Here’s a look at Hajj, an annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
On average, more than two million Muslims a year perform the pilgrimage, but since 2020, attendance has been restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
June 26, 2023 - The Hajj pilgrimage is expected to start (dates may vary slightly for different countries depending on the sighting of the New Moon).
July 7-12, 2022 - The Hajj pilgrimage takes place. The Saudi government permits one million pilgrims from around the world to attend, up from only 60,000 (Saudi residents only) in 2021.
Hajj, Hadj or Hadjdj - the spelling HAJJ is the preferred CNN style.
READ: A Journey through Hajj, Islam’s special pilgrimage
Performing Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam.
Islam requires every Muslim who is physically and financially able to make the journey to the holy city of Mecca at least once in his or her life.
Hajj takes place two months and 10 days after Ramadan ends, during the Islamic month of Dhul-Hijjah.
The height of Hajj corresponds with the major Islamic holy day Eid al-Adha, which commemorates Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice his son on Divine orders.
The pilgrimage, conducted over five days, includes numerous detailed rituals including wearing a special garment that symbolizes human equality and unity before God, a circular, counter-clockwise procession around the Kaaba, and the symbolic stoning of evil.
Kaaba (Ka’bah), a cube-shaped structure draped in black silk, is the most sacred shrine of Islam and the chief goal of the pilgrimage.
There is a black stone enclosed in a silver ring in the eastern corner of the Kaaba. Muslims believe that the stone was given to Abraham by the angel Gabriel. Participants touch or kiss the stone to end the ceremony around the Kaaba.
People who have completed the pilgrimage may add the phrase al-Hajj or hajji (pilgrim) to their names.
1987 - More than 400 people, mainly Iranian Shiite pilgrims, are killed in clashes with Saudi security forces during anti-Western protests in Mecca.
1990 - 1,426 pilgrims are trampled to death.
1994 - A stampede near Jamarat Bridge kills 270 pilgrims.
April 1997 - A fire in Mina, Saudi Arabia, tears through a sprawling, overcrowded tent city, trapping and killing more than 340 pilgrims and injuring 1,500.
1998 - One hundred eighty people die in a stampede near Mecca at the end of Hajj.
February 1, 2004 - A stampede kills 251 Muslim pilgrims and injures 244 more at a stone-throwing ritual which has been the source of deadly trampling in the past.
January 5, 2006 - A small hotel in Mecca collapses, killing at least 76 people. The hotel, Luluat Alkheir, is occupied by Asian pilgrims when it collapses.
January 12, 2006 - A stampede kills at least 363 people. The stampede, like others in the past, happens during the stone-throwing ritual in which the pilgrims stone a symbolic devil.
September 11, 2015 - Days before the start of the Hajj, 107 people are killed when a powerful storm topples a construction crane, sending it crashing through the roof of the Grand Mosque in Mecca. At least 238 others are injured, according to the nation’s civil defense authorities. The Grand Mosque is the largest in the world and surrounds the Kaaba.
September 24, 2015 - During the annual Hajj pilgrimage, a stampede kills more than 700 people and injures nearly 900 others, according to state media. The incident occurs during the ritual known as “stoning the devil” in the tent city of Mina.
May 30, 2016 - Iran bars its pilgrims from traveling to Mecca to take part in the Hajj pilgrimage after accusing Saudi Arabia of failing to guarantee the safety of its citizens.
June 22, 2020 - A statement from Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah states that as Covid-19 cases continue to grow globally, and because of the risks of coronavirus spreading in crowded spaces and from other countries, the Hajj will “take place this year with a limited number of pilgrims from all nationalities residing in Saudi Arabia only, who are willing to perform Hajj.”
July 28, 2020-August 1, 2020 - Only about 1,000 pilgrims perform the Hajj.