The three-day Islamic holiday of Eid Al Adha begins today, and with it, the end of the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca.
One of the Five Pillars of the Islamic faith, the Hajj is both duty and blessing to Muslim believers. This year, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture and Information has been live-streaming the pilgrimage via its YouTube channel, Hajj Live.
Anyone physically and financially able is expected to travel to the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca and perform a number of rituals to honor and submit to God and to reaffirm their faith. Mecca, where Islam’s prophet Muhammad received his first divine revelations, is the site of the Kaaba, around which the Tawaf, one of the Hajj’s rituals, revolves. It is a city where non-Muslims are not allowed.
Mecca itself has been criticized by some Muslims for being too quick to destroy historical structures and replace them with high-rises, leading some to call it a religious Las Vegas. The safety record of the Hajj has been criticized as well, with mass crushings and other deaths commonplace. A city of 2 million, Mecca swells to over 6 million during the Hajj.
For both those believers who cannot make the journey but wish to have some access to the pilgrimage, and for those who are not allowed by law to witness the rituals of the Hajj, this channel provides a way to experience a period of extraordinary import to over 20 percent of the world.
The ministry, through its Mecca Live channel, has also broadcast prayers at that city’s Grand Mosque, live during Ramadan.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons