What is hajj?

Labayk Allahuma Labayk
Labayk. La shareeka laka Labayk.
Innal hamda wannimata laka wal mulk    La shareeka Lak

(Here I am at your service, oh Lord, here I am – here I am. No partner do you have.  Here I am. Truly, the praise and the favor are yours, and the dominion. No partner do you have.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are the words chanted by some two million Muslim people from across Saudi Arabia and Muslims all throughout the world heading, as if pulled by a magnet, to one single spot on Earth. As has happened every year for 14 centuries, Muslim pilgrims gather in Makkah to perform rituals based on those conducted by the Prophet Muhammad during his last visit to the city. ( ITS NOT IDOL WORSHIPING)

 

 

 

 


Performing these rituals, known as the Hajj, is the fifth pillar of Islam and the most significant manifestation of Islamic faith and unity. Undertaking the Hajj at least once is a duty for Muslims who are physically and financially able to make the journey to Makkah. The emphasis on financial ability is meant to ensure that a Muslim takes care of his family first. The requirement that a Muslim be healthy and physically capable of undertaking the pilgrimage is intended to exempt those who cannot endure the rigors of extended travel.

The pilgrimage is the religious high point of a Muslim’s life and an event that every Muslim dreams of undertaking. Umrah, the lesser pilgrimage, can be undertaken at any time of the year; Hajj, however, is performed during a five-day period from the ninth through the thirteenth of Dhu Al-Hijjah, the twelfth month of the Muslim lunar calendar.

 

A vast brotherhood Performing the Hajj is the spiritual apex of a Muslim’s life, one that provides a clear understanding of his relationship with God and his place on Earth. It imparts in a Muslim not only the assurance that he has performed the fifth pillar of Islam by following in the footsteps of the Prophet, but also the realization that he is part of an ummah (nation) that is more than one billion strong and spreads across the globe and that he will be new with no sins.

This feeling is brought home upon the pilgrim’s arrival in the Kingdom. Most pilgrims arrive by air, and as their planes taxi toward the impressive Hajj Terminal in Jeddah, they pass jetliners with familiar names, but also ones that bear exotic markings such as “Southern China Airlines” and “Daghestan Airlines” and others from every part of the world.

While waiting to be processed through the arrival hall, the pilgrim begins to shed his identity as he stands amidst a sea of people in Ihram, the two seamless pieces of white cotton that men wear and the simple, generally white or black, attire that women wear.

 

   
Here as you can see, no one can tell a person’s social or economic status, or his national origin based on the clothes he wears. WE ARE ALL THE SAME, there is no difference in nationalities, no black and white, no poor or rich but we ara all humans infront of Allah.

 

 

 

Suddenly the pilgrim is simply, and above all else, a Muslim, and the realization slowly sets in that he is now focusing more than ever on other people’s faces rather than their clothes. These faces represent almost every race or nationality on Earth. As energetic young Saudis move the pilgrims rapidly through customs, he notices Arabs, Indians, Bosnians, Chinese, Spaniards, Africans, Laotians, French, Americans and many others.

 

 

 

Arriving in Makkah
Before heading toward Makkah, the pilgrims are already dressed in Ihram or may change at Miqat, where special facilities are set up for this purpose. By donning the Ihram, the pilgrim enters a state of spirituality and purity.

 

 

On the way from Jeddah to Makkah along the modern superhighway, pilgrims board one of the fleet of 15,000 buses assigned to the Hajj. This vast concourse of vehicles approaches Mina, some four miles to the northwest of Makkah, where most of the pilgrims are housed in the thousands of air-conditioned tents that stretch to the limits of Mina Valley.

 

The rites of pilgrimage
After sunrise on the ninth of the Islamic month of Dhu Al-Hajjah, this vast crowd of nearly two million begins to walk some eight miles to the Plain of Arafat, passing Muzdalifah on the way. Many perform the noon and afternoon prayers at the Nimerah Mosque, a tradition set by the Prophet.

 
Walking from Mina.. Millions are on their way to cast the pebbles on Satan.

Approaching Arafat by midmorning, the pilgrim is amazed to find the vast plain covered by what appears to be a thick fog, even though the temperature hovers around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. This optical illusion is created by thousands of sprinklers placed atop 30-foot poles and spaced some 50 feet apart, which spread a fine mist of water to provide coolness. Millions of containers of chilled water are distributed from refrigerated trucks located along the pilgrim route. 

 

Pilgrims are required to spend the day in the plain, performing what is called the Standing at Arafat. Here they also visit the Mount of Mercy and ask for God’s forgiveness for any sins committed and for blessings. Facilities have also been set up here to feed the pilgrims and meet any requirement they may have.

After the sun has set this river of humanity retraces its steps back toward Makkah, but stops at Muzdalifah until the brightness of day appears on the eastern horizon.

 


Millions Hajj pilgrims make their way to Muzdalifah after performing Wuquf on the plain of Arafat, near Makkah

Here the pilgrims collect seven pebbles and carry them to Mina. As they arrive in the valley, they trek along a two-level pedestrian walkway some 100-yards wide toward the three stone pillars called the Jamarat, which are meant to represent Satan. The pilgrims are required to cast the pebbles they have collected at the Stone Pillar of Aqabah while praising God, in a symbolic rejection of Satan. As the pilgrims approach along the walkway, they join those already at the pillar and, after hurling their pebbles circle toward the exit ramp in the direction of Makkah. Signs in various major languages direct the crowds along the route.

 

 The pilgrims then walk   some four miles along pedestrian walkways to reach Makkah, where they perform the tawaf, circling the Ka’abah in the Holy Mosque seven times counter clockwise. They then perform sa’ay, the running between Safa and Marwa in an enclosed, air-conditioned structure. Male pilgrims are then required to shave their heads, although cutting a lock of hair is acceptable for both men and women. At this point the pilgrims sacrifice an animal, donating its meat to the needy. Each year, over 600,000 animals are sacrificed, in modern abattoirs that complete the processing of the meat over the three days of the Eid. Distribution of this sacrificial meat goes to those in need in some 30 countries.


Safaa wal Marwa
 
The rites of the pilgrimage are now completed. Pilgrims come out of Ihram and wear their normal clothes, but remain at Mina for the Eid Al-Adha, the festival that signals the culmination of the Hajj. Over the next two days, they stone the three pillars in the Jamarat, before performing the Tawaf Al-Wida’, the Farewell Circumambulation of the Ka’abah before their departure from the city.

 


You can see the different races .. all want Allah’s forgivness

While not required as part of the Hajj, most pilgrims visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah during their visit to the Kingdom.

 

 

 

A spiritual Journey
Throughout the Hajj, the largest annual gathering of people on Earth, the pilgrimage is marked by a total absence of any disagreements or altercations among the pilgrims. Courtesy and helping others are the norm. Peace, serenity and piety pervade the entire pilgrimage and the pilgrims.

At the conclusion of the Hajj, the pilgrim has a profound feeling of having gone through a life-transforming spiritual experience. He comes away with pride in having successfully performed a ritual dedicated to God and in belonging to a huge family of people that shares the same religious beliefs. And he has acquired a sense of humility, inner calm, brotherhood and strength that lasts a lifetime.

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3 Responses to “What is hajj?”

  1. Syed H. Jaffar Says:

    Need your permission to use one of your images of the Kaaba for my work on ‘Why Only Islam; The Summation and Culmination’

  2. umm rahel Says:

    My dream is going to Hajj with my husband… inshaAllah

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