Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims flock to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Once here they perform the rites of umra ahead of next week's annual Haj pilgrimage.
One of the five pillars of Islam, all physically and financially able Muslims are expected to participate in the Haj once in their lives.
For many, being in the birthplace of Islam is a life-changing experience.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) MAZILA, A MALAYSIAN PILGRIM, SAYING:
"At the first time I saw the Kaaba (the cube-shaped stone shrine at the centre of the Grand Mosque) I feel tears in my eyes, I couldn't believe it, I am here in the holy land and Allah (God) called me and my husband to perform the Hajj this year."
Others say the pilgrimage is particularly special after the Arab Spring.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) FARAJ MAHROUS, EGYPTIAN PILGRIM, SAYING:
"Actually this is my first Hajj after the revolution in Egypt, the arrangements are completely different comparing with the past, now there is more care about the Egyptian pilgrimage, the Hajj of Egyptians, there is more facility even in housing, even in transportation, people are being received at the airport, this has never happened before."
More than 3 million Muslims pilgrims are expected to make the journey this year.
Jessica Gray, Reuters