INCREDIBLE photos show TWO MILLION take part in Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca

We have eradicated terrorism, its funders: Saudi Arabia

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During the hajj, pilgrims are expected to shed symbols of materialism, though the trip itself can be quite expensive for most. Hundreds of thousands more have been turned away by security forces for lack of permit to perform Hajj.

Upwards of a million pilgrims sit on the mountain, blanketing the site in white, while umbrellas used to shield the worshippers from the sun provide flashes of color.

THESE incredible aerial pictures show tens of thousands of Muslims gathering on Mount Arafat for the the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca - two years after a deadly stampede killed more than 2,000 people.

"It is, therefore, not only advisable but necessary for our pilgrims to seize this rare opportunity the Arafat Day offers to offer prayers for our nation to overcome these challenges and for all development plans and policies initiated by government to start yielding fruits but that we as citizens should rededicate ourselves to the service of our country".

The King also exchanged handshake and pleasantries with President of the Nigerian Senate Dr. Bukola Saraki; Niger's National Assembly President Ousseini Tinni; Mauritius Vice Prime Minister Showkutally Soodhun; Bangladesh's former President Hussain Mohammed Ershad among others.

His sister, 27-year-old Anisa, said she was anxious by reports of an uptick in violence against Muslims in the United States "just because of wearing hijab (headscarf) in the streets or just because you have a beard".

"God gave us minds and tongues so we can understand each other and talk about our problems", he said.

Sheikh Saad al-Shathri, a senior Saudi cleric, delivered a midday sermon denouncing terrorism and violence against civilians.

Ragie - who completed Haj in 2009 - urged greater efforts once the pilgrimage ends. Ask God to bring believers into the lives of those who take part in the Hajj this year.

Tight security was in place to safeguard this year's pilgrimage launched on Wednesday, with authorities saying they had deployed more than 100,000 personnel to oversee the hajj.

Saudi Arabia, which stakes its reputation on its guardianship of Islam's holiest sites and organising the haj, has been hit by bombings in recent years and uncovered plots to carry out attacks in Mecca.

The prayer session which was held at Makkah shortly before leaving for Mina and coordinated by the Amirul Hajj and Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dr. AbdulHakeem AbdluLateef drew tears from both male and female pilgrims, crying unto Allah for safety and acceptable hajj rites.

Abdelhadi Abu Gharib, a young Egyptian pilgrim, prayed in Muzdalifa before collecting stones for Friday's ritual.

"I went up last night and prayed, taking pictures and calling my family and friends", said Maia, 32-year-old from Jakarta.

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