Muslims from around the world recently gathered in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for the holiest day of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, per The Associated Press.

This trip is a key part of the Muslim faith, one that all healthy Muslims are expected to undertake at some point in their lives.

“Hajj is one of the largest religious gatherings on Earth,” Al Jazeera reported.

Here’s what non-Muslims can learn from the Muslim pilgrimage.

What is the Hajj pilgrimage about?

Hajj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, meaning it is a central tenet of the Islam, according to The Associated Press.

Muslims taking part in the journey join more than 1 million others in a ritual at Mount Arafat.

“The ritual at Mount Arafat, known as the hill of mercy, is considered the peak of the Hajj pilgrimage. It is often the most memorable for pilgrims, who stand together asking God for mercy, blessings, prosperity and good health. The hill is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) southeast of Mecca,” The Associated Press reported.

The Hajj involves intense sacrifice and preparation, per PBS. Many pilgrims must save money for years to afford a single trip, abandoning luxuries in order to focus on humility and faithfulness to God.

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Pilgrims often endure intense heat on their way to Mount Arafat, including this year.

The Hajj took place this year against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war. The conflict prevented many Muslims from participating in the journey, according to The Associated Press.

Saudi officials have advised that the Hajj should not be politicized. A Saudi cleric, Maher Bin Hamad al-Mu’wiqly, spoke about that when he delivered a sermon from Mount Arafat on Saturday, June 15.

“However, he urged pilgrims to pray for the Palestinians who have been ‘harmed and hurt by their enemy’ that killed them, and ‘deprived them of what they need from food, medicine and clothing.’ He didn’t mention Israel in his sermon,” The Associated Press reported.

What everyone can learn from Hajj

  • Gratitude and humility: The Hajj requires sacrifice. During their journey, pilgrims separate themselves from many worldly comforts and focus on what God has provided for them in their journey, per Arab News.
  • Brotherhood: Muslims from diverse backgrounds take part in the Hajj side-by-side. Rich, poor, Palestinian, Saudi, Jordanian, old, young, etc., all participate in the same rituals and pray side-by-side, per Salon. From this example, we can learn to embrace our common humanity.
  • Patience: The journey to Mount Arafat is longer for some pilgrims than others. Travelers must navigate crowded and challenging conditions, after waiting years for the time and money to go. Nevertheless, they look forward to the chance they have to travel to the sacred site. We can learn to exercise similar patience as we navigate our own struggles.
  • Devotion: At Mount Arafat, Muslims worship God together, raising their arms to the sky and praying, per The Associated Press. This period of intense devotion and reflection encourages individuals to think about their own relationship with God. Believers of other faiths may be inspired to consider how they show their devotion to God.
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