The annual pilgrimage to Makkah – the Hajj – is an obligation only for those who are physically and financially able to perform it. Nevertheless, about two million people go to Makkah each year from every corner of the globe, providing a unique opportunity for those of different nations to meet one another. Although Makkah is always filled with visitors, the annual Hajj begins in the twelfth month of the Islamic year (which is lunar, not solar, meaning that Hajj and Ramadan rotate throughout every season). Pilgrims wear special clothes: simple garments which strip away distinctions of class and culture, so that all stand equal before God.
The rites of the Hajj, which are of Abrahamic origin, include circling the Ka’ba seven times, and going seven times between the mountains of Safa and Marwa as Hagar did during her search for water. Then the pilgrims stand together on the wide plain of Arafat and join in prayers for God’s forgiveness.
In previous centuries the Hajj was an arduous undertaking. Today, however, Saudi Arabia provides millions of people with water, modern transport, and the most up-to-date health facilities.
The close of the Hajj is marked by a festival, the Eid al-Adha, which is celebrated with prayers, slaughtering an animal to feed the needy, and the exchange of gifts in Muslim communities everywhere. This, and the Eid al-Fitr, a celebration commemorating the completion of the fasting of Ramadan, are the two holidays celebrated by Muslims worldwide.
Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam. The literal meaning of Hajj is to make intention. In Islamic law, this means to travel to Makka (Saudi Arabia) and perform certain rituals for the intention to worship Allah on specific dates (8-13th) of the month of Dul-Hajj. It is obligatory once in a lifetime on every adult Muslim who is mentally, physically and financially capable of making the journey. It is not mandatory on children. They can accompany their parents or elders for Hajj. But this does not exempt them from their obligation once they are adults. Allah says in the Qur’an;
And Hajj to Allah’s house (Ka’ba) is a duty of people towards Allah, who have the ability to perform. And whoever disbelieves then Allah is not in need of that mankind.
Prophet Mohammad said, “Oh people, Hajj is obligatory on you! Thus you should perform Hajj.”
Fard (Compulsory) acts of Hajj: Missing any of these acts invalidates the Hajj and it must be performed again.
- Making an intention to perform Hajj and wearing Ihram clothes.
- An afternoon Stay in the field of Arafat on the 9th of Zul-Hijja.
- Tawaf of Ka’ba (Tawafi Ziarah) on the 10th of Zul-Hijja.
- Performing these acts in order.
Wajib (required) acts of Hajj: Missing any of these parts can only be compensated with a sacrifice of an animal. These acts should be performed in order.
- Tawaf of Ka’ba at arrival (Tawafi Qodoom).
- Saii (walking 7 times briskly between Safa and Marwa.
- Combine Zuhar and Asr prayer in the field of Arafat.
- Overnight stop at the field of Muzdalifa.
- Combine Maghrib and Isha Prayers at Muzdalifa.
- Rami (throwing stones at Devil pillars).
- Shaving or clipping of hair on the 10th after Rami.
- Sacrifice of an animal.
- Tawaf of Ka’ba at departure (Tawafi Wida).
Type of Hajj: There are three types of Hajj and any one of these is enough to fulfill the obligation, these are as follows.
Hajj Ifrad. This is a simple Hajj without performing Umra. The pilgrim goes to Makkah only in the days of Hajj, enters the state of Ihram and performs all the rites of Hajj. However, he is under no obligation to offer a sacrifice. This type of Hajj is advantageous for local pilgrims.
Hajj Qiran. A pilgrim enters the state of Ihram with the intention of both Umra and Hajj. After completing Umra, the pilgrim stays in the state of Ihram till the end of all the rituals of Hajj. This is called as Hajj Qiran. Since pilgrims continue to be in the state of Ihram, they are forbidden to clip or shave their hair after the completion of Umra.
Hajj Tamatu. If a pilgrim performs Umra and Hajj in the same season but with different Ihrams, it is called Hajj Tamatu. After entering the state of Ihram, the pilgrim performs Umra, clips his head and comes out of the state of Ihram. On 8th of Zul-hijja, the pilgrim again wears Ihram clothes and performs all the rituals of Hajj before coming out of the state of Ihram. In this case, the pilgrims can take advantage of performing acts normally forbidden during Ihram. They can go for shopping or for extra worship at their convenience after performing Umra. This type of Hajj is mostly for those pilgrims who go from far away areas and abroad and they have plenty of time in between performing Umra and Hajj. They visit many historical and spiritual places in Makkah and surroundings.
Procedure for Performing Hajj: A brief but concise description of the Hajj procedure is given here. Readers are requested to study reference books and attend Hajj seminars for a full step by step description.
(A) Meeqat: When people go for Hajj by air, sea or road, there is a place on each side of Makka where people have to wear Ihram clothes, and make intention for Hajj. This place is called Meeqat. Pilgrims (Hajis) are not supposed to go beyond this point without Ihram (for many pilgrims traveling by air, Jaddah is considered as Meeqat for convenience, however, some scholars caution that Jaddah is already inside the Meeqat and therefore pilgrims should enter Jaddah with Ihram). After wearing Ihram clothes, pilgrims pray two Nafal, and ask for the acceptance of Hajj. From this point onwards, pilgrims start saying Talbia, and they are prohibited from using perfumes, any kind of haircut, hunting, cutting nails and worldly matters..
Talbia is as follows;
[Here I am, Oh Allah, here I am. Here I am, there is no one equal and partner with you, praise is yours, blessing is yours, kingship is yours, you do not have any partner].
(B) Tawaf-i-Qudoom (Tawaf of Arrival): After reaching Makka, people take care of their luggage and go to Ka’ba for Tawaf. One corner of the Ka’ba contains Hijr-i-Aswad (black stone). Starting from that corner, pilgrims make Tawaf-Ka’ba (seven counter clockwise circles around the Ka’ba). After completing Tawaf, depending upon time and space, it is preferred to pray two Nafl at a place near Ka’ba called “Maqam-I-Ibrahim” (place of Ibrahim). Otherwise these two Nafl can be prayed anywhere in Masjid-al-Ihram (place surrounding the Ka’ba).
(C) Saii: After Tawaf, pilgrims perform a fast walk in between two places (small hills) named Safa and Marwa 7 times. This walk is called Saii. This is attributed to the remembrance of Ibrahim’s wife, Hajir who ran in between these two hills in search of water for her son Ismail.
After completing Saii, pilgrims clip or shave their hair, return to their residence in Makka and come out of the state of Ihram (for pilgrims who travel by air and mostly perform Hajj-i-Tamattu). They wear normal clothes and whenever possible, they go back to Masjid-al-Ihram (the mosque inside which Ka’ba is located) and pray as much as possible and depending upon one’s own will, do additional tawaf.
(D) Field of Mina: On 8th of Zul-Hajj, all Pilgrims wear Ihram clothes (in the case of Hajj Tamatu only, for Hajj Qiran, they are already in the state of Ihram), come out of their residence in Makkah with as little clothes and things as possible, and go to the field of Mina (by foot or by road, roughly 3-4 miles) and stay there overnight (from afternoon to the next day sunrise).
(E) Field of Arafat: On 9th of Zul-Hajj after sunrise, Pilgrims leave Mina for the field of Arafat (by foot or by road, roughly 5-6 miles) and pray Zuhr and Asr Salat by shortening (Qasr) and combining them together (Prophet Mohammad shortened and combined these two prayers in the field of Arafat). After that, Pilgrims listen to the sermon of the Khateeb, they spend the afternoon until sunset asking for their Maghfirah (repentance, this is the place where the Dua is most accepted by Allah).
(F) Field of Muzdalifa: Soon after sunset but without praying Maghrib Salat, on the same day, pilgrims return from the field of Arafat to stay temporarily at the field of Muzdalifa (by foot or by road, roughly 4 miles) and pray Maghrib and Isha Salat by shortening (Qasr salat for Isha), and combining them together. They collect small stones (pebbles) from this field and have some sleep and rest. On 10th of Zul-hajj, before sunrise they leave the field of Muzdalifa towards Mina (by foot or road, roughly 3 miles).
(G) Jamraat: There are three pillars at a distance from each other on one side of the field of Mina. They are called Jamraat and are symbols of the devil. On first day, 10th of Zul-Hajj, pilgrims throw 7 stones (pebbles) at the last of the three Jamraat (considered as bigger devil) and sacrifice an animal. The process of throwing stones at the devils is called Rami.
(H) Tawaf-i-Ka’ba (Tawaf-i-Ziarah): After throwing the stones at bigger devil, sacrificing an animal the same day and shaving or clipping their hair, they rush to Makkah for Tawaf-i-Ziarah. After the tawaf, they do Saii (for people who do Hajj Tamatu). At this point, Hajj is virtually complete and the pilgrims can come out of the state of Ihram.
(I) Rami: After Tawaf-i-Ziarah, pilgrims go back to the field of Mina and stay there for 11th, 12th, and 13th of Zul-hajj to complete the process of Rami (throwing stones at Jamraat). For two days they throw 7 stones on each pillar (there are three pillars, symbols of devil, two small and one bigger) and come back at their tents in Mina. They return to Makka on the 12th Zul-Hajj, before sunset or they can stay at Mina and return to Makka on 13th of Zul-Hijja after completing any remaining rami part.
(J) Tawaf-i-Wida: Before heading back for home or for Madina to visit Masjid-I-Nabwi and other sacred places, pilgrims do another Tawaf of Ka’ba called Tawaf-ul-Wida (farewell Tawaf) and come back to their place of residence to pack up their luggage.
During this whole process, pilgrims take good advantage of time and place, and pray as much as possible at Haram Sharif (Mosque surrounding Ka’ba), at the fields of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa. Since Hajj can only be performed on specific dates of Zul-hajj (8th through-13th), it is necessary to reach Makka before 8th of Zul-hajj for the purpose of Hajj.
Umra: performing Tawaf-I-Ka’ba and Saii in the state of Ihram during the days other than the Hajj is called as Umra. Some scholars consider Umra as a fard (obligatory), whereas others say it is highly recommended and Sunnah. One however, gets a high reward of performing Umra. Pilgrims going for Hajj also perform Umra.
Visit of Masjid-I-Nabwi (In Madina): After or before Hajj, it is a highly recommended tradition to visit Masjid-I-Nabwi and other sacred places in Madina. Muslims try to pray as many Salats as possible in Masjid-I-Nabwi during their visit. Although, this visit is not the part of Hajj, Muslims are encouraged to visit and pray in Masjid-I-Nabwi.
 Surah 3 (Al-Imran), Part of Ayah 97.
 Hadith Muslim.