1. Where social status is forgotten
Once a year Muslims from all over the world make a pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia. This sacred act is called Hajj. Every Muslim is expected to make the journey at least once in their lifetime if they are able.
During Hajj social status is forgotten, and all pilgrims are expected to wear the same simple white clothing and perform the same acts of worship.
One of these acts of worship is particularly astonishing: thousands of people swirl counter-clockwise, seven times, around the most famous shrine in the Muslim world - the Kaaba.
2. The black box
The Kaaba is a huge black stone structure that sits at the heart of the Grand Mosque, Islam's most sacred place of worship. Some of its parts are connected to important episodes in Islamic tradition. Click on the labels to find out more.
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On the eastern corner of the Kaaba, to the left of the door, is the Black Stone, which according to Muslim tradition fell from heaven at the time of Adam and Eve. During Hajj pilgrims try to kiss the stone, emulating the kiss the Prophet Muhammad is believed to have placed on it. But the rites and rituals of Hajj begin outside Mecca.
4. One God
Today, Hajj is probably the most well-known mass pilgrimage in the world. The idea of a yearly visit to the Kaaba was born in 628 AD.
According to Islamic tradition, the Kaaba was built in honour of God by the Prophet Abraham and his son Ismael. But centuries later, the local populations who adored many gods used the cubic structure to store idols.
Fast-forward to the 7th Century, when Muslims believe God told the Prophet Muhammad that he should restore the Kaaba to the worship of one God only.
In the year 628 he set out on a journey with 1400 of his followers. This was the first pilgrimage in Islam.
Since then, the Kaaba has been through many transformations, but the experience of walking around it for devoted Muslims is just as meaningful as it would have been back then. It is a once in a lifetime event that has a powerful spiritual and emotional impact on pilgrims.
5. My pilgrimage to Mecca
Imam Abdullah Hasan describes the first time he saw the Kaaba.
6. What happens on other pilgrimages?
Often pilgrimages express a manifestation of faith, self-sacrifice and a coming together of the faithful. But what rites and rituals do other pilgrims perform?