The Pilgrimage to Mecca – Hajj – is one of the five pillars of Islam. Labelled as one of the principle pillars of belief, the fact alone is indicative of a required obligation for all Muslims to uphold. In pure essence, every adult Muslim who is physically and financially capable of performing Hajj is obligated to do it at least once in his/her lifetime. Read the article and learn How To Perform Hajj in the right way.
In accordance with the Islamic Calendar, the month of Zilhaj symbolizes the gathering of the Muslim Ummah from all over the world. This action alone signifies the aspects of faith, unity and solidarity as upholded and maintained by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H).
While the specific rituals carried out by Muslims today date back to the Prophet Muhammad’s “farewell pilgrimage” in 632 A.D, travelling to Mecca was a sacred annual rite for Arabian tribes centuries before the advent of Islam. According to Islamic tradition, the Kaaba – a black silk-clad stone structure at the heart of the Grand Mosque in Mecca – was built by the Prophet Abraham in biblical times.
Putting it simply, Hajj is quite a complex measure of worship. Several different ways pertaining to sectarian division have been devised, and somewhere in between, there lie many scholarly differences. Although one should feel obligated to perform the pilgrimage under a unified emblem of Islam, the journey to the Ka’abah still presents an exciting travelling experience.
Can You Perform Hajj?
The Hajj is not to be undertaken lightly or as an afterthought. In ancient times, it was not uncommon for pilgrims to die during their journey to Mecca. Though modern conveniences now allow millions of Muslims to quickly and safely travel to and from the holy city, the Hajj should still be approached with the seriousness and dedication of these early pilgrims.
It is strongly recommended to study the rituals of the pilgrimage. Clear your mind of worldly distractions and most importantly, repent to your heart’s content. God is All-Merciful, so have faith that your sins will be forgiven by the time you arrive in Mecca!
As it is the case with all forms of worship, a Muslim’s Hajj must be undertaken with sincerity and out of devotion to God. The pilgrimage cannot be performed for the purpose of gaining worldly desires or materialistic recognition, but for the sake of spiritual cleansing.
Perform Hajj in accordance with the words and deeds of Holy Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H). The simplest way to walk the Islamic way is by following the Sunnah.
How To Perform Hajj | The Type of Hajj to Undertake
According to Islamic rules and regulations, Muslims have three different options when it comes to performing Hajj. Each option is slightly different in terms of rituals performed, and the timeline of events on the pilgrimage is quite different. The three types of hajj are as follows:
- Tamattu. This is the most common form of pilgrimage and the one recommended by the Prophet Muhammad himself (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Tamattu’ involves the pilgrim performing the rites of the minor pilgrimage ritual known as Umrah, then performing the rites of the Hajj. Pilgrims performing Tamattu’ are called Mutamatti. As this is the most common type of pilgrimage, especially for foreigners to Saudi Arabia, the rest of this guide assumes you will be performing this type of pilgrimage.
- Qiran. In this option, the pilgrim performs the rites of both the Umrah and Hajj in one continuous act with no “break” in the middle. Pilgrims performing Qiran are called Qaarin.
- Ifraad. Finally, this form of pilgrimage involves performing only the rites of the Hajj – not of the Umrah as well. This form of pilgrimage is also notable for being the only one that does not require animal sacrifice. Pilgrims performing Ifraad are called Mufrid.
Plan Your Itinerary For Saudi Arabia
Hajj is entirely held in and around the holy city of Mecca.
As when traveling to any foreign country, you want to have your passports, travel documents, tickets, and so forth sorted out well in advance. Keep in mind that national governments can sometimes be slow to issue new passports when old ones expire.
- The Hajj occurs from the 8th to the 12th of Zilhaj, the 12th month of the Islamic calendar. Because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, the date of the Hajj changes from year to year on the Western Gregorian calendar. Note that, according to the Saudi government, the last day that pilgrims are allowed to arrive at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah for the Hajj is the 4th of Zilhaj.
- The Saudi government offers special “Hajj visas” to American Muslims who have not made the pilgrimage in the last five years. Obtaining one of these visas requires an up-to-date passport, a completed application form, copies of marriage or birth certificates, and an up-to-date immunization record.
- Pilgrims often travel to perform the Hajj in groups as a sign of solidarity. Contact members of your local Muslim community to see if any of them are performing Hajj this year – if so, you may want to consider coordinating your trips.
Prepare To Be Basked In Religion – And Complications..
Known as a traditionalist Islamic Monarchy, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has set rules for personal conduct – especially regarding women – that may seem unfamiliar to the incoming foreign traffic. Putting it simply: all women performing Hajj should plan to travel in the company of a mahram – any related man, such as their father, brother, husband, son, or any approved individual according to Islamic rules. Women over 45 can perform the Hajj without a Mahram if they are part of a large group and have a notarized letter of consent from their husband.
All people – women and men – who are attending the Hajj should prepare to be exceedingly modest for the duration of their stay in Saudi Arabia. Clothing must be modest and unadorned – for much of the pilgrimage, special religious garb is required for men. Cologne, perfume, makeup, and scented soap should be avoided. When a pilgrim enters the sacred Ihram state of ritual purity, smoking, swearing, shaving, cutting one’s nails, and sexual intercourse are forbidden.
Rites of Umrah
Assume Ihram. Ihram is a holy state of purity that all Muslims must assume before performing the rites of Umrah and Hajj and which must be maintained for the duration of the rituals. Ihram requires certain physical actions and behavioral changes, but don’t be mistaken – the real state of purity is attained spiritually by proclaiming one’s intention to sincerely pursue the Umrah/Hajj and by reciting the Talbiyah prayer. Thus, someone who assumes Ihram externally but doesn’t have sincere belief in his or her heart isn’t truly fulfilling Ihram. Men and women enter into Ihram differently – see below for details:
- Men: Shave, comb your hair, trim or shape your facial hair, cut your nails, and remove unwanted body hair. Bathe (or perform wudu, partial ablution) with the intention of Ihram, but don’t apply cologne or other scents. Sincerely repent for your sins.
- Clothe yourself in clean, plain Ihram sheets – wrap one around your waist and wear the other over your upper body. Wear simple sandals or flip flops that don’t cover the top portion of your foot. Avoid covering your head. These simple garments signify the equality of all before God – the wealthiest king and the lowliest beggar wear the same clothes on the Hajj.
- Women: As with men, you should shave and groom yourself, bathe, avoid applying scents, etc. You should also avoid applying makeup or other cosmetics. However, besides the requisite sandals, women don’t have special clothes for Ihram – their ordinary clothes should be used, provided that they are clean and modest.
- Note that in Islam, covering the head with a veil, scarf, etc. is “mandatory” attire for women and should be done on the Hajj too.
How To Perform Hajj | Declaration – Intention And Talbiyah
A special boundary called a Miqat surrounds the holy sites of the Hajj. Pilgrims cannot cross this boundary without having attained the pure state of Ihram. When a pilgrim in the state of Ihram approaches the Miqat at one of six historical entry points, he pronounces the Niyyah – a short recitation of his intention to complete the Umrah. Then, at the Miqat, the pilgrim recites the Talbiyah, a prayer that will be repeated often during the pilgrimage. The words of the Talbiyah are:
- Labbayk Allaah humma labbayk, labbayka laa shareeka laka labbayk. Innal hamda wan-ni’mata laka wal-mulk, laa shareeka lak.
- “Here I am O Allah, (in response to Your call), here I am. Here I am, You have no partner, here I am. Verily all praise, grace and sovereignty belong to You. You have no partner.”
- If she or he has not already entered into the state of Ihram, the pilgrim must do so at the Miqat before crossing.
Note – it is tradition to enter these holy entryways and most other holy buildings with the right foot first.
How To Perform Hajj | Tawaf – The Holy Ka’abah
At first sight of the Ka’abah, keep your eyes fixed on it and stand to the side of the crowd as you say “Allahu Akbar” (“God is Great”) three times, followed by saying “La Ilaha Illallah” (“There is no god but Allah”). Recite other holy verses if you desire. Say a blessing for the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and, in total humility, make your prayers to Allah. This is one of the best times to pray, for it is the time for acceptance and closeness to Allah.
Perform the Tawaf. It is an anti-clockwise encirclement of the Ka’abah that subjugates the pilgrims towards the connection with the holy site. In detail: All should face the Ka’bah so that the Black Stone is on your right. Make another Niyyah for Umrah, saying: Allah huma inee ‘ureedul ‘umrata fa yasir haa lee wata qabal haa min nee (O Allah, I perform Tawaf of Umrah to please You. Make it easy for me and accept it from me).
- Next, begin to move to the right. Draw close to the Black Stone (the Eastern cornerstone of the Ka’bah) and, if possible, kiss it. If you can’t get close enough to kiss it, you may touch it with your hand. If you can’t get close enough to touch or kiss it, lift your hands to your ears, palms facing towards the Black Stone, and recite this short prayer: Bismillahi Allahu Akbar wa lilah hil-hamd. Don’t shove or fight for a chance to touch the Black Stone.
- Begin to circle the Ka’abah. Walk counter-clockwise so that the Ka’abah stays at your left. Circle the Ka’abah seven times, praying as you do so. There are no designated prayers for the Tawaf, so you may use ones from your daily life or simply pray from your heart. You may also point at the Black Stone each time you walk by it.
- When you’ve completed seven circles, you are finished. Men can now cover their right shoulder.
Sa’ey means “seeking” or “ritual walking”. In practical terms, it means walking back and forth seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwah which are to the south and north of the Ka’bah, respectively. Originally, this was done outdoors, but today, the entire path is enclosed in a long gallery.
- After reaching the top of Safa, recite another Niyyah, saying: Allah huma inee ureeduss sa’ ya baynas safaa wal marwata sab ‘ata ashwaatin lilaahi ta’aala fa yasir hoo lee wata qabal hu minee. (O Allah! I intend to perform seven rounds of Sa’ey between Safa and Marwah to please You. Make it easy for me and accept it from me) Then, add: Inn-as-Safa wal-Marwa-ta min Sha’aa’irillah (Indeed Safa and Marwah are among the Signs of Allah). Finally, face the Ka’bah and recite “Allahu Akbar” three times. Add any additional prayers you may wish, then proceed towards Marwah.
- As you move towards Marwah, recite: Subhan-Allah, wal-hamdu-lillah, wa la ilaha ill-Allah, wallahu Akbar, wa la haula wa la quwwata illa-billa, or, if you can’t remember this, use the shortened form, Subhanallah, Alhamdu Lillah, Allahu Akbar. You may add any prayers you wish. At the top of Marwah, repeat the glorification of God while facing the Ka’bah, then walk down from the hill again.
- When you’ve walked back and forth seven times, you are finished.
Get Your Hair Shaved/Clipped
Declaration Of Intention To Perform Hajj
Depending on how you’ve planned your trip, most pilgrims performing Tamattu pilgrimage have a several-day break between their Umrah and Hajj duties. Same as before, perform another Niyyah:
Allahuma in nee u-reedul hajja fayassir hu lee wata qabal hu min nee (O Allah! I intend to perform Hajj. Please make it easy for me and accept it from me). After, say the Talbiyah three times.
The rites of hajj last 5 days from the 8th to the 12th of Zilhaj. For this reason – among others – you must maintain ihram for three days.
Head To Mina
On the first night, no major rituals take place, so you may spend your time praying and reflecting with other pilgrims if you wish. Many pilgrims choose to say the Dhuhr, Asr, Magrib, Isha and Fajr prayers.
- Note that, in Mina, men and women stay in separate tents, which are located adjacent to each other. Though husbands and wives may interact, men cannot enter women’s tents.
Head to Arafat
On the second day, pilgrims travel to Arafat for Waquf. No specific prayers are assigned for the Waquf, so simply pray to Allah sincerely from your heart. Many pilgrims like to also spend time reflecting on the course of their life, their future, and their place in the world
Next, go to Muzdalifah – between Mina and Arafat – and proceed to prayer. In the morning hours, gather pebbles for the stoning ceremony. This ceremony can be extremely crowded, tense, and emotional. Trampling deaths, though rare, have occurred. Because of this, the elderly, sick, and injured are discouraged from participating. Instead, they may perform this later in the evening or have a friend or confidant perform the ritual in their place.
After the stoning ceremony, offer a Qurbani to Allah. Qurbani, or animal sacrifice, can be done at any point on the 10th, 11th, or 12th day of Zilhaj. If Ramy – stoning ceremony – has to be postponed for any reason, wait until after Ramy to make your sacrifice.
Get your hair cut/shaved
Perform Tawaf and Sa’ey
Repeat Ramy on 4th And 5th Days
In Mina, you must once again participate in the stoning ritual. This time, you will not throw pebbles only at the Jamrat al Aqabah, but also at two other monuments – the Jamrat Oolah (the first jamrat) and Jamrat Wustah (middle jamrat).
- First, throw pebbles at the Jamrat Oolah, then praise Allah and supplicate with your hands raised (there are no assigned prayers, so you may use your own.) Repeat this for the Jamrat Wustah. Finally, throw your pebbles at the Jamrat al Aqabah, but after, you don’t need to pray – you can return home.
- Repeat this ritual after sundown on the fifth day.
Finally, The Farewell Tawaf
Farewell Tawaf is the final tawaf, walking around the Ka’bah seven times as done initially. In this final period, reflect and repent, pray and praise, and make further Dua for your loved ones.
- After making the Hajj, many pilgrims opt to travel to Medina, the second-holiest city in Islam. Here, they can visit such holy sites as The Prophet’s Mosque. No Ihram is necessary to visit Medina.
- Note that foreign pilgrims are required to leave Saudi Arabia by the 10th of Muharram (the 1st month of the Islamic calendar).
Since the month of Hajj is fast approaching, prepare yourself if you intend to visit the Holy cities. Stay up-to-date with news regarding the application procedure, collect all required items, and most importantly, resolve yourself in a state of spiritual realization. Please do remember the team of Pro Pakistani in your prayers.