The Hajj and Eid al-Adha. Photos from around the world.

Thanks to Michelle who  saw these photos as a symbol of how we are connected to some by our faith, and to all by our humanity. It helps her  explain not our differences, but our fundamental sameness to Layla (her young daughter).

Yesterday marked the end of the Muslim festival Eid al-Adha, or “Feast of Sacrifice” – which also marks the end of the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. One of the pillars of Islamic faith, the Hajj must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by any Muslim who has the ability to do so. This year, nearly 3 million Muslims made the Hajj, without major incident, and are now returning to their homes across the world. Muslims who stayed closer to home celebrated Eid al-Adha, commemorating the the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son to God. Traditional practices include ritual prayers, the sacrifice of animals (usually sheep), distribution of the meat amongst family, friends and the poor, and visiting with relatives. (41 photos total)

Muslim pilgrims perform the “Tawaf” ritual around the Kaaba at Mecca’s Grand Mosque before leaving the holy Saudi city at the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage on December 10, 2008. The official Saudi News Agency (SPA) reported that the most recent statistics put the total number of pilgrims this year at more than 2.4 million, almost 1.73 million from abroad and 679,000 from within the kingdom, mostly foreign residents. (KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)  See all photos here
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