2M Muslims gather near Mecca for peak of hajj pilgrimage

Around 2 million people — their palms facing the sky in supplication — are gathering near Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the peak day of the annual hajj pilgrimage.

From dawn until dusk on Thursday, the massive crowd of people will be gathered here in Mount Arafat to spend the day in supplication and contemplation. It is here, on this mount surrounded by desert, where the Prophet Muhammad delivered his final sermon more than 1,400 years ago.

During the hajj, male pilgrims are required to wear seamless, white terrycloth garments for the entirety of the hajj. Women wear loose clothing, cover their hair and forgo makeup and nail polish to achieve a state of humility and spiritual purity.

The hajj is required of all Muslims once in a lifetime.