One of the world ' s largest annual gatherings, the Hajj or pilgrimage, is about to get underway. Up to 4,000 Australian Muslims are expected to join more than 2 million Muslims in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in anticipation of the start of Hajj. This year has seen a considerable increase in young Australian pilgrims making the spiritual trip. Elias Attia is a first - time pilgrim. The 26 - year - old lawyer and community development worker from south - west Sydney is feeling anxious about the pilgrimage. After making the decision to attend this year on impulse, Mr Attia says this will be the biggest spiritual journey of his life. " The Hajj is like a once - in - a - lifetime journey. I don ' t know whether I ' ll do this ever again, " he said. " So I ' ve made sure that I ' ve made amends with everyone who I might have wronged in any slight way. " Mr Attia says it is an opportunity to refocus his priorities. " The Hajj for me is an affirmation where you put God at the centre of your life. "Young Muslims hope to strengthen their faithShaykh Yahya Safi from the Australian National Imams Council said more young people are turning to their religion. " Nowadays, we can see the youth who go to the Hajj. Before we only(used to) see the old people attend Hajj, " Shaykh Safi said. He says the practice of Hajj dates back to the time of prophets Abraham and Mohammed. " The Hajj rituals teach patience, strengthen one ' s faith in order to change oneself and to remember the sacrifice of prophets Abraham and Mohammed, " he said. Married couple Nazih Naboulsi and Ayat El Saedy are also attending Hajj for the first time. " We don ' t expect it to be easy, " Mrs El Saedy, 24, said. " It ' s going to be a physical and mental struggle, but in the end it ' s going to be worth it. " The couple, who live in Prospect in western Sydney, have been busy with preparations, including asking family and friends for forgiveness. " Before you leave, you ' re meant to ask everyone for forgiveness - anyone that you ' ve wronged in any way, " Mrs El Saedy said. " Hopefully when we come back not only will we have a clean slate with our friends and family but with God as well. " Mrs El Saedy says the pilgrimage will also help their relationship grow spiritually. " I know for sure this will bring us closer together because it ' s such a big journey we ' re taking together. "' I believe I ' ll come back a different person ' Singer and psychologist Hameed Attai is also a first-time pilgrim. "I've been longing to go for a long time," he said. The 28-year-old Afghan-Australian, who lives in Mt Colah in Sydney's north, says the Hajj is a spiritual journey. "This experience will mean a spiritual rejuvenation, revitalisation and an upliftment," he said. "It's about getting back in touch with yourself, with your God and with the people around you." Mr Attai says he has put off the trip for five years for family reasons. "They always say delay it, delay it, delay it. "I really think I should be going now. They're half excited and half not," he joked. He is looking forward to the experience. "I definitely hope and believe that I'll come back a different person." Hajj is officially expected to fall between October 13 and 18.