Two million Muslims begin Hajj in Makkah

Within the parameters of the constraints of sequence, time, and location, coupled with the numbers of the pilgrims to be hosted, Saudi Arabia makes every effort to serve the pilgrims each year, while learning from past experiences to improve for the next Hajj. Ibu Mariah Marghani Muhammad is joining more than 220,000 pilgrims from Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country. They were praying in Haram Sharif (Grand Mosque) reciting verses of Holy Quran and seeking Allah's mercy and His enormous bounties.

Mariah, the oldest among the 221,000 Indonesian would-be pilgrims this year, was welcomed with great fanfare upon her arrival in Saudi Arabia, Gulf News reports.

Saudi health officials overseeing Hajj later this week say they are prepared to handle any outbreak of disease or a stampede like the one that killed hundreds of worshippers two years ago.

Saudi Arabia later opened its border crossing with Qatar, allowing 1300 Qataris to perform the annual ritual.

In the lead-up to Hajj, the Ministry of Culture and Information (MOCI) of Saudi Arabia has unveiled two digital platforms to offer a view into Hajj.

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For the 1.8 billion Muslims around the world, the Hajj is a spiritual pinnacle.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz and the kingdom's Chairman of the Supreme Haj Committee Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef inspected security arrangements at holy sites and attended a military parade commemorating the start of haj season.

Wrapped in white cloth, worshippers embark on the five-day pilgrimage, considered one of the five pillars of Islam. Those calls were vehemently rejected by Saudi Arabia, which accused Iran of politicizing the hajj. Diplomatic ties between the two countries were severed for four years as a effect. The incident prompted Iran to ban its citizens from making the pilgrimage to Mecca past year.

With the exception of previous Iranian boycotts, impeded access to the Hajj is virtually unprecedented in modern Islamic history. Approximately 15,000 police have been deployed to ensure security during the pilgrimage.

This year's pilgrimage comes amid a diplomatic crisis between a Saudi-led bloc of Arab countries and Qatar, accused of supporting extremist groups and being too close to Riyadh's arch-rival Teheran.