The fifth pillar

Published October 14, 2013
A Pilgrim prays atop Mount Arafat during the peak of the annual haj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca. – Photo by Reuters
A Pilgrim prays atop Mount Arafat during the peak of the annual haj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca. – Photo by Reuters
Pilgrims pose for a picture on top of Mount Arafat. Many pilgrims have taken to wearing face masks this year to prevent contracting the MERS corona virus. – Photo by AFP
Pilgrims pose for a picture on top of Mount Arafat. Many pilgrims have taken to wearing face masks this year to prevent contracting the MERS corona virus. – Photo by AFP
Pilgrims pray atop Mount Arafat, near the holy city of Mecca. – Photo by AP
Pilgrims pray atop Mount Arafat, near the holy city of Mecca. – Photo by AP
Pilgrims pray atop Mount Arafat, near the holy city of Mecca. – Photo by AP
Pilgrims pray atop Mount Arafat, near the holy city of Mecca. – Photo by AP
Piligrims touch a rock as they pray on Mount Arafat, near the holy city of Mecca, ahead of the main hajj ritual. – Photo by AFP
Piligrims touch a rock as they pray on Mount Arafat, near the holy city of Mecca, ahead of the main hajj ritual. – Photo by AFP
Pilgrims pray at the door of the Kaaba. – Photo by AP
Pilgrims pray at the door of the Kaaba. – Photo by AP
Muslim pilgrims gather near the Namera mosque on the plains of Arafat, near the holy city of Mecca. – Photo by Reuters
Muslim pilgrims gather near the Namera mosque on the plains of Arafat, near the holy city of Mecca. – Photo by Reuters
A pilgrim prays in front of the Kaaba. – Photo by AP
A pilgrim prays in front of the Kaaba. – Photo by AP
The tallest clock tower in the world with the world's largest clock face, atop the Abraj Al-Bait Towers, overshadows Muslim pilgrims as they circle around the Kaaba, in the holy city of Mecca. – Photo by AP
The tallest clock tower in the world with the world's largest clock face, atop the Abraj Al-Bait Towers, overshadows Muslim pilgrims as they circle around the Kaaba, in the holy city of Mecca. – Photo by AP
Pilgrims sleep on ground as they wait to perform the morning prayer in Mecca's Grand Mosque. – Photo by AFP
Pilgrims sleep on ground as they wait to perform the morning prayer in Mecca's Grand Mosque. – Photo by AFP

Hundreds of thousands of Muslims have poured into the holy city of Mecca for the annual hajj pilgrimage. The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is mandatory once in a lifetime for all Muslims, provided they are physically fit enough and financially capable of performing it. This year the threat of the Middle East respiratory syndrome corona virus (MERS-CoV) has raised fear of an epidemic, prompting many pilgrims to don face masks as a precaution against infection. An estimated thirty eight people have died in Saudi arabia due to the virus.

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