One of the most awe-inspiring sights in religion: Hundreds of thousands of Muslims gather at Mecca for Ramadan
They have come in their hundreds of thousands, all devout, converging on one of the world’s holiest places.
This was the scene at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the birthplace of Islam, yesterday as Muslims around the world celebrated Ramadan.
The Grand Mosque houses the Kaaba, the most holy place in Islam, a square-shaped building that predates the religion itself. It is the Kaaba that Muslims around the world are facing when they pray towards Mecca.
Devout: Muslims around the world celebrate Ramadan – but the 27th night is the holiest of all as that is said to be when Mohammed received the verses of the Koran
A duty for every able-bodied Muslim at least once in his or her lifetime, the gruelling five-day haj ritual is one of the world’s biggest displays of mass religious devotion.
Pilgrims converge on the Grand Mosque and follow a route around the rocky mountains of the ancient city in line with a tradition established by the Prophet Mohammed.
The festival, which begins after the sighting of a new crescent moon, marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
During Ramadan, devout Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex from sunrise to sunset.
A worshipper (left) holds his rosary in prayer during Laylat Al-Qadr, the 27th and holliest night of the Muslim’s fasting month of Ramadan, in Mecca. And (right) worshippers pray around the Kaaba, the most sacred site in Islam