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Saudi Arabia prepares for the annual Muslim hajj pilgrimage

Saudi Arabia is preparing to host the annual hajj pilgrimage beginning Sunday, as over 2 million Muslim faithful are ready to take part in the ultraconservative kingdom.

The pilgrimage represents one of the five pillars of Islam and is required of all able-bodied Muslims once in their life. In recent weeks, the faithful have arrived in Mecca from across the world, all chanting "Labayk Allahuma Labayk," or "Here I am, God, answering your call. Here I am."

The hajj offers pilgrims an opportunity to feel closer to God amid the Muslim world's many challenges, including the threat of extremists in the Mideast after the Islamic State group was beaten back...

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