Performing Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam.
Islam requires every Muslim who is physically and financially able to make the journey to the holy city of Mecca at least once in his or her life.
Hajj occurs two months and 10 days after Ramadan ends, during the Islamic month of Dhul-Hijjah.
The height of Hajj corresponds with the major Islamic holy day Eid al-Adha, which commemorates Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his son on Divine orders.
The pilgrimage, conducted over five days, includes numerous detailed rituals including wearing a special garment that symbolizes human equality and unity before God, a circular, counter-clockwise procession around the Kaaba, and the symbolic stoning of evil.
Kaaba (Ka'bah), a cube-shaped structure draped in black silk, is the most sacred shrine of Islam and the chief goal of the pilgrimage.
There is a black stone enclosed in a silver ring in the eastern corner of the Kaaba. Muslims believe that the stone was given to Abraham by the angel Gabriel. Participants touch or kiss the stone to end the ceremony around the Kaaba.
People who have completed the pilgrimage may add the phrase al-Hajj or hajji (pilgrim) to their names.