Hajj is an Islamic pilgrimage that takes the faithful along a path traversed by the Prophet Muhammad some 1,400 years ago. (image courtesy: AFP)

More than 2 million pilgrims have gathered in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia to perform initial rites of the Hajj.

It is an Islamic pilgrimage that takes the faithful along a path traversed by the Prophet Muhammad some 1,400 years ago.

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Concise News gathered that the pilgrims, including 1.8 million from outside the monarchy, were transported by bus to the desert valley of Mina, around seven kilometers from the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca.

The pilgrims will stay overnight in Mina, a large tent city that can accommodate 2.6 million pilgrims, according to the official Saudi news agency SPA.

Early Saturday, the pilgrims will leave for Mount Arafat, around 20 kilometers East of Mecca, where the Hajj reaches its peak.

The granite hill is the place where the Prophet Mohammed delivered his last sermon around 14 centuries ago.

There, the pilgrims ritually chant in supplication to God to forgive their sins.

This year’s Hajj, which ends on Tuesday, is being held amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran, a regional rival of Saudi Arabia.

Over the past few days, Saudi officials have repeatedly warned pilgrims against engaging in politics and called on them to focus on worship.

The Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is a mandatory duty for all Muslims once in a lifetime if they possess enough financial resources and are physically capable of undertaking the journey.