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Hajj and the way in which it is performed


The word Hajj means to intend to do something. In Islamic terminology, it always refers to the annual holy pilgrimage to Makkah performed by Muslims in the holy month of Zil-Hajj. Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam.

It is a unique form of worship as it is obligatory for only those who can afford it. It requires traveling to Makkah and staying there. One must have enough financial resources as well as be physically fit to bear all costs and burdens that the journey requires. The Holy Quran says:

"Pilgrimage thereto is duty men owe to Allah those who can afford the journey" (Surah Ale-Imran 3:97).

Method of Hajj

The Mawaqeet are the boundaries defined around Haram. The pilgrims must don the Ihram from Meeqat before they proceed to Haram. The Ihram is mandatory for the Hajj. Unless one is a "muhrim" (person wearing Ihram), he or she cannot proceed for the pilgrimage. The Ihram itself is different for men and women. For men, it consists of two sheets of white unstitched cloth and for women, it consists of their ordinary clothes that cover the whole of their body except their faces, hands, and feet. Once in the state of Ihram, the following restrictions must be observed. No bathing, putting on perfume or even using perfumed soap, haggling, or fighting, wearing stitched garments (for men), wearing such shoes that cover the middle bone of the foot for men; cutting or trimming nails or hair, to cover the head (for men), to cover the face (for women), to engage in any kind of forbidden activity, to hunt or even tempt or help others to hunt, to kill even the minutest of creatures, to cut grass or pluck plants. The Holy Quran says:

".. if anyone undertakes that duty (the Hajj) therein let there be no obscenity nor wickedness nor wrangling in the Hajj..." (2:197).

Now the "mahram" begins to recite (men loudly and women silently) the Talbiya. The words are:

"O! Allah, I am at Your service, There is no partner with you, I am at Your service, All praise and all blessing belong to You, and all sovereignty belongs to You; There is no partner with You."

There are five days of Hajj in which various rituals (manasik) are to be performed, beginning with the 8th Zil Hajj and ending on the 12th Zil Hajj.

First Day: 8th Zil Hajj

Pilgrims have arrived in the state of Ihram in Makkah and performed Tawaf-e-Qudum. The Sunnah method of Tawaf is in a state of Ihram, beginning with Islam (greeting the Hajar-e-Aswad with a salute or a kiss) and ending with two rakats at or around Maqam-e-Ibrahim. If possible the Sai'y is also performed. Say involves seven trips on foot between the Safa and Marva Hills, starting at Safa and ending at Marva. This is in the manner that Hazrat Hagar, the wife of the Prophet Ibrahim, ran between them when she was looking for water for her infant son, Ismael. Now the pilgrims proceed to Mina. It is a large expanse of land three miles east of Makkah. They stay there until the time for Fajr’s prayers the next day. As many supplications as possible are to be made during the stay.

Second Day: 9th Zil Hajj

After offering Fajr in Mina, the pilgrims proceed to Arafat, another large tract of land six miles from Mina. The Holy Prophet (ﷺ) said that on the Day of Reckoning, all mankind shall gather here. They are to stay there until Maghrib on the same day. This is known as Wuquf (stay) and is the Rukn-e-Azam (grand pillar) of Hajj. When the time for Zuhr begins, and before the Asr, Zuhrain (both Zuhr & Asr) is offered in the manner of travelers. This means shortening (qasr) and combining (JAMA) within Zuhr's time. Only one Azan is announced but two Iqama are recited. The Imam of Hajj delivers the sermon (Khutba) from the Mount of Mercy. The pilgrims leave after sunset without offering Maghrib prayers for Muzdalifa. Muzdalifa is a plain between Mina and Arafat, six miles from Makkah and three miles from Mina. Again the main act of worship here is the offering of supplications that are the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (ﷺ).

Third, Fourth & Fifth Day: 10th Zil Hajj

Upon reaching Muzdalifa the pilgrims offer Maghribain at 'Isha time. This means that both the Maghrib & 'Isha Salah are offered similar manner that the Zuhrain were offered, i.e. jama and qasr. The pilgrims stay here until fajr. This is a special night of worship. The Holy Prophet declared it to be one of the five most exalted nights in a year. After Fajr, they leave for Mina, carrying at least 49 pebbles for Rami there. 10th Zil Hajj marks the 'Eid al Adha' for all Muslims but the pilgrims are not required to offer the 'Eid prayer. These three days are called "Days of Sacrifice" (Ayyam al-nahr). Here, three rituals are carried out in the following order, pelting of Satans (rami), sacrifice (nahr), and shaving of the head or trimming (halq / qasr).

At Mina, there are three large stone pillars (jamarat) that were Satans, turned to stone by the command of Allah. On the 10th Zil Hajj, the largest of them, Jamrat al Aqaba, is pelted with 7 pebbles. In the next two days, all three pillars are pelted, twice each.

Then Nahr (the sacrifice) is performed; a goat individually, a cow or camel collectively by seven pilgrims. Muslims in the rest of the world also perform this ritual of sacrifice in their respective homes. This sacrifice is by the Sunnah of the Prophet Ibrahim, who sacrificed his firstborn son Ismael upon Allah's command. At the last moment, however, the child was replaced with a ram by Jibrael. This grand act of submission to Allah's Will was immortalized by Islam which makes it mandatory for the affording Muslims to offer a sacrifice on 'Eid al-Adha'. This sacrifice may be performed on the 10th, 11th, or 12th Zil Hajj.

After this, the males must shave their heads, although shortening (Qasr) is also permissible. The women-only shorten their hair. All restrictions of Ihram now are relaxed except for intimate relations between husband and wife (that also ends after Tawaf-e-Ziara which is a rukn of Hajj).

Now the pilgrims return to Makkah, and perform Tawaf-e-Ziara, and also Sai'y (if it was not performed earlier). Now the pilgrims return to Mina for two days, i.e. the 11th and 12th for further pelting of the Jamarat. Now Hajj is over and whenever the pilgrim is to leave for his native land, he must perform Tawaf-e-Wida (Wajib act).

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