Muslims around the world celebrate Eid as Hajj comes to an end
Over 2 million Muslims took part in this year's Hajj pilgrimage and millions more celebrate Eid al-Adha as Hajj season winds down
Palestinians pray at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s old city on the first day of Eid al-Adha (AFP)
Published date: 13 February 2015 01:30 UTC | Last update: 5 years ago
Over two million Muslims took part in the the Islamic pilgrimage of Hajj in Saudi Arabia this year. On Saturday this culminated in the start of Eid al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice, which is celebrated by Muslims around the world
On Friday, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims flocked to Mount Arafat, or the Mountain of Mercy, where they stood for hours in prayer, contemplation and in a state of repentance for past sins.
Images of the mountain covered in pilgrims all wearing their predominantly white "Ihram" hajj clothing have been shared widely on social media.
With the end of hajj approaching, men shaved their heads before taking off their ihram clothes, (two pieces of unsewn white cloth) leaving locks scattered on the ground. Women cut off small strands of their hair.
In conjunction with the ritual and symbolic stoning of the devil, the hajj faithful offer sacrifices by slaughtering a sheep, whose meat goes to the needy.
Nowadays pilgrims do not carry out this rite themselves, but pay agencies which distribute the meat to needy Muslims in countries around the globe.
A total of about 1.5 billion Muslims around the world were also celebrating Eid al-Adha.
From Lagos to Kabul, Manila to Moscow, Muslims took part in events to commemorate Prophet Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his son.
Goats, sheep and cows were slaughtered and prayers were at mosques and in parks.
In the Palestinian territories and Israel, Muslims and Jews marked holy days within a short distance of each other as Eid coincides for the first time in three decades with the Jewish fast of Yom Kippur.
Hundreds gathered for prayers in front of the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in east Jerusalem, amid a security lockdown.
This year's hajj attracted just over two million believers including almost 1.4 million from abroad, according to statistics published by the official Saudi Press Agency.
The balance of almost 700,000 came from within the kingdom.
These numbers are roughly the same as last year.
The hajj has drawn a cross-section of humanity, everyone from presidents - Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir was among them - to commoners including a wounded Syrian rebel war veteran, as well as rich and poor pilgrims alike.
The hajj, which officially ends on Tuesday, is the world's largest Muslim gathering.
It is one of the five pillars of Islam that every capable Muslim must perform at least once, the high-point of his or her spiritual life.