Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam and an annual Islamic pilgrimage to the Holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims who possesses the physical and financial ability, to travel to Saudi Arabia and perform the rituals of Hajj.
Hajj is a pilgrimage that is made to the Holy Ka’aba in the sacred city of Mecca. Holy Ka’ba was built by Prophet Ibrahim along with his son Ismael on the command of Allah. Prophet Ibrahim preached the oneness of Allah. He built the Holy Ka’aba and invited the people there to perform the pilgrimage.
Hajj was introduced by Prophet Ibrahim. The message of Prophet Ibrahim was later reintroduced to the last Prophet Mohammad PBUH. The history of Hajj is traced back to the time of Prophet Ibrahim but the present method of performing this religious duty was established by the Last Prophet Mohammad PBUH.
The literal meaning of Hajj is heading towards any place to pay a visit but in Islamic terms, Hajj is a pilgrimage made to the Holy Ka’aba. It is also a demonstration of the unity of the Muslims and their submission to Allah.
Hajj the biggest Muslim Pilgrimage that takes place in the last month of the Lunar calendar. It starts on 8th Dhul Hijjah and ends on 13th Dhul Hijjah. There are 10 basic rituals of Hajj which should be performed during the Hajj. Among those 10, seven are obligatory rites that must be performed. Here is a guide by The Planet Today on the rituals of Hajj.
State of Ihram
The very first step for any pilgrimage is to enter the state of Ihram. Ihram is a special dress code that shows the modesty and shed all the signs of wealth. For men, Ihram is an unstitched white covering while for women Ihram is the normal stitched clothes and a headscarf. Her clothes should be modest that cover her body.
However, they are forbidden to wear the niqab. The obligatory part of entering an Ihram is that, it should start at the Shariah approved Meeqat. After wearing the Ihram, one should forbid wearing any perfume or cutting his/her hair or nails and sacrificing animals.
After wearing the Ihram, it is must to enter the state of Ihram. To enter the state of Ihram, the pilgrim should recite Talbiya (saying Labaika Allahumma Labaik) to perform Hajj. By saying this, a pilgrim prepares his soul, mind, and body for the pilgrimage. Omitting this rite does not entail any consequences but pilgrims miss a great virtue.
Move to the sacred city
After entering the state of Ihram from Meeqat, it is must for pilgrims to move towards the sacred city of Saudi Arabia, Mecca, as it holds the Masjid Al Haram that surrounds the Holy Ka’aba.
Perform Tawaf Al-Qudum and Sa’ey
On your arrival to the Holy City or its boundaries, it becomes obligatory for you to perform mini-pilgrimage. You have to perform Tawaf Al-Qudum and Sa’ey. Tawaf Al-Qudum means welcome Tawaf. Basically, Tawaf means to circumambulate around the Holy Ka’aba seven times.
It is an integral part of the pilgrimage. Similarly, Sa’ey means to traverse the distance between the two sacred hills Safa and Marwa seven times. Sa’ey commemorates the journey of Prophet Ibrahim’s wife for the search of water for her infant baby Ismael.
Departure to Mina
The first day of Hajj starts from 8th Dhul Hijjah. On this day, the Pilgrims leave for Mina from Mecca. This is also known as the day of Tarwiah and Mina is also known as the tent city. Mina lies seven kilometers northeast of Mecca. The pilgrims are required to stay in Mina until the sunrise of the second day of Hajj (9th Dhul Hijjah). They return back to their tents on the third day of the Hajj to perform the sixth ritual of Hajj which is throwing stones at the devil.
Stay at Mount Arafat
After offering their morning prayer in Mina, the pilgrims are required to start their journey to the deserted planes of the Mount Arafat. Pilgrims have to spend the whole day of 9th Dhul Hijjah in the vicinity of Mount Arafat where they pray to Allah and seek forgiveness for their misdeeds and sins. This is the obligatory part of the Hajj. The pilgrims should stay at the Mount Arafat until the sunset of that day.
Spending night at Al-Muzdallifah
On the night of An-Nahr, the night of the tenth day of Dhul Hijjah, (here we have to memorize that in Lunar calendar, the date changes after sunset) pilgrims are required to spend their night at Al Muzdallifah as it is the obligatory part of Hajj.
Muzdallifah lies on the southeast of Mina. the pilgrims move from the Arafat toward Muzdallifah after the sunset where they offer their Magrib and Isha prayers together. On the land of Muzdallifah, pilgrims have to collect pebbles for the sixth ritual of Hajj which is symbolic stoning to Devil.
Ramy Al Jamarat
On the tenth day of Dhul Hijjah, the pilgrims are required to stone the three Jamarat (stone pillar). Jamarat Al-Aqaba must be stoned on the day of Eid. The three Jamarat should also be stone on the days of Tashreeq. It is also an obligatory ritual of Hajj.
The three days of Eid are spent by stoning the Jamarat, the three walls or pillar that represent the Devil.
Sacrificing the animals
Pilgrims slaughter the animals in the honor of Prophet Ibrahim and his willingness to sacrifice his son on the command of Allah. Pilgrims purchase token to have sheep slaughtered in Mina and some are informed about their animal sacrifice through text messages.
Tawaf AL-Ziyarah or Tawaf Al-Ifadah
After performing all the rituals of Hajj, pilgrims return back to their tent. The last and the obligatory ritual of Hajj is Tawaf Al-Ziyarah also known as Tawaf Al Ifadah. Once a pilgrim is assured that his animal has been sacrificed. He should move to the Masjid Al Haram to perform Tawaf Al-Ziyarah. It is the last formal rite of the Hajj.
According to some scholars, If this ritual is missed, your Hajj is void. As the Prophet PBUH commanded the pilgrims that the last thing you should do in Mecca is to circumambulate Al-Bayt. Pilgrims are required to circumambulate the Holy Ka’aba, seven times and also perform Sa’ey.
Release from the state of Ihram and shave your head
After performing Tawaf Al- Ziyarah, the pilgrims can now come out of the state of Ihram. They have to shave their head or trim their hairs while women pilgrims are also required to trim her hairs as prescribed.
Leave Mina after finishing stoning the Jamarat
After performing Tawaf Al-Ziyarah and trimming your hairs. You can come open your Ihram and do everything that was forbidden while you were in the state of Ihram. Yet you still have to spend the nights in Mina and return back after the days of Tashreeq or 13th Dhul Hijjah when you finish stoning the devil.
Besides this, it is compulsory to leave Mina before the sunset and if anyone fails to return before sunset then he should spend one more night in Mina and leave the next day before sunset.