Muslims Gather At Mount Arafat

Mount Arafat, HajjThe annual hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia has reached its climax with 1.5 million Muslims gathering at Mount Arafat to offer day-long prayers and recitations from the Koran.

The pilgrims congregated from sunrise at the site and the vast plain which surrounds it, about 15 kilometres from Mecca.

Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad gave his last sermon at this location.

The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, which all Muslims are called upon to perform at least once.

Reports suggest Saudi Arabia’s top cleric, Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, would not deliver the traditional hajj sermon for the first time in 35 years because of health complications.

Iran has boycotted this year’s pilgrimage.

Saudi Arabia and Iran do not have diplomatic relations and are at loggerheads over a series of regional issues including the conflicts in Yemen and Syria.