The religion of Islam is comprised of five core pillars, and one of those pillars is Hajj, but what is Hajj, and why is it important?
Each of the Five Pillars holds special significance for Muslims because they form the basis of the religion of Islam, and all Muslims should seek to live their lives by the Five Pillars to please Allah (SWT). That said, what is the meaning of Hajj? Hajj is the Fifth Pillar of Islam which means it is one of the basic foundations of Muslim beliefs – no matter which school of thought a person may follow.
What Does Hajj Mean?
Hajj translates in English as ‘pilgrimage’ and refers to the pilgrimage to Mecca that all able Muslims should undertake at least once in their life. For many people, it depends on their financial capabilities and physical health, but every able Muslim should perform it at least once.
Do all Muslims Perform Hajj?
As Hajj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, it is expected that all able Muslims undertake the pilgrimage at least once in their life; however, there are a handful of exceptions, including:
- Those who are physically/mentally impaired
- Elderly, frail, or otherwise sick Muslims
- Muslims who cannot afford the expenses of the trip
Aside from these instances, every Muslim is expected to perform Hajj.
How Long is Hajj?
Hajj is 10 days.
When is Hajj?
Hajj takes place during the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah, the 12th and final month in the Islamic (lunar) calendar.
When is Hajj 2023?
Hajj 2023 is expected to take place from Monday, 26 June, to Saturday, 1 July.
Where is Hajj?
Hajj takes place in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
What happens on Hajj?
During the pilgrimage to Mecca, Muslims undertake a series of rituals. Below is an outline of the seven main rituals and what happens on Hajj:
- Ihram – Muslims should observe Hajj in a state of purity called Ihram. This means no arguing or fighting, abstinence from sexual activity and refraining from trimming hair and nails. In addition to this, Muslims should wear appropriate ihram clothes. For men, Ihram clothes take the form of two white sheets wrapped around the body. The sheets should be seamless, and sandals are to be worn on the feet. Doing so eliminates any trace of wealth or class status and renders everyone equal. For women, there are no set Ihram clothes rules aside from leaving the face and hands uncovered, but many women choose to wear white.
- Tawaf – The Kaaba is the most sacred site for Muslims around the world and is located in the Masjid Al-Haram. It was built by Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and his son, Ismail (AS), and whilst performing salat (daily prayers), Muslims do so in the direction of the Kaaba. During Hajj, Muslims move anticlockwise around the Kaaba seven times which is known as Tawaf.
- Al-Safa / Al-Marwah – It is said that Prophet Ibrahim (AS) was ordered by Allah (SWT) to leave his wife, Hajar, and his newborn son, Ismail (AS), in the desert. Prophet Ibrahim (AS) left them with limited resources, and when these expired, Hajar ran seven times between Safa and Marwah (two hills) in an attempt to find water. Angel Jibril appeared and directed me to a water spring in the ground. Hajar built a well around the spring, which is now known as the Well and Zamzam. To honour Hajar’s efforts, Muslims run seven times between the Al-Safa and Al-Marwah hills, both located in the Masjid Al-Haram.
- Mount Arafat – Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) received his first revelation from Allah (SWT) and performed his final sermon at Mount Arafat on the edge of Mecca. It is now a highly sacred site, and during Hajj, Muslims go to Mount Arafat and observe a vigil.
- Stoning of the devil – After leaving Mount Arafat, Muslims partake in the ritual of stoning the devil. Prophet Ibrahim (AS) is said to have been approached by the devil on three separate occasions as he sought to dissuade Ibrahim (AS) from obeying Allah (SWT). In response, Prophet Ibrahim (AS) threw stones at him. To mark this, Muslims throw stones at three walls in Mina as part of the Hajj.
- Eid al-Adha – On the 10th day of Dhul Hijjah, Eid al-Adha begins and is marked by the sacred Eid prayer. Eid al-Adha is the greater Eid and is a designated period of three days of celebration as marked out by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
- Qurbani – The final part of the Hajj pilgrimage is Qurbani, which commences following the Eid al-Adha prayer. Qurbani is the sacrifice of an animal, which is observed by Muslims to honour the sacrifice Prophet Ibrahim (AS) was willing to make by giving his son, Ismail (AS), as per Allah’s (SWT) command. At the last moment, Allah (SWT) saved Ismail (AS) and put a goat in his place. For this reason, all Muslims should make a Qurbani sacrifice or a Qurbani donation.
These are the seven main ways denoting how to perform Hajj.
What is the difference between Hajj and Umrah?
Umrah is when a Muslim makes the trip to Mecca and performs the pilgrimage rituals at any other time of the year outside of Dhul Hijjah. Umrah is not an obligatory religious duty, as it is a minor pilgrimage, but it is recommended to still perform Umrah.
Hajj is an obligatory religious duty and only takes place during Dhul Hijjah, while Umrah is performed all year round.
Please consider making your Qurbani donation to Orphans in Need as Dhul Hijjah and Eid al-Adha approach.