam is responsible for major advancements in medicine physics math astrology and many other advancements in the world. Muslims did this Look it up. Yes the west gave humanity many advancements and everyone is grateful but don't so narrow minded
Not lately, Mika Abdul. They had a bit of a run of science achievements in the Dark Ages when the Church was anti-science, but Muslims have been pretty much left in the dust (sand?) since then.
And once again turning to the dark side of Islam:
As the koranic/mosque driven acts of terror and horror continue:
The Muslim Conquest of India – 11th to 18th century
■"The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "
and the 19 million killed in the Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C by Muslims.
and more recently
1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured
1b) Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh
2) 9/11, 3000 mostly US citizens, 1000’s injured
3) The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US troops killed in action, 3,480 and 928 in non combat roles. Iraqi civilians killed as of 05/10/2013/, 113,249-123,978 mostly due to suicide bombers, land mines and bombs of various types, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf
4) Kenya- In Nairobi, about 212 people were killed and an estimated 4000 injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.
5) Bali-in 2002-killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.
6) Bali in 2005- Twenty people were killed, and 129 people were injured by three bombers who killed themselves in the attacks.
7) Spain in 2004- killing 191 people and wounding 2,050.
8. UK in 2005- The bombings killed 52 commuters and the four radical Islamic suicide bombers, injured 700.
9) The execution of an eloping couple in Afghanistan on 04/15/2009 by the Taliban.
10) – Afghanistan: US troops 1,385 killed in action, 273 killed in non-combat situations as of 09/15/2011. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror
11) The killing of 13 citizen soldiers at Ft. Hood by a follower of the koran.
12) 38 Russian citizens killed on March 29, 2010 by Muslim women suicide bombers.
13) The May 28, 2010 attack on a Islamic religious minority in Pakistan, which have left 98 dead,
14) Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. In the United Kingdom the event is referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven townspeople were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane's wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of buildings nearby. The 270 fatalities (259 on the plane, 11 in Lockerbie) were citizens of 21 nations.
15 The daily suicide and/or roadside and/or mosque bombings in the terror world of Islam.
16) Bombs sent from Yemen by followers of the koran which fortunately were discovered before the bombs were detonated.
17) The killing of 58 Christians in a Catholic church in one of the latest acts of horror and terror in Iraq.
18) Moscow airport suicide bombing: 35 dead, 130 injured. January 25, 2011.
19) A Pakistani minister, who had said he was getting death threats because of his stance against the country's controversial blasphemy law, was shot and killed Wednesday, 3/2/2011
20) two American troops killed in Germany by a recently radicalized Muslim, 3/3/2011
21) the kidnapping and apparent killing of a follower of Zoraster in the dark world of Islamic Pakistan.
22) Shariatpur, Bangladesh (CNN 3/30/2011) - Hena Akhter's last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl. Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh's Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public. Hena dropped after 70 and died a week later.
23) "October 4, 2011, 100 die as a truck loaded with drums of fuel exploded Tuesday at the gate of compound housing several government ministries on a busy Mogadishu street. It was the deadliest single bombing carried out by the al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group in Somalia since their insurgency began. "
o 24) Mon Jun 4, 2012 10:18am EDT
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – A suicide bomber detonated an explosive-packed car outside a Shi'ite Muslim office in central Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 26 people and wounding more than 190 in an attack bearing the hallmarks of Iraq's al Qaeda affiliate.
The bombing on a Shi'ite religious office comes at a sensitive time, with the country's fractious Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs locked in a crisis that threatens to unravel their power-sharing deal and spill into sectarian tensions."
25) BURGAS, Bulgaria | Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:27am EDT
(Reuters) – A suicide bomber carried out an attack that killed seven people in a bus transporting Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, the interior minister said on Thursday, and Israel said Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants were to blame.
26 ) September 12, 2012
U.S. AMBASSADOR KILLED
Envoy to Libya dies in rocket blast
27) Boston Marathon horror – April 2013, four dead, hundreds injured and maimed for life. A
I don't think 6 m of Jews get killed by muslim you live in small box brother
Continuing the terror and horror with body counts:
o WHERE WAS YOUR GOD(S) WHEN THE FOLLOWING TOOK PLACE:
The Twenty (or so) Worst Things GOD'S CREATURES Have Done to Each Other:
M. White, http://necrometrics.com/warstatz.htm#u (required reading)
The Muslim Conquest of India
"The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "
Rank …..Death Toll ..Cause …..Centuries……..(Religions/Groups involved)*
1. 63 million Second World War 20C (Christians et al and Communists/atheists vs. Christians et al, Nazi-Pagan and "Shintoists")
2. 40 million Mao Zedong (mostly famine) 20C (Communism)
3. 40 million Genghis Khan 13C (Shamanism or Tengriism)
4. 27 million British India (mostly famine) 19C (Anglican)
5. 25 million Fall of the Ming Dynasty 17C (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion)
6. 20 million Taiping Rebellion 19C ( Confucianism, Buddhism and Chinese folk religion vs. a form of Christianity)
7. 20 million Joseph Stalin 20C (Communism)
8. 19 million Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C (Islam)
9. 17 million Timur Lenk 14C-15C
10. 16 million Atlantic Slave Trade 15C-19C (Christianity)
11. 15 million First World War 20C (Christians vs. Christians)
12. 15 million Conquest of the Americas 15C-19C (Christians vs. Pagans)
13. 13 million Muslim Conquest of India 11C-18C
14. 10 million An Lushan Revolt 8C
15. 10 million Xin Dynasty 1C
16. 9 million Russian Civil War 20C (Christians vs Communists)
17. 8 million Fall of Rome 5C (Pagans vs. Christians)
18. 8 million Congo Free State 19C-20C (Christians)
19. 7½ million Thirty Years War 17C (Christians vs Christians)
20. 7½ million Fall of the Yuan Dynasty 14C
II'm a member of the community attacked on 28th May.None of this has anything to do with Islam and everything to do with the foretold moral degradation of Muslims.Prophet Muhammad himself said,"A time will come when faith will ascend to the sky and only words of the Quran will survive.Muslims will read the Quran but the words will not go down their throats.At such a time the Imam Mahdi will come and restore faith." Our community believes that that Imam Mahdi has come.His name is Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani.If you have any misconceptions visit our website http://www.alislam.org
Everyone should click the "Report abuse" link for AvdBerg's spam. AvdBerg has had to be kicked off this site before and has a bad history of spamming here.
Only IN America thanks to our federal government!!! They own every gas station restraint & Motel across America TAX FREE!!! What a world wide terrorist net work!!!
^^ hillbilly rage ^^
Kind of unpleasant, but soon all will be well.
it'll be soon I hope
The King of Saudi Arabia provided a luxurious all expenses paid trip to Obama's grandmother Sarah Hussein Obama for her pilgrimage to Mecca. She was accompanied by President Obama's cousin Omran.
George W. Bush apparently let some of Osama bin Laden's family fly out of the U.S. right after 9/11. The Bush family and the bin Laden family were business partners.
Please support your comments with reliable references.
it was covered on every major news network around the world. audio. video. interviews.
reference enough for you?
Please do your own homework
Reality. I guess you chose the wrong name. This is one of the references from Google whih took me all of 30 seconds to type/review results.
Reality # 2,
There are plenty of references if you can learn how to use "Google".
One is on wikipedia for Arbusto Energy.
Nothing there about bin Laden's family being flown to SA by Bush. And I do believe that many members of the fractured family of bin Laden disowned him.
"Binladin, who says most of the family uses that spelling, is one of 54 children born to wives of the late Mohammed Bin-Awad Binladin. The family disowned Osama bin Laden in 1994, and Binladin says they have no connections with him. "
My cousin Alfie told me that Obama is scheduled to be on next season's "Dancing with the Stars".
Probably heard it on FAUX News.
Pretty interesting article. Pretty basic article though. I would be interested in what all rituals they do exactly and/or personal stories from pilgrims. I have heard rumor this is the biggest human migration as well as the biggest event of animal sacrifice in the world. Not sure if it's true, but it would be interesting to see CNN cover the spiritual, ritual, and other facets of the hajj. All in all, pretty good article though by CNN Belief Blog, thumbs up.
Animal sacrifices is a ritual in Hajj, yet the meat is sent all over the world to feed the boor. Unless, you go around the world an advise the poor that meat is harmful to their health, Muslims will continue to do the ritual. try to pick something else, you will fail.
See I would have thought it be taboo to eat sacrificed meat. I did not even know people were allowed to eat the sacrificed meat, nor that it was distributed worldwide. This is what I meant by saying I wish the article had a little more detail on the hajj, the ritual aspect, the sacrificial aspect, spiritual aspect, etc. It is merely an interesting human/historical/religious activity that isn't well known in the West, that I wish CNN cover more. This article was good though don't get me wrong, but it was mostly full of info everyone knows all ready. Thanks for the comment though Ali, you should share more information on the hajj.
The Quran states that "The meat of sacrificial animals does not reach Allah nor does their blood,but your taqwa reaches Him."
Allah does NOT need to eat,does He? There is no point burning meat,especially with so many hungry people in the world.
"25 Then take them from their hands and burn them on the altar along with the burnt offering for a pleasing aroma to the Lord" Exodus 29:25
There are 37 places where the bible talks about God loving the smell of a burnt sacrifice. I wonder why Christians don't practice something their God finds so pleasing.
Didn't you guys ever wonder why those dudes are all sitting on a giant hill with prayer books? I know what all of you atheists have to say about religion(s) but why do people praying look up. What's up there? We've got pictures of a whole lot of nothing.
But doesn't it look like something happened once? Even long long ago?
Zechariah Sitchin and Erich Van Daniken would agree with you!
LL, you are COF and what is the deal with all of these fucking movies??
I am from Singapore and have registered to go for Haj. My Q is due 20 years from this year, 2033. By then I will vector frail to go.
I believe participation is down this year due to the threat of MERS.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.