What is Hajj (Pilgrimage)? – Best 2024 Guide

What is Hajj

Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, is a fundamental worship in Islam and the fifth pillar of the faith. Muslims are obligated to perform Hajj alongside other religious duties. The Hajj period lasts from the 8th to the 13th day of Dhu al Hijjah, with rituals spanning six days.

Only those who are mentally sound, physically capable, financially able, and of adult age are required to participate. Hajj involves specific steps, including donning the Ihram garment, performing Saee between Safa and Marwa, prayers at Mina, standing on Arafat Mount, staying at Muzdalifah, stoning the devil, offering sacrifices, shaving or shortening hair, and performing Tawaf Al Ifadah and Tawaf Al Wida.

Ihram imposes various prohibitions, such as shaving, clipping nails, wearing perfumes, getting married, hunting, engaging in sexual activity, and covering the head or face.

But what is Hajj? And why is it important in Islam? Check out the answers in the blog.

What is Hajj? 

Hajj or pilgrimage is a worship that Muslims perform annually in Mekka, especially at the holy mosque and other sacred sites. It’s the fifth pillar of Islam that Muslims should do besides the other obligatory cults. 

According to prophet Muhammed’s hadith, he said:

“Islam has been built on five [pillars]: testifying that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establishing the salah (prayer), paying the zakat (obligatory charity), making the hajj (pilgrimage) to the House, and fasting in Ramadhan.” (Bukhari and Muslim).

When is Hajj?

Hajj occurs during a specific timeframe each year. It takes place from the 8th to the 13th day of the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah. This period spans six days and is marked by various rituals and acts of worship performed by Muslims from around the world.

The precise dates of Hajj vary each year according to the Islamic lunar calendar. During these days, millions of Muslims gather in Mecca to fulfill their religious obligation and participate in the rites of Hajj. The pilgrimage culminates in the celebration of Eid al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah.

Who must participate in Hajj?

Whoever performs Hajj rituals should be:

  • Muslim believes in monotheism.
  • Sane.
  • Adult.
  • Healthy physically to be able to perform All the rituals.
  • Free not a slave.
  • Able to do Hajj materially.

Those eligible to participate in Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, must meet several criteria. Firstly, they must be Muslims who believe in monotheism, adhering to the Islamic faith. Secondly, they must be of sound mind, possessing mental faculties necessary to understand and fulfill the pilgrimage rites.

Thirdly, individuals must be adults, having reached the age of maturity as defined by Islamic law. Additionally, participants should be in good physical health to undertake the rigorous activities involved in Hajj.

Moreover, they must be free individuals, not enslaved, as the pilgrimage requires autonomy and personal agency. Lastly, pilgrims should have the means to afford the journey both financially and materially, ensuring they can cover the costs of travel, accommodation, and other expenses associated with the pilgrimage.

Why is Hajj Important?

Hajj’s importance lies in struggling against self (jihad), thanking Allah for his blessings, forgiving sins, and honoring the pilgrimage’s rituals.

1. Thanking Allah 

Performing Hajj represents thanking Allah and appreciating his blessings which are well-being and money as the Muslim through these blessings does all Hajj rituals.

2. Loyal worship for Allah

When a Muslim wears Ihram clothing and leaves all luxuries that means they aspire to do this worship for Allah only seeking his forgiveness and satisfaction.

3. Struggling against the self (Jihad Al Nafs)

Performing Hajj is a kind of Jihad as the pilgrims avoid all the prohibitions and sins to obey Allah.

Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) asked prophet Muhammed (PBUH):

“O Messenger of Allah, is jihad a duty upon women?” The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Yes, jihad is a duty upon them in which there is no fighting: the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages.”

4. Honouring the rituals of Allah 

Performing Hajj represents honouring rituals such as Talbyiah, Waqfat Arafat, and Tawaf Al Ifadah.

5. Forgiving sins

Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) said:” Whoever performs Hajj for the sake of Allah and does not utter any obscene speech or do any evil deed, will go back (free of sin) as his mother bore him.”

6. Gaining immense rewards 

Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) said:” An accepted pilgrimage brings no less a reward than Paradise.”

Importance of Hajj in the Quran

The importance of Hajj was mentioned in the Quran several times:

1. Achieving monotheism

In the Quran, Allah mentioned building the holy Kabaa which represents the oneness of worshipping Allah.

{And ˹remember˺ when We assigned to Abraham the site of the House, ˹saying,˺ “Do not associate anything with Me ˹in worship˺ and purify My House for those who circle ˹the Ka’bah˺, stand ˹in prayer˺, and bow and prostrate themselves.}(AL-Hajj 22:26)

2. Purifying the soul

Performing Hajj is an opportunity to purify the soul from all forms of abominations:

{ Whoever commits to ˹performing˺ pilgrimage, let them stay away from intimate relations, foul language, and arguments during pilgrimage} (Al-Baqarah 2:197)

3. Honouring Hajj rituals 

Allah Says in the Quran:

{That is so. And whoever honors the symbols of Allah, it is certainly out of the piety of the heart.} (Al-Hajj 22:32)

4. Urging to remember Allah

Performing Hajj is one of the most beloved deeds to Allah which brings closeness to him.

{When you have fulfilled your sacred rites, praise Allah as you used to praise your forefathers ˹before Islam˺, or even more passionately. Some say, “Our Lord! Grant us ˹Your bounties˺ in this world,” but they will have no share in the Hereafter.} (Al-Baqarah 2:198)

Difference Between Hajj and Umrah:

Hajj, obligatory for Muslims, involves four main rituals: Ihram, Saee, Waqfat Arafat, and Tawaf al-Ifadah. Umrah, a non-mandatory practice, includes three pillars: Ihram, Tawaf, and Saee. Unlike Hajj, which occurs annually during a specified period, Umrah can be performed at any time of the year except during the Hajj season.

HajjUmrah
Performing Hajj is obligatory on every Muslim.Performing Umrah represents following the Sunnah of the prophet Muhammed (PBUH). So it’s non-obligatory worship.
Hajj has four pillars: Ihram, Saee, Waqfat Arafat, and Tawaf al-Ifadah.Umrah has three pillars: Ihram, Tawaf, and Saee.
Muslims only do Hajj once a year.Muslims can perform Umrah at any time in the year except for Hajj season.

How Do Muslims Dress for Hajj?

Men Dress for Hajj:Women Dress for Hajj:
Before Men start to perform Hajj rituals, they wear special clothing for Ihram which is not sewn. It’s comprised of two pieces of cloth. It’s called a garment.
Men wear this garment by wrapping one piece around their waist and the other piece they put on their shoulders. As for what they dree up for their feet, they wear slippers or sandals.
There is no special clothing for Hajj for women. But their clothes should be loose and not striking to men. They usually dress up the cloak (Abaya).
If a woman wears a niqab, she should take it off before doing Hajj rituals. It’s not allowed to cover their faces.

Main Steps of the Hajj:

The Hajj pilgrimage involves several essential steps: entering Ihram and reciting the Talbiyah, performing Saee between Safa and Marwa, observing Tarwiyah day in Mina, gathering at Arafat Mount for supplication, spending the night at Muzdalifah, stoning the devil at Mina, offering sacrifices, shaving or trimming hair, performing Tawaf Al Ifadah around the Kaaba, and completing the stoning ritual. The pilgrimage ends with the farewell Tawaf.

1. Ihram 

The first step pilgrims should take to do Hajj rites is Ihram from Miqat. Ihram represents the intention of performing pilgrimage.

In this step, you wear Ihram clothing and recite Talbya, which is:

Labbayk Allaahumma Labbayk, Labbayk laa shareeka laka Labbayk, ‘innal-hamda, wanni’mata, laka walmulk, laa shareeka laka.

“Ever at Your service, O Allah, every at your service. Ever at Your Service, You have no partner, ever at your service. Verily all praise, blessings, and dominions are yours. You have no partner.”
لَبَّيْكَ اللَّهُمَّ لَبَّيْكَ، لَبَّيْكَ لَا شَرِيكَ لَكَ لَبَّيْكَ، انَّالْحَمْدَ، وَالنِّعْمَةَ، لَكَ وَالْمُلْكَ، لا شَرِيكَ لَكَ

2. Saee

Between Safa and Marwa mountains, pilgrims take seven rounds and then do seven laps 

3. Doing payers at Mina 

The second step is related to the “Tarwiyah day”, where pilgrims go to Mina town and stayed to do all the obligatory prayers. They do this ritual on the eighth day of Dhul Hijja.

4. Standing on Arafat Mount 

All the pilgrims gather to stand on Arafat Mount on “Arafa day”, which falls on the 9th day of the month. 

On this day, the pilgrims make duas to Allah and recite Talbiyah. They stay at Arafa Mount till sunset.

5. Praying at Muzdalifah

Between Mina town and Mount Arafat, there is a town called Muzdalifah where the pilgrims stay until the morning of Eid Al Adha.

In this step, they perform Maghrib and Isha prayers together and with Qasr.

6. Stoning the Devil (Rami)

After sunrise, the pilgrims return to Mina to stone the devil by throwing seven pebbles at Jimrat Al Aqaba Al Kubra. 

They perform stoning the devil for three days, starting from the 10th to the 12th day of Dhul Hijja.

7. Offering sacrificed animals 

The next step is slaughtering the sacrificed animals and distributing the meat to the poor.

8. Shaving and shortening hair 

On the 11th day, men shave their heads and women shorten their hair.

After shaving and shortening, pilgrims are allowed to do forbidden activities in Ihram. They are permitted to do any activity except for sexual intercourse.

9. Tawaf Al Ifadah 

The pilgrims head to Mekka on the 12th day of Dhul Hijja to perform tawaf Al Ifadah by circumambulating around Kabaa seven times.

On the same day, they complete rami or stoning the devil by throwing 21 pebbles. 

When they perform stoning the devil they say “Allahu Akbar الله أكبر”, which means “Allah is the greatest”.

10. The farewell tawaf (Tawaf Al Wida)

On the last day of Hajj and before leaving Mekka, pilgrims end their pilgrimage by performing farewell tawaf as they circumambulate around Kabba again.

Prohibitions of Ihram 

Here are the prohibitions of Ihram you must commit when you intend to perform Hajj: 

  • Shaving the hair from the head or any other area of the body.
  • Clipping nails.
  • Wearing perfumes on the skin or clothes.
  • Getting Married.
  • Hunting.
  • Having intercourse with the wife.
  • Covering head (for men).
  • Wearing a niqab and gloves (for women).
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Conclusion 

Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam which is obligatory worship on Muslims to do on Dhul Hijja. It’s different from Umrah which is sunnah and Muslims can perform at any time except for the season of pilgrimage.

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