Traditional Hajj Islamic Pilgrimage
Every year, millions of Muslims from around the world make the journey to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for the annual pilgrimage (or Hajj). Dressed in the same simple white clothing to represent human equality, the pilgrims gather to perform rites dating back to the time of Abraham.
Hajj is considered one of the five “pillars” of Islam. Muslims are required to make the pilgrimage once in their lifetime if they are physically and financially able to make the journey to Mecca.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE HAJJ?
The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, and all able-bodied Muslims are required to perform it once in their lifetime. The hajj is seen as a chance to wipe clean past sins and start fresh. Many seek to deepen their faith on the hajj, with some women taking on the Islamic hair covering known as “hijab” upon returning.
May Allah (SWT) give all of us blessings to perform Hajj.
What are the rites of Hajj?
The main rituals of the Hajj pilgrimage are:
When they arrive in Mecca, pilgrims enter the state of ihram (purity) for the Hajj pilgrimage. Men must wear the ihram garments consisting of two white, seamless sheets wrapped around the body, and sandals. As well as purity, this clothing symbolizes equality and unity as there are no visible reminders of class, wealth, status or culture. Requirements for women are less strict and they usually dress in white with only faces and hands uncovered.
While in the state of ihram, pilgrims must – among other things – not cut their nails or hair, not engage in sexual activity, argue or fight.
Each person walks counter-clockwise seven times around the Ka’aba (the cube-shaped building and the direction of prayer for Muslims everywhere) in Masjid Al-Haram. The Ka’aba was built by Ibrahim (alaihis salaam) and is the most sacred site in Islam.
Al-Safa and Al-Marwah
Pilgrims run seven times between the mountains of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah as Hajar did during her search for water.
Pilgrims go to the plains of Mount Arafat, where the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) gave his last sermon, to stand in vigil.
Stoning the Devil
After Arafat, they move to Muzdalfah and then to Mina to perform a symbolic stoning ritual in which they fling pebbles at three walls known as jamarat. This symbolizes how the devil tried to mislead Ibrahim (alaihis salaam) from following Allah but was fought off when the prophet threw stones at him on three occasions.
Eid ul Adha
The tenth day of the month of Dhu al-Hijja marks the start of the three-day festival of Eid ul Adha (the Feast of Sacrifice). The pilgrims perform the ritual of animal sacrifice (Qurbani) and continue with other rites to complete their Hajj.
Qurbani, or Udiyah as it is known in Arabic, commemorates the sacrifice Ibrahim (alaihis salaam) was willing to perform of his son Ismail (alaihis salaam) for Allah, who spared his son by sending down a ram to take his place.