And proclaim unto mankind the Pilgrimage. They will come to thee on foot,
and on every lean camel, coming by every distant track’
(Chapter 22 Verse 28)
The Hajj is one of the five basic pillars of Islam. It is compulsory for every Muslim man and woman to perform the Hajj at least once in their lifetime, provided that they are healthy, have the means to make the journey and are able to travel safely. The pilgrimage of Hajj as an institution began with the patriarchal Prophet Abrahamas. It was prophesied that the Ka’bah would one day become a great centre to which people would flock from distant lands.
Each year, millions of Muslims travel to Makkah in order to fulfil this worship. The Review of Religions presents an overview of the essential rituals and rites of the Hajj.
Miqat for Hajj
Muslims from across the globe converge at Makkah to perform the Hajj. The Holy Prophetsa has specified the Miqats, or designated places, from where the pilgrims will enter into the state of Ihraam (a sacred state in which one must enter to perform the Hajj), depending on which area of the world they are coming from.
At these Miqats pilgrims perform the ablution and wear two unstitched white sheets. Women are not obliged to wear special clothes and wear their normal clothes instead. After this the pilgrims make their way to Makkah.
The Stages of Hajj
The pilgrims arrive at Makkah prior to 8th Dhul Hijjah. They perform seven circuits arround the Ka’bah known as the Tawaaf. After this they perform two sets of voluntary prayers. Thereafter, they complete seven circuits in between the two hills of Safa and Marwa.
2. Mina (approximately 7 kilometres from Makkah)
On 8th Dhul Hijjah the pilgrims travel to Mina, where they spend the day and offer the Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha’a prayers.
On 9th Dhul Hijjah the pilgrims offer Fajr (the dawn prayer) in Mina and then leave for ‘Arafat.
On the 9th of Dhul Hijjah the pilgrims arrive in the afternoon and combine the Zuhr and Asr prayers. They then spend the rest of the afternoon in personal remembrance of God. This ritual is known as Wuqoof-e-Arafat (the stay in Arafat) and is a compulsory part of Hajj. After sunset they leave for Muzdalifah.
On the 9th of Dhul Hijjah, the pilgrims arrive in Muzdalifah after sunset and combine the Maghrib and Isha’a [evening] prayers. They spend the night in the open plain of Muzdalifah. They offer the Fajr prayer in Muzdalifah on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah and head towards Mash’ar Al-Haram before sunrise where they occupy themselves in the remembrance of God.
5. Mash’ar Al-Haram – Mina – Makkah
10th Dhul-Hijjah is known as Eid-ul-Adha. Pilgrims travel from Mash’ar Al-Haram back to Mina where they throw seven stones at Jamarat Al-’Aqbah (a stone pillar to represent the temptation of Satan). Then they offer the sacrifice of an animal, shave their heads and put on their normal clothes. They then return to Makkah to perform seven circuits of the Ka’abah.
On 11th Dhul-Hijjah, the ritual of pelting is performed, but now all three Jamarat (stone pillars) are targeted. On 12th Dhul-Hijjah, after pelting the three Jamarat again, the pilgrims leave for Makkah; there they perform Tawaf-e-Ifadah. However, if the pilgrims wish to stay at Mina for a sixth day, 13th Dhul Hijjah, they must pelt all three posts that day also, then proceed to Makkah for Tawaf–e-Wada.