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The Journeys These Muslim Pilgrims Made To Get To Mecca For Hajj Will Inspire You

One man decided to cycle all the way from China to Saudi Arabia.

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Nearly 2 million Muslims from around the world are gathering this weekend in Mecca, Islam's holiest city, for the annual pilgrimage.

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, and Muslims believe it fosters universal relationships and symbolizes how everyone is equal in the eyes of Allah. It is a journey every sane adult Muslim from every race, color, and social status must undertake at least once in their lives, as long as they are physically able and can afford it.

These are some of the people taking the journey to Saudi Arabia this year.

1. This pilgrim who cycled from China.

Man rides bike all the way from China's Xinjiang to Makkah to perform Haj https://t.co/6f50YbCHci

A Chinese man who goes by the name Mohamed rode his bicycle all the way into Saudi Arabia to perform hajj and was welcomed by a local cycling club in Taif, a city in the Mecca province, when he arrived, according to local news reports. Mohamed reportedly cycled over 5,000 miles from his home in Xinjiang, northwest China, which took him nearly four months.

2. And this pilgrim who cycled from Russia.

A Russian pilgrim riding his bicycle from Medina to Makkah. #Hajj #SaudiArabia

Bulat Nassib Abdulla, 24, left Russia on the first day of Ramadan on June 6, cycling his way to reach Saudi Arabia for the annual pilgrimage, reported local Saudi news websites. He was welcomed by Saudi hajj officials in Medina, a city in the west of Saudi Arabia.

3. This electrician who set off on foot from Bangalore.

Deccan Chronicle / Screengrab / Via deccanchronicle.com

Mohamed Rahmathullah Khan, 56, of Bangalore, India, took the mission to walk all the way to Mecca, in what would be his first ever hajj. Local media station Ind Today, which interviewed him in February, said he planned to travel via Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq before he reaching Saudi Arabia. Khan, an electrician, said he hoped to walk 30 to 40 miles each day from 6:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. It is not clear whether he's made it to Mecca yet.

4. These Iraqi pilgrims who traveled through the desert.

Iraqi armed helicopters escorting buses full of Hajj pilgrims through the desert to the #Iraq-#Saudi border.

Around 30,000 pilgrims from Iraq are able to make the pilgrimage each year according to the Saudi quota system, which allocates the number of pilgrims from Muslim-majority countries. A number of footage online showed buses carrying pilgrims through the desert in the Iraqi–Saudi border, escorted by armed helicopters.

5. This Kenyan cancer patient who was granted his final wish.

Tuko news website/ Screengrab / Via tuko.co.ke

Abdiaziz Aden, 23, from Kenya, who is suffering from bone cancer, asked his well-wishers to grant him one last wish. In an emotional video posted online, he said he dreamed of taking the pilgrimage after doctors in India, where he was receiving treatment, said he only had three more months to live. Aden set off earlier this week after Kenyans on social media managed to raise the funds for the pilgrimage, and he was granted a visa, according to a Kenyan news site.

6. This deaf and mute couple from Malaysia who had been saving money for 10 years

Ismail Modom and Roshi Ismail - an elderly, deaf/mute couple from #Malaysia performing #Hajj #Hajj2016

Ismail Mod Dom and Rosni Ismail, who have been married for 40 years after meeting at a factory where they both worked, had been saving money since 2006 to make the pilgrimage of their lifetime. During a press conference at a hotel in Mecca, the couple held up a message to their sons that read, "We are healthy. Don’t worry about us," according to the New Straits Times.

7. Syrians from refugee camps around the region.

Aziz Taher / Reuters

After a hajj committee for Syrians was set up under an agreement between the Syrian Coalition and Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj in 2014, around 12,000 Syrian refugees from Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey, and Jordan have travelled to Mecca, according to Mohammed Yahya Maktabi, the head of the office of the affairs of the Syrian pilgrims. The number of Syrians who could make the pilgrimage was very low during the beginning of the Syrian civil war — in 2012, Saudi Arabia had issued a ban on hajj visas for Syrian nationals, according to Al Jazeera. In this photo, prospective pilgrims wait at the international airport in Beirut to embark on their journey.

8. Citizens from Sierra Leone who are traveling for the first time since the Ebola outbreak in 2014.

African News / Screengrab / Via africanews.com

Two years after the Ebola outbreak, the first group of Muslim pilgrims from Sierra Leone flew to Mecca to participate in hajj this month. About 800 people from Sierra Leone are making the journey, according to Anadolu Agency.

9. Indonesians who have had to wait nearly 40 years for their turn.

Fayez Nureldine / AFP / Getty Images

With 3.2 million Indonesians on the waiting list for hajj, Indonesians who wish to go on pilgrimage have to wait for 37 years for their chance to make the pilgrimage, according to Joko Asmoro, chairman of the Indonesian Muslim Association for Hajj and Umrah Travels. Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, receives the biggest quota for pilgrims who can travel to Mecca and Medina for hajj. Nearly 200,000 pilgrims make the journey every year.

10. Palestinians who are otherwise unable to leave the Gaza Strip.

Said Khatib / AFP / Getty Images

Palestinian pilgrims were able to cross the Rafah border between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip ahead of hajj this month. According to Associated Press, Egypt opened the crossing for three days to allow around 2,000 pilgrims from Gaza to pass through. The pilgrims were able to get visas to use the Cairo airport to travel to Mecca. Egypt has upheld an Israeli military blockade on the Gaza Strip for the majority of the past three years, while it has been fully blockaded by Israel since 2007.

Aisha Gani is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Aisha Gani at Aisha.Gani@BuzzFeed.com.

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