This November, millions of Muslims from around the world will converge in Mecca in holy pilgrimage. The pilgrimage is the fifth pillar of Islam, and it is the duty of every able-bodied Muslim to perform it at least once in their lifetimes during Eid al-Adha. The pilgrimage involves a series of rituals that includes travelling from Mecca to Medina, circling the Kaaba seven times counter-clockwise, kissing the Black Stone, spending an afternoon in the plains of Arafat, and stoning the Devil.
Going on pilgrimage can be expensive, costing at least rm11,000 for Malaysian Muslims whose pilgrimage is partially subsidised by the pilgrimage funds board Tabung Haji. Some haj “packages” have been known to cost as much as rm120,000.
More than 2.5 million pilgrims performed the haj in 2009.