Hajj & Umrah

The pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) is one of the fundamental obligations in Islamic jurisprudence.

Hajj is the journey to the holy Ka’bah, the sacred House of Allah, in Mecca to worship Allah with special rituals. Kaaba was the first masjid built on earth for the sole purpose of the worship of Allah alone. It was originally built by Adam (AS) and later rebuilt by prophet Ibrahim and his son, Ismail, (AS).

Allah says in His Holy Book:

“And it is for the sake of Allah [a duty] upon the people to do the pilgrimage of the House—whoever has the ability [to travel] to it. And whoever is ungrateful, then surely Allah is free from need of the universe.” (2:196)

In a hadith, Imam al-Baqir (AS) said, “Islam is based on five pillars: on prayer (salat), alms (zakat), pilgrimage (hajj), fasting (sawm), and devotion [to the Ahlul Bayt] (wilayah).”[1]

Hajj is performed during the month of Dhul-Hijjah, the twelfth month of the lunar calendar.

Allah commands that Hajj is performed once in a lifetime by those adults who can afford the journey to Mecca and are physically strong enough to do so. Children may perform the Hajj

too if they wish, but it is not compulsory upon them. Because of the great sacrifices and difficulties in performing the Hajj, Allah grants the pilgrim His greatest rewards.

The pilgrim

leaves everything behind when he leaves for Hajj. All he has are two simple pieces of

cloth to cover his body, called Ihram, and the piety of his heart. In this way, Hajj is a reminder of

our death, when we will leave the world with nothing but simple pieces of cloth to cover our bodies.

Hajj is also a reminder of the Day of Judgement when all human beings will be brought back to life and answer for their deeds on this earth. People gather together on the plains of Arafah around Mecca with nothing but their good deeds and intentions.

Hajj teaches us brotherhood and the equality of all human beings. Muslims from different parts of the world come together in the holy city of Mecca in obedience to Allah.

The Rites of Hajj

The pilgrimage to Mecca consists of a series of rites performed in and around the city of Mecca. The basic rituals of Hajj are as follows:

First, a pilgrim is required to enter the state of Ihram before passing any five stations, better known as Miqat. Second, Muslims are obliged to circle around the Ka’ba seven times during Hajj and Umra. This is known as Tawaf. Next, pilgrims must walk briskly, i.e. perform Sa’y, between Safa and Marwa seven times. Then, when the pilgrims reach the plains of Arafat, they perform Wuquf. All pilgrims spend the day on the plains of Arafat just outside the city of Mecca to supplicate to Allah. After sunset, the pilgrims leave Arafat and stay at a place near Mecca called Muzdalifa. They stay the night in that place. Thereafter, all pilgrims move to an area called Mina where they throw pebbles at three walls (formerly pillars). There and then, it is upon each pilgrim or his proxy to sacrifice an animal. Then, a Muslim must shave or shorten the hair of their heads in a rite called Halq or Taqsir. Finally, pilgrims walk around Ka’ba seven times, once again. This is known as Tawaf al-Nisa.