The sight of thousands of pilgrims swirling in unison around the Kaaba within the holy Mosque at Makkah during Hajj is an iconic spectacle. But what are the roots of this religious tradition, and what happens over its duration? Get all the details on the holy pilgrimage with our guide to everything you need to know about Hajj.
What is Hajj
Hajj is an annual, six-day Muslim pilgrimage to Makkah in Saudi Arabia, made by over two million pilgrims. Islam requires every financially and physically able Muslim to make the journey once in their lifetime. The purpose of Hajj for Muslims is to unify their beliefs and submit to Allah . It’s one of the five pillars of Islam, along with faith, prayer, charity and fasting.
When is Hajj
The date differs each year according to the lunar calendar, but Hajj is always held approximately two months and 10 days after Ramadan, in the 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Dhul-Hijjah.
This history of Hajj
The rituals performed at Hajj follow the same actions undertaken by Islam’s prophet, Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) 1,400 years ago. Around 2,000 BC, following the orders of Allah, prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) is said to have originally built the grounds and site known as the Kaaba which led to the forming of the House of Allah where the sacred mosque stands today. Hajj was made obligatory to Muslims in the ninth year AH. During this time, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) led a group of Muslims there in the first known Hajj and re-dedicated the site in the name of Allah. It is this path that Muhammad (PBUH) and his followers travelled that’s retraced again during Hajj today. Hajj therefore offers a sense of connection with the Prophets (peace be upon them) who built the House and offer respect for the sanctity of Makkah.
What happens during Hajj
Over the course of the six days, pilgrims carry out certain rituals In Hajj in remembrance of Allah. Men are required to dress in ihraam —two white sheets wrapped around the bodyand women wear the hijab. The whiteness and cleanness of the pilgrims’ clothes is a sign of inward purity. During these days of Hajj the Muslims also demonstrate unity in time, place, actions and appearance. All pilgrims stand in the different locations of Hajj at the same time, doing the same actions, wearing the same clothes with humbleness before Allah.
Day one of Hajj begins at Mina, a vast city of tents where worshippers spend the day in prayer and rememberence of Allah. Day two is dedicated to prayer at Mount Mercy at Arafat, 14km from Mina—the scene of Prophet Muhammad's final sermon. The night is spent at Muzdalifah, between Mina and Arafat, and pebbles will be collected for the upcoming Jamarat ritual. Before sunrise, pilgrims make the journey back to Mina where pebbles are thrown at the three pillars, symbolising the stoning of the devil. As per the Islamic view the devil appeared in front of Abraham, who responded by throwing stones at him to scare him off. This act continues for the next few days and as part of the ritual an animal sacrifice is also offered and the male worshippers will trim or shave their hair. Again this demonstrates respect for the rituals prescribed by Allah, and eating from the meat they have sacrificed or giving it in charity to the poor. The last day of Hajj sees the pilgrims circumambulating the the Kaaba, which is also known as the farewell tawaf. Pilgrims walk around the Kaaba seven times, counter-clockwise. Once the farewell Tawaf is performed, the Hajj is over and pilgrims return back to their homes. There is an immense reward for the one who completes the Hajj, pilgrims feel proud, happy and content when they have completed Allah’s commands. Completing the Hajj also is a great act of worship that was prescribed by Allah so that Muslims might praise Him and glorify Him, and thank Him for His great blessings and bounty.
The Jabal Omar Jumeirah Makkah Hotel is scheduled to open in 2019 and will be located withing walking distance of the holy Mosque at Makkah.