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Last Updated: Monday, 2 February, 2004, 12:48 GMT
Mecca pilgrimage: Send us your stories
Muslim pilgrims move around the Kaaba, inside of the Holy Grand Mosque of Mecca
Millions of Muslims are embarking on the traditional annual holy pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

The first of more than two million people have already arrived ahead of this year's Hajj pilgrimage, which peaks next month.

The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. Muslims are expected to make the trip at least once in their lifetime, if they can.

This year's Hajj has attracted added attention with the participation of one of the world's oldest men, Habib Miyan, who is reportedly 132 years old.

Will you be making the holy pilgrimage? How will you be travelling to Mecca? Do you have any interesting stories from previous pilgrimages? If you have any pictures you would like to submit, send them to yourpics@bbc.co.uk.

This Have Your Say is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received:

The Hajj experience should be emulated and implemented in all aspects of Muslim life
Abdul Kadir, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I first went to perform the Umra (minor Hajj) with my wife and kids in 2002. It was truly a wonderful experience. I see people from various backgrounds, colours and languages gathering to echo the name of the Lord. I see this as a true example of humanity with no discrimination against colour or nationalities. The Hajj experience should be emulated and implemented in all aspects of Muslim life to bring about the total change to their lives - to strengthen the Muslims' position in all area of knowledge. My great wishes go to all people performing the Hajj at this moment and also to all aspiring ones. God bless you all.
Abdul Kadir, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I have not been fortunate enough to have been called to perform the Hajj. I believe that all those who attend the Hajj are fortunate to have been called by God. May all who attend this year pray for world peace.
Tahir Shafiq, London, UK

Last year I performed Hajj and I am grateful to Allah for giving me the opportunity. It was my late father's wish to perform Hajj but it was not meant to be. I feel blessed that I was able to do this. We should be grateful to the Saudi government who allow millions of Muslims to perform Umrah and Hajj rather then criticise them.
Yasmin Pervaiz, UK

The Hajj is a very humbling experience, and I was very fortunate to have completed the pilgrimage in 2002. The experience is thoroughly spiritually uplifting, but you do have to ignore some of the host attitudes and treatment. The Saudi officials are very strict and have little respect for visitors to the Holy places. Be warned!
Adil, California, USA

I had a wonderful time with people of different countries all united and friendly with a mission to attain divine peace
Aman, age 16, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
I went for Hajj in 2002, when I was 14. I had a wonderful time with people of different countries all united and friendly with a mission to come close to Allah and attain divine peace. To Adil and others who criticised the Saudi government, you are wrong to criticise, because it's a wonder how they managed to provide food, water, excellent sanitation facilities, and police to help all the pilgrims. I feel no other government does as much as the Saudi government in this respect. As I am not a Saudi citizen I will have to leave the kingdom soon for higher studies and I dread the day when I will have to leave this wonderful place. May God bless Saudi Arabia and its people. And save them from the hatred of their enemies.
Aman, age 16, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

I am going on the Hajj next year inshallah. I will ask for Allah to bless all in attendance and for peace in Chechnya so that every Chechen gets the chance to go to Mecca.
Adam Malaev, Dublin, Ireland

May all of you who are performing Hajj this year remember all the Muslim Umah in your prayers and pray for world peace.
Souraya, UK

I am a Hindu. I have seen Muslims going to perform Hajj looking happy because they believe that they are very fortunate and God has provided them with an opportunity to atone for and start a new chapter in life.
Dharm, Karachi, Pakistan

All my family have been to Mecca, except me. They told me it is a nice experience, but I want to experience it myself.
Robejh Jasus Fernjadar, Anzoategui, Venezuela

I have been lucky enough to visit Mecca several times. Unfortunately I cannot go this year, but having read the aspirations of people going and the experiences of those who have been previously, I was moved to tears. My own experiences became alive again within me. No matter how many times you go, the longing for Mecca and Medina does not fade.
Yunus Karbhari, Lancashire, UK

Mecca and Medina should be declared international Islamic holy cities and must be managed by all Islamic countries. Funds should be contributed to develop more efficient infrastructures in order to provide comfort to those millions of Muslims who are performing the Hajj.
Kamarudin, Malaysia

I remember the immense variety of nationalities there - with some, all we could exchange was a few shared words of Arabic, and smiles that came from the heart for our shared faith experience. I remember the sobbing of my parents when the Kaaba first came into sight. But most of all, I remember that I felt so close to God, that the history that transpired there 1400 years ago belonged to me more than the countries of my birthplace or heritage, that I wanted so much to go right back as soon as we came home. I wish I could go this year - but you go when God invites you. All I have to do is wait.
Ayesha, Maryland, USA

I realise how lucky I am that Mecca is only a stone's throw away
Ms Lubna Karim, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
I grew up in Europe, but my parents moved to Saudi in 1985 while I stayed on to study and work. I was first upset that I was going to travel regularly to an unwelcoming country, being a woman and worked on ways to avoid it. Now, every day I thank Allah and realise how lucky I am that Mecca is only a stone's throw away. I finally moved permanently to Jeddah last year. Every time life gets too much, I run to God in Mecca, and realise how lucky I am that I don't need to worry about visa problems or airline tickets. Every time I visit Mecca and Medina I feel peace knowing I was blessed that I can visit and relax whenever I want, be it night or day. I can sit by the Prophet's Tomb and give him Salam.
Ms Lubna Karim, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Hajj is one of the most rewarding practices that a Muslim can perform to get closer to Allah. I performed my first Hajj a long time ago and I hope that I get the chance again to perform another Hajj. I used to live in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia before I moved to North America and know the exact feeling that Ms Lubna Karim has described. Visiting Mecca whenever you feel is the most purifying practice for the soul. God bless you all.
Anwar, Las Vegas, USA

I am going there next week, and already feel wonderful about it. I pray to Almighty that everybody gets the same opportunity as me.
M Khan, Texas, USA

I hope that Allah shall shower his bounties on us through our prayers. May our pilgrims perform their journeys in a peaceful atmosphere.
Ibrahim Abawa Keana, Jos, Nigeria

Performing the Hajj is one of the most important events in the life of a Muslim. It will bring him closer to God here on earth, and ultimately to be reunited with God after he dies.
Jaward Sesay, Philadelphia, USA

I have not preformed Hajj yet, but God willing, I hope to make the journey in the near future. Just even imagining visiting the House of Allah gives me a feeling of comfort and a sense of purity. I pray that my chance will come soon.
Asia Ahmed, Clearwater, USA

The Hajj, one of the main pillars of Islam, teaches us to come ahead and eliminate today's Satan, and fill the earth with peace and harmony.
Saira Khan, Rawalpindi, Pakistan

I did my minor Hajj (Umra) when I was only five years old. I still remember bits and pieces from our time in Jeddah and in Makkah. It was a wonderful experience. I still remember running up and down in Masjid al-Haram.
Aamir, Pakistan

When I actually got to smell the Ka'ba, its heavenly scent sent a shiver down spine
Tuba Abbasi, Lake Forest, US
When I had my first glance at the Ka'aba, I gasped. It was amazing, all the pictures I had seen were nothing compared to the actual site. And when I actually got to smell the Ka'aba, its heavenly scent sent a shiver down spine. It was by far the best experience I have ever had. I had never felt so near to Allah. I had never felt so taken away. At only 10 I had experienced the feeling that only so few people can get and at my age now, 12, I can put it into my perspective.
Tuba Abbasi, Lake Forest, United States

I am an Afghan and it is this Hajj pilgrimage which makes us feel the bond of unification; which is the most needed thing for the Muslims today.
Mohammed Ishaque Noory, Canada

I performed Hajj in 1993 at the age of 40. I travelled from London to Jeddah and back to London by Saudi Airlines. I felt real peace in mind when prayed in kabba and visited the holy historical sites. But I was sad to see how poorly it is managed. The authorities do not know how to manage 2 million people in a civilized way. People spend thousands of dollars on going there. With this money, western companies with educated and experienced Muslims could do this job efficiently and Muslims could have more peace in mind to pray.
Nasim Ahmed, Moscow, Russia

I am already at Haji. Never before have I seen so many people from every corner of the planet. So many foods, languages and cultures spread in a few square miles. Yet everyone eager for his/her forgiveness. My heart says go there again, my mind says no, let others get a chance.
My advice to the younger readers: Don't delay it or put it off till you are old.
Rais Ahmad, Audubn, NJ, US

I felt so much calm, peaceful and so close to Allah in my life
Aurengzeb, London
I felt so much calm, peaceful and so close to Allah in my life, while I was standing in the grounds of Arafat and Kaaba, remembering Allah. I never felt this before in my life before going for Hajj.
Aurengzeb, London

I am too young now (16) but going to Mecca for Haj has been one of my first wishes. I pray to achieve it.
Mujib Mashal, Massachusetts, USA

I went on Hajj in 2001. It was the most exciting memory I have ever had since I attained maturity 14 years ago. Hajj is both a religious and a social gathering where I learnt a lot of lessons such as tolerance, perseverance, forgiveness and sharing. The hajj rituals really made me understand the need for tolerance across the globe. I wished I could make it to hajj annually.
Salihu Bakari, Yola, Nigeria

To see Kabba in front of my eyes and to perform Hajj is one of the most significant desire of my life. I wish to be there along with my mother as soon as possible (God Willing). May Allah bless all of humane being peace and security
S KayaniI, London UK

No, I will not be making the pilgrimage. I think that the message of the Prophet has been perverted. I think that his message of peace has been made into a nightmare of falsehoods and hatred. All my Arab brothers have become sinners and hypocrites who when rich wallow in alcohol, gambling and prostitution. And when poor wallow in misery which culminates in the suicide bombing horrors. May Allah forgive us all for what we have done to his Prophets message!
Mustapha el Masroor, Buddina (Australia)

Specially in these years it is an Important job for every Muslim to go to Mecca, at these times all countries of the world becoming against the Muslims. So all the Muslims of the world needs to go there and show the world that we have one voice and we are together. Muslims! Lets go there, lets be United.
Hamid Husseini, Nottingham, UK

It's the greatest gathering of mankind anywhere
Zulfiqar Ali, Lancashire, UK
No I will not be making the pilgrimage to Mecca this year. I hope and pray that one day I shall. It's the duty of all sincere Muslims who are able to perform Hajj once in their lifetime. It's the greatest gathering of mankind anywhere.
Zulfiqar Ali, Lancashire, UK

My father died late last year and my mother made a desire to go for Hajj with either me or my brother. I prayed to Allah to take me if possible and now due to a bizarre irony at work I'm going on the 24th of January. I hope the BBC takes the initiative to air the Hajj pilgrimage again.
Hanif Rehman, Dewsbury, UK

I hope that people will find it in their hearts to forgive and forget the sorrows of the past. I hope too that people around the world will come to see that Islam is not violent but that violence comes from those who misunderstand its meaning. God bless you all.
Ameirah Abbas, Fujairah, UAE

In two years or so I will be married by the grace of God and at that time I will do Hajj with my wife. It's a great place. Every Muslim wants to go there. Some have financial problems. Some have family. I hope and pray that God may give the chance to every Muslim to fulfil the Hajj.
Burhan Sheikh, Windsor, Canada

I am hoping that the Saudi authorities don't make a mess of the Hajj, as, in my opinion, they have done in the past. We all know the Saudi government isn't too keen on large gatherings.
Sakhr, London, UK

I hope I can visit Mecca, as I am only aware of the pains of my people, but I don't understand how other Muslim nations live
Aref Jahid, Kabul, Afghanistan
I am an Afghan who has a great desire to make the Mecca pilgrimage. It is so appealing to me to sit with other people in front of the "House of Allah" to cry and cry because my heart is full of pain and blues due to the wars and insecurity in my country. I am only aware of the pains of my people, but I don't understand how other Muslim nations live. Therefore, I hope I can visit there once in my life to experience other nationalities.
Aref Jahid, Kabul, Afghanistan

I have never performed the Hajj yet, but I do have a strong desire to this year. May Allah help me to plan my trip.
Mohamed Bashir, Goldogob, Somalia

I really deeply hope to go there. My dad and mom went there two years ago and they had a wonderful time. May the lord accept all our deeds and bless all of us.
Abdullah, Muscat, Oman

I went in 1977 when I was just four years old. I remember while circling the Kaaba we chanted "labbaik...", a prayer used only at the time of Hajj. It echoes in my head to this day!
Assad Farooqi, Karachi, Pakistan

My parents are performing Hajj this year by the grace of Allah. I love the holy city of Mecca, and my wish is that I can perform Hajj as soon as possible.
Agha Muhammad Khan, Lahore, Pakistan

I will be making my first ever Hajj with my mother. I am looking forward to seeing Islam's holiest sites and asking forgiveness from Allah. I will also be praying that somehow people around the world find peaceful solutions to their national problems. And give all the strength to be brave enough to find peace.
Saeed, London UK

Going to Mecca for Hajj or Umrah is a cherished dream of every Muslim. Although I have not had the opportunity to visit Mecca for Hajj or Ummra but this desire to go there is simmering in my heart and I pray to Almighty Allah to accept my request and let me visit His Home as soon as possible. May Allah shower His blessings on all of us!
Waseem Dar, Guranwala, Pakistan

To meet so many thousands of people from different countries and of different creeds, all wearing the same clothes and reciting the same verses is frankly astounding
Asad Laanat Agha, Walsall, UK
I last went to do Hajj when I was 12 and am now going to perform Hajj again this year and I simply can't wait. I anticipate facing problems during travel but I am heading to Mecca with several companions and close friends, which is the most amazing thing about this journey. To meet so many thousands of people from different countries and of different creeds, all wearing the same clothes and reciting the same verses is frankly astounding.
Asad Laanat Agha, Walsall, UK

I am planning the holy pilgrimage this year. I will be performing Hajj with millions of Muslims from all over the world. I consider myself to be the luckiest man because Allah has given me this opportunity to visit his house and the house of our Prophet Muhammad... just thinking about this brings tears of joy. May Allah accept everyone's Hajj and showers us with his blessing. May Allah accept all of our prayers.
Asif Ansari, New York, USA

I preformed Umrah last year and it was truly amazing. Seeing people of all nationalities, races and cultures united under the banner of Islam is truly a moving experience.
Saroosh Ahmed, Chicago USA

This is something very exciting that anybody can properly explain - it's a feeling to clean your heart and thinking
Anwar Kabir, Belmont, MA, USA
Yes, I performed the main pilgrimage twice. It is really an excellent job of the Saudi government to manage such a huge gathering in one city having people from different region of the world with different language and culture. I felt myself very cool from inside that I was performing one of the most important duties of my religion. This is not only a gathering but also a meeting that strengthens the brotherhood among the people from different part of the same faith. This is something very exciting that anybody can properly explain - it's a feeling to clean your heart and thinking.
Anwar Kabir, Belmont, MA, USA

The Hajj is a wonderful time for Muslims to rest their lives follow back to square one (moment of berth). Meaning, once you are there sharing the same white dress carrying no surpluses items, you are no different than the rest. My pilgrimage was hard, harsh and also spiritual.
Saleh, Bahrain

I can not think of any event globally which parallels with this pilgrimage. Millions of people converging on the first house of God built originally by the prophet Abraham and visited by millions annually is a truly fantastic experience. I hope one day soon to complete one of the 5 basic pillars of Islam by completing the HAJJ (major pilgrimage).
Imran Ahmed, UK

My family and I went for our Umrah by road. The entire journey from Abudhabi to Mecca, the wonderful time I had there and the overwhelming feeling when I first saw the Holy Ka'ba in front of me are one of the most cherished moments in my life.
Muhammad Farhan, Lahore, Pakistan

It was a really amazing and moving experience
Mohammad, India
Peace and blessings be on all. I did my minor pilgrimage (Umra) to Mecca. It was a really amazing and moving experience with people from all colours and backgrounds bowing to the call of The Lord. That's the beauty of Islam, since fourteen hundred years ago. My parents by God's grace will be doing this event this year. May God accept all our deeds and shower peace on us.
Mohammad, India

No, I haven't gone to Mecca yet but Insha'allah (God willing) I will go soon. Praise be to Allah. This will be one of the greatest experiences in my lifetime.
Zain Ali, Frankfurt, Germany

May Allah provide the opportunity to every Muslim to perform Hajj.
Mian Majid, Newburgh, USA

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