Hajj or pilgrimage to Makkah, the “Mother City Of Islam”, is the fifth pillar of Islam. It takes place in the month of “Dhu al-Hijjah” which means “month of pilgrimage“, it is the twelfth month of the lunar calendar. Hajj is performed from the 8th to the 13th of Dhu al-Hijjah.
Hajj is performed at the Kaaba which is located in the center of the great mosque Makkah
“Masjid al-Haram” and Muslims orient towards Kaaba in prayer and considers the Kaaba as the holiest place on earth and Allah Almighty explained the merits of the Kaaba in these words
“Verily, the first House (of worship) established for mankind was that in Mecca – blessed and a guidance for the worlds.”
(Surah al Imran – 96)
What Does Hajj (Pilgrimage) Mean?
Hajj means “to set out with a specific goal” technically it is a visit to the Kaaba, the house of Allah Almighty in Makkah. Hajj removes our small and big sins and Muslims go there to seek forgiveness from Allah.
“Whoever came to that House (Ka’ba) (intending to perform the pilgrimage) and neither spoke indecently nor acted sacrilegiously would return (free from sin) as on the (first day) his mother gave birth to him.”
(Sahih Muslim 1350)
Who Can Perform Hajj
Hajj is one of the important pillars of Islam and must be performed by every Muslim once in a lifetime, but some conditions must be fulfilled for performing Hajj.
A person must be a Muslim
A person should reach puberty so that he is aware of what he is doing.
A person who is not mentally stable is not eligible to perform Hajj as Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said.
“The pen is lifted from three persons: from a sleeping person until he wakes up, from a child until he grows up, and from a mentally ill person until he regains his sanity.”
(Sunan al-Tirmidhī 1423)
Women are only allowed to go to Hajj with their Mahram, as the Prophet Muhammad said that women are not allowed to travel for more than twenty-four hours without their Mahram.
A person who cannot afford the cost of Hajj and cannot bear the hardships of the journey is not eligible for Hajj
“The pilgrimage to the House is an obligation from Allah for the one among the people who can do it.”
(Surah al Imran 97)
A person who is a slave is not eligible to perform Hajj
The Rites Of The Pilgrimage (Hajj)
Hajj is performed in the form of a series of acts of ritual, important sacred duties performed during Hajj are mentioned below.
Ihram is the clothing of the pilgrim and must be worn before reaching the Miqat. The meaning of Ihram means ” consecration“.
● Men’s Ihram
Men wear two simple pieces, one wrapped around the waist and reaching the ankle and the other worn over the left shoulder.
● Women’s Ihram
Women wear loose, floor-length, simple dresses and cover their heads.
A pilgrim must wear an Ihram before reaching the place outside Makkah called Miqat. Ihram consists of two white cloths that are not sewn. In tradition, there are five places for putting on Ihram as Transmitted by ibn Abbas
“Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) had set Dhul Hulaifa as Miqat for the people of Medina; Al-Juhfa for the people of Sham; and Qarn Ul-Manazil for the people of Najd; and Yalamlam for the people of Yemen. So these (above) are the Mawaqit for all those who live in these places, and for those who come through these places to perform Hajj and ‘Umrah, and whoever lives within these places should accept Ihram from his residence, and similarly, the people of Mecca can accept Ihram from Makkah.”
Sahih al-Bukhari 1526
As soon as the pilgrims pass the Miqat, they perform two Rakah prayers and enter the state of Ihram, henceforth they do nothing dishonest and behave like the true believers of Allah Almighty.
Talbiyah is the most important ritual recitation of Hajj.
When Is The Talbiyah Recited?
The pilgrim should start reciting the Talbiyah from the time of taking the consecration and wearing the Ihram until the day of Arafat.
To Thy service, Allah, to Thy service. To Thy service, Thou hast no partner. Verily, all praise, all favor, and all sovereignty are Yours. Thou hast no partner.
On the 8th of Dhu al-Hijjah, the first day of Hajj, pilgrims must circumambulate Kabba seven times in an anti-clockwise direction.
When they are close to the Kabba, they should touch or kiss it, or if they are not close enough, they can simply raise their hand. Once they are at the end of the circle, they should go to the station of Ibrahim to pray for two Rakah.
As soon as the Tawaf is over, the pilgrim begins Sai. Sai is walking seven times between the two small hills of Safa and Marwa.
This act is performed in remembrance of prophet Ismail’s (AS) mother’s search for water when she was left alone in Makkah by prophet Ibrahim (AS).
The next morning, the 8th of Dhu al-Hijjah, the pilgrims move towards the valley of Mina, 10 km away, where they spend the night at Prayer.
On the ninth day, the pilgrims leave Mina for Arafat. This is the foremost important ritual of the Hajj. They line up before Allah in the vicinity of Jabil-e-Rahmat and spend time praying and reciting the Quran.
When the sun sets, pilgrims leave Arafat for Muzdalifah, where stones are collected for stoning the next day.
Many pilgrims spend the night in Muzdalifah before returning to Mina.
The ritual of Rammy-al-Jamarat, in which stones are thrown at the pillar symbolizing the trial faced by prophet Ibrahim (AS) and his family.
After the stoning of Satan, animals are slaughtered. This three-day festival is performed in remembrance of the willingness of prophet Ibrahim (AS) to sacrifice the life of his son at the command of Allah, but at the last moment, Allah took a sheep as a substitute.
Male pilgrims shave their heads or shorten the length or females cut a lock of their hair after this festival.
The pilgrims go to Masjid al-Haram Makkah, again for a final Tawaf, called “Tawaf-e- Ziarah”
or “Tawaf Al-Ifadah” which is an important and obligatory part of the pilgrimage. The night of the 10th is spent in Mina.
Stoning Of The Three Pillars
The pilgrim stays in mina on the 11th and 12th of the month and throws seven stones on each of the three Jamarat, starts with the small pillar which is near to Arafat, then the middle one, and at the end the large one.
Circumambulation Of The Farewell
Before leaving Makkah, the pilgrim performs the circumambulation of the Kabba as a farewell. This act is not obligatory but is recommended by most people.
Journey To Madinah
Most pilgrims visit Madinah and the Prophet’s mosque, it is not an obligatory part of Hajj but most pilgrims love to visit Madinah.
Hajj is an obligatory form of worship. It encloses in it all the lessons of Salat, Zakat, and fasting, during Hajj Muslims observe many restrictions and learn discipline and how to control their desires.