Muslims around the world are celebrating the Eid al-Adha holiday today as some 2 million Muslim pilgrims carry out the final rites of the annual Haj in Saudi Arabia.
Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims made their way toward a massive multi-story complex in Mina after dawn today to cast pebbles at three large columns. It is here where Muslims believe the devil tried to talk the Prophet Ibrahim out of submitting to God's will.
Muslims believe Ibrahim's faith was tested when God commanded him to sacrifice his only son Ismail. Ibrahim was prepared to submit to the command, but then God stayed his hand, sparing his son.
In the Christian and Jewish version of the story, Abraham is ordered to kill his other son, Isaac.
For the final three days of Haj, pilgrims sleep in a large tent valley called Mina and for three days take part in a symbolic stoning of the devil. Mina is also where more than 2,400 people have killed two years ago in a stampede and a collision of two crowds that crushed people under the force.
The Saudi government has since widened some roads in Mina to try and improve the safety of the Haj. More than 100,000 security forces are managing the Haj this year, assisting pilgrims and directing the massive crowds that move from one location to another in the areas around Mecca for five days during the Haj.
The government also offers all pilgrims free health care and access to hospitals during the Haj.
The Kaaba represents the metaphorical house of God and the oneness of God in Islam. Observant Muslims around the world face toward the Kaaba during the five daily prayers.
The five-day-long Haj is a series of rituals meant to cleanse the soul of sins and instill a sense of equality and brotherhood among Muslims.
The pilgrimage is required of all Muslims with the means to perform once in a lifetime.
During the last three days of Haj, male pilgrims shave their heard terry clothe the terrycloth white garments worn during the Haj. Women cut off a small lock of hair in a sign of spiritual rebirth and renewal.