Worshippers walk around the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on Tuesday, July 20.
Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Image

In pictures: Pandemic limits Hajj pilgrimage

Updated 5:42 PM ET, Thu July 22, 2021

Worshippers walk around the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on Tuesday, July 20.
Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Image

Thousands of Muslim worshippers are gathering for the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest city in Islam. For the second year in a row, the event has been transformed by the global pandemic.

Normally around 2 million Muslims descend on Mecca for the Hajj, but this year only about 60,000 are expected to attend. Saudi authorities have mandated that worshippers be fully vaccinated, and nonresident foreigners are barred from making the pilgrimage.

Performing the Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. Able-bodied Muslims are required to perform the five-day-long ritual at least once in their lives.