Muslim pilgrims walk to the holy city of Karbala ahead of the Shiite ritual of Arbaeen, in Najaf, Iraq, on Nov. 30, 2015. Arbaeen marks the end of a 40-day mourning period for the killing of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein 13 centuries ago. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Alaa Al-Marjani 
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-ARBAEEN-PILGRIMAGE, originally transmitted on Dec. 3, 2015.

PHOTOS: The Shiite pilgrimage Arbaeen

(RNS) Drawing an estimated 17 million pilgrims, the Shiite ritual known as Arbaeen dwarfs even the hajj. Arbaeen marks the end of the 40-day mourning period after the anniversary of the seventh-century slaying of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, which engendered the Sunni-Shiite schism.

Religion News Service 
photo courtesy of Saudi Information Office, Washington.

Pork-free vaccine wins cheers from Hajj pilgrims

(RNS) The nearly 3 million Muslims who will make next week’s annual hajj pilgrimage to the sacred Saudi Arabian city of Mecca are required to be vaccinated against meningitis. Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis claims to have developed, in 2010, the first anti-meningitis vaccine without pork, which Muslims are forbidden to consume under Islamic law. Many religious authorities have already certified the Menveo vaccine as “halal,” or permitted under Islamic law. Not all Muslims, however, believe the vaccine is truly halal. Anti-meningitis vaccine was developed in the 1930s, and pork derivatives were and remain an important part of the compound today.