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Muslims to Mecca for Hajj amid sectarianism

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Muslims from across the world have come together for the start of the Hajj, a spiritual journey to the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia to visit the Kaaba, believed to be the first house for Islamic worship and which is intricately associated with the life of the prophet Mohammed. The pilgrimage is a religious duty which constitutes the fifth pillar of Islam and must be undertaken by every able-bodied Muslim at least once in his life. Every year around 3 million worshippers make the journey which lasts five days, during which they perform rituals symbolic of historic episodes significant to Islam. However, the Kaaba is not a focal point of worship in itself, rather it is regarded as a unifying element which unites all Muslims across the world, both during the Hajj and during prayer, when they turn to face in the direction of Mecca. Turkish Hajj pilgrim, Dr. Abbas Kermali: "When we say prayers, any part of the world, when we do our sajdah we do sajdah towards the holly Kaaba. It does not make a difference if he is a Sunni, he is a Shiite or whatever. We have to be brothers. We're all one. We are all under one umbrella." As members of divergent Muslim communities come together the perform the sacred rituals, many will be thinking about the recent wave of violence and growing sectarianism engulfing the Islamic World, as conflict in Syria threatens to spread and countries struggle to find a way forward following the Arab Spring uprisings last year. Turkish Hajj pilgrim, Dr ...
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