President Abdullah Gül, who is currently in Saudi Arabia to perform the hajj (pilgrimage), has exchanged Eid al-Adha greetings with Turkish pilgrims in Mecca.
Gül met with the Turkish pilgrims at Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate's Hajj Office on Wednesday, expressing his wishes that God accept the hajj of the Turkish believers.
The president left İstanbul bound for Mecca on Sunday morning, making him the first Turkish president to fulfill his duty as a Muslim to perform the hajj while in office.
Gül went to Mecca upon an invitation from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Each year, several Muslim heads of state go to the Holy Land to perform the hajj as the guests of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, and every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so is expected to go Mecca at least once in her/his lifetime during the designated time of the pilgrimage based on the Islamic lunar calendar.
This year, Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) began on Oct. 15, and Muslims became pilgrims a day before Eid al-Adha starts. President Gül also performed the hajj several times during his employment as an economist at the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah.