What is Hajj?
Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam, is a sacred pilgrimage that holds immense significance for millions of Muslims worldwide. Every year, Muslims from diverse backgrounds and cultures gather in Mecca to perform this spiritual journey of a lifetime. It’s obligatory for every Muslim to perform a pilgrimage at least once a time if they can physically and financially able to perform.
The Messenger of Allah said: ‘’The guests of Allah are three: The ghazi, the pilgrim (pilgrim) and the Mu’tamir.’’
[Sunan an-Nasa’i 2625]
The pilgrimage of Hajj holds immense significance in Islam, encompassing the following key aspects:
- A spiritual journey of purification and forgiveness
- Commemorates the actions of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his family
- Symbolizes unity among Muslims from diverse backgrounds
- Opportunity for seeking Allah’s blessings and mercy
- A profound experience of humility and surrender
- Bonding and strengthening of Muslim brotherhood
- Detachment from worldly desires and focus on worship
- Cleansing of sins and starting afresh in faith
History of Kabba
The history of the Kaaba holds great significance in Islamic tradition. Mecca, the birthplace of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), is considered a sacred city, and the Kaaba stands as its central and revered symbol.
According to Islamic history, the Kabba was built by Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son Ismail (Ishmael) (peace be upon them). Hazrat Ibrahim (PBUH), was commanded by Allah to build a sanctuary for the worship of the One true God in the barren land of Mecca. Together with his son, they constructed the Kaaba as a place of monotheistic worship.
Even before Islam, Mecca was the centre and most important place for the non-Muslim community as well. The Kaaba at that time was surrounded by numerous statues representing different gods, which were worshipped by the people. Despite the diversity of beliefs, Mecca was known as a safe place where violence and conflict were strictly prohibited, leading to the flourishing of trade and commercial activities.
Significance of Hajj
Hajj is a fundamental pillar of Islam and serves as a reminder of the pilgrimage undertaken by Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his family. It carries spiritual and historical significance for Muslims.
Steps of Hajj
There are 18 steps in the pilgrimage that should be followed religiously.
- Preparation and intention
- Enter the state of Ihram
- Perform Tawaf (circumambulation) around the Kaaba seven times
- Perform Sa’i (walking between the hills of Safa and Marwa)
- Clip or shave the hair, marking the end of Umrah
- Rest and engage in prayers
- Enter the state of Ihram again
- Arrive at Mina
- Spend the day of ‘Arafah in supplication and reflection
- Move to Muzdalifah and spend the night under the open sky
- Perform the Rami, the stoning of the devil
- Perform Qurbani, the sacrifice of an animal
- Shave the head or trim the hair
- Perform Tawaf al-Ifadah, the circumambulation of the Kaaba
- Perform the Rami again
- Spend the night at Mina
- Perform the Rami once more
- Perform the Farewell Tawaf al-Wida, bidding farewell to the Kaaba
1. The day of Tarwiyah – Dhu Al Hijja 8
It is the first day of the pilgrimage also known as Yawm al-Tarwiyah (the Day of Quenching Thirst). It was given this name because, on this day, early pilgrims were instructed to drink a lot of water and feed their animals before starting their journey. As pilgrims approach Kabba, they circumambulated (Tawaf) anticlockwise.
On this day pilgrims settle in Mina and spend the day in prayer, supplication, and reflection. It is a time to mentally and spiritually prepare for the upcoming rituals. Many pilgrims also engage in recitation of the Quran and seek forgiveness from Allah.
Pilgrims are also required to perform Sa’i by walking or running seven times between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwa. This act symbolizes the strong faith, and trust in Allah shown by Hazrat Hajar, when she was alone with her child and didn’t give up her search for water. It reminds us to believe in Allah and His mercy no matter what trials and tribulations we go through in this world.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The two months of `Id i.e. Ramadan and Dhul-Hijja, do not decrease (in superiority).“
[Sahih al-Bukhari 1912]
2. The day of Arafah – Dhu Al Hijja 9
On this day, pilgrims depart Mina and go to Mount Arafat, a 70-metre hill where the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) gave his final sermon when Islam religion was completed. There Muslims stand and pray.
After that, pilgrims descend from Mount Arafat and move towards Muzdalifah (south of Mina) to pray and prepare themselves for the next day’s ritual. Worshippers gather the pebble and perform the ritual of stoning Jamrat Al Aqabah after midnight.
The Prophet said: “Fast the Day of Arafah, for indeed I anticipate that Allah will forgive (the sins) of the year after it, and the year before it.“
[Jami` at-Tirmidhi 749]
3. Stoning Jamrat Al Aqabah and Eid Al Adha – Dhu Al Hijja 10
On the 10th day of Dhu Al-Hijjah, pilgrims participate in the ritual of stoning the Jamrat Al-Aqabah (location just outside Makkah). This ritual involves throwing pebbles at the Jamrat Al-Aqabah, which is one of the three pillars representing Satan. Pilgrims recite supplications and seek Allah’s forgiveness, while throwing pebbles.
Al-Fadl bin Abbas narrated:
“I was a companion rider with the Messenger of Allah from Jam to Mina. He did not cease saying the Talbiyah until stoning Jamrat Al-Aqabah.“
[Jami` at-Tirmidhi 918]
It is customary to throw the pebbles with the right hand and say “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the Greatest) with each throw. This is done to remember Prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham) rejection of Satan’s temptation during his journey to fulfil Allah’s command to sacrifice his son. It signifies the pilgrims’ commitment to obedience, faith, and reliance on Allah.
After the ritual, Eid-ul Azah is celebrated and the animal is sacrificed in the name of Allah. Men traditionally have the option to shave their heads or trim their hair, symbolizing a fresh start and the completion of their pilgrimage.
Women trim their hair by the length of a fingertip, as a symbol of devotion to Allah. The precise length is not prescribed in the Quran or Hadith.
This act of shaving or cutting the hair signifies humility, purity, and the casting away of one’s ego. It is a physical representation of the spiritual transformation that takes place during this journey.
The Messenger of Allah said: “Al-Fitr is the day that the people break the fast, and Al-Adha is the day that the people sacrifice.”
[Jami` at-Tirmidhi 802]
Importance of Pilgrimage
Pilgrimage holds significant importance for Muslims and can be understood in various aspects.
1. Spiritual Journey
Pilgrimage is a profound spiritual journey that allows Muslims to detach from worldly affairs and worldly pleasure. Muslims are emphasized to pray and ask forgiveness from Allah.
2. Unity and Equality
During the pilgrimage, it doesn’t matter what is your social status or your ethnic background. People visit Kabba from all over the world. All Muslim men wear white garments while Muslim women wear abayas, covering their whole body. It shows us that no one of us is superior in the eyes of Allah except for those who are pious and righteous.
3. Remembrance of Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH)
Pilgrimage commemorates the trials and sacrifices of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his family. Muslims reenact the actions of Prophet Ibrahim and his wife Hajar, including the running between Safa and Marwa and the offering of sacrifices, as a way to honour their strong faith and devotion.
4. Forgiveness and Spiritual Cleansing
The rituals performed during the pilgrimage, such as circling the Kaaba, standing on the plain of Arafat, and stoning the pillars, are believed to purify the soul and grant forgiveness for past sins. It is an opportunity for Muslims to start a new life and seek Allah’s mercy and blessings.
5. Community Bonding:
One important fact about pilgrimage is community bonding. Performing pilgrimage fosters a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood, as pilgrims interact with each other, share experiences, and support one another throughout the journey.
6. Strengthening Faith:
Pilgrimage strengthens faith. Muslims go through physical and emotional exertion during various rituals performed. It leads to spiritual rejuvenation and a reminder that life on Earth is temporary.
7. Test of Endurance and Sacrifice:
Pilgrimage involves physical and mental challenges, such as enduring long hours of travel, crowded conditions, and rigorous rituals. It tests the pilgrim’s patience, perseverance, and willingness to sacrifice all the comforts for the sake of Allah.
8. Divine Blessings:
Pilgrimage holds great importance for Allah. He sheds His blessings and forgives the sinners. Many times, Muslims change themselves by becoming self-disciplined throughout their life due to Allah’s divine blessings.
A Significant Pillar
Hajj serves as a reminder of the temporary nature of life and the ultimate purpose of our existence. It teaches Muslims to be humble and consider everyone equal. It also teaches us to rely on Allah in difficult times and ask His forgiveness. Moreover, Pilgrims reflect upon the trials faced by these noble figures and draw inspiration from their exemplary devotion and submission to the will of Allah.
To stay updated on more blogs like this, you can visit the official website of eQuranekareem online Quran Academy.
At which month should the pilgrimage be performed?
It is performed during the month of Dhu al-Hijjah (8th-12th)
Are Hajj and Umrah different?
Hajj is obligatory for every Muslim who can physically or financially afford it. Umrah is not obligatory and can be performed at any time.
From where can I get Hajj packages 2023?
There are various agencies in your country that can help you with such packages.
Can we perform Umrah in Ramadan?
Yes, Prophet (PBUH) said ‘’Umrah during Ramadan is equal to Hajj.’’
[Jami` at-Tirmidhi 939]