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(CNN) -- For many Muslims it's the journey of a lifetime: making the Hajj pilgrimage. Almost 3 million faithful, together, in the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. But this year, the Hajj could become an incubator for the H1N1 virus.
At a Muslim community center in Duluth, Georgia, American Muslims pray and prepare for the Hajj. Lateefa Khan is here with her husband, Zakerullah. She has mixed emotions. They are leaving their children behind but say they look forward to the worship.
"It is very exciting. An amazing experience," Khan says. "I am looking forward to worshipping, focusing all my time on worshipping."
Khan will take precautions to avoid H1N1, also known as swine flu, at the Hajj. They'll carry hand sanitizer and will be "frequently washing our hands, trying to stay as clean as possible."
The Khans, along with a number of people at the center who are going on the Hajj, also are getting H1N1 inoculations.
Dr. Asif Saberi gives them a short lecture on how to prepare and encourages everyone to have their shots at least seven days before traveling. He says the Saudi government is doing a lot to protect pilgrims, but "the magnitude of the problem is the magnitude of the numbers of people who attend the Hajj."
When it comes to using hand sanitizer and wearing masks, Saberi says he encounters confusion about religious dictates and flu prevention. According to Muslim beliefs, for example, men in a state of pilgrimage should not wear any stitched items or touch alcohol. So what about wearing face masks or using alcohol-based sanitizers?
"One of the basic principles on which shariah (Islamic law) is based is the protection of the health," he says. "So if protection of the health is of such paramount importance, then the ritualistic significance of not wearing stitched clothes on your body is subservient to the need to maintain good health. And therefore wearing a mask is important. Using the sanitizer, which prevents this disease from spreading to others, is important."