Today marks the third and most important day of the Hajj, an annual Islamic pilgrimage that has drawn as many as three million Muslims to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The four-day trip is arduous, packed with rituals and prayers. Most pilgrims begin planning for the trip up to six months in advance and set aside around $2,000 to make the journey. Some are encouraged to get in good physical shape, build their immune system, prepare a will, and go through counseling so they are mentally prepared.
The BBC's Shaimaa Khalil gives us a visual report from her place on the ground at the event. We also talk about the intensive preparations with Shahidah Sharif, who has completed the Hajj seven times. She and her husband run Professional Hajj & Umrah Guides.