World Bulletin / News Desk
Since Wednesday evening, Muslim pilgrims have flocked to Saudi Arabia’s city of Medina after completing this year’s Hajj ritual -- the "fifth pillar" of Islam -- in the nearby city of Mecca.
According to the Saudi Press Agency, Medina’s Civil Organization of Hajj Guides -- devoted to catering to pilgrims’ needs -- expects to receive as many as 550,000 pilgrims over both Wednesday and Thursday.
Although it is not mandatory, pilgrims traditionally visit Medina to pray at Prophet Muhammad's Mosque, either before they begin the Hajj ritual or once they have completed it.
This year’s Hajj season will officially end on Thursday (the 13th day of the Islamic month of Dhul-Hijjah) after pilgrims end the ritual by performing a final farewell Tawaf (circumambulation) around the Kaaba in Mecca.
On Wednesday, Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al Rabiah announced that this year’s Hajj pilgrimage had concluded without any accidents or disturbances.
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"Because of Saudi rulers' oppressive behaviour towards God's guests, the world of Islam must fundamentally reconsider the management of the two holy places and the issue of hajj," Khamenei said in a statement published on his website, referring to Mecca and Medina.