This is a busy time for a blogger with an eye to world religions, between Jewish holidays, the Pope visiting the US, and it's also the time of the Hajj in Islam. The Hajj is an annual pilgrimage of faithful Muslims to Mecca, the birthplace of Muhammad and the location where he received the Quran, and this year it runs from September 22 to 27. This is one of the five pillars of Islam, and all Muslims are required to make this journey during their lives if they are able. Over 2,000,000 people are there this year (tragically, the press of so many people led to the death of 700 yesterday). A couple of years ago Ibraheem, a ten year old, built a LEGO diorama illustrating different locations and rituals associated with the Hajj. Some of these include:
The Tawaf, a ritual in which pilgrims walk seven times around the Kaaba, a cubic building covered in a black curtain. This structure is believed to have been built by Abraham and Ishmael and includes a black stone brought down from heaven by an angel. In the time of Muhammad this structure was full of idols, but when Muhammad conquered Mecca he removed the idols. Today the Kabaa is surrounded by the huge Al-Masjid al-Haram Mosque, built to accomodate the huge crowds of pilgrims at Hajj time.
Spending the afternoon in prayer, contemplation and repentance on the plain of Arafat. Here one can listen to sermons preached near the foot of the Mount of Mercy, where Muhammad is said to have given his last sermon.
Spending the night under the stars in the field of Muzdalifah.
Going back and forth between Mount Safa and Mount Marwah, where Hagar is said to have run when Abraham left her and Ishmael in the wilderness.
Throwing pebbles at three Jamarats (formerly pillars, now walls) in a ceremony called the Stoning of the Devil.
In addition to these, Ibraheem also built the tent city a Mina, where 100,000 tents house the visitors to Mecca.