The Hajj (Arabic: حج Ḥajj) is the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is currently the largest annual pilgrimage in the world,
Hajj in Pictures
Hajj Rites - in briefOn the first day of the Hajj, pilgrims sweep out of Makkah towards Mina, a small uninhabited village east of the city. Pilgrims generally spend their time meditating and praying, as the Prophet (PBUH) did on his pilgrimage.
During the second day, the 9th of Zul-Hijjah, pilgrims leave Mina for the plain of 'Arafat for the wuquf, "the standing," the central rite of the Hajj. As they congregate there, the pilgrims' stance and gathering reminds them of the Day of Judgment. Some of them gather at the Mount of Mercy, where the Prophet (PBUH) delivered his unforgettable Farewell Sermon, enunciating far-reaching religious, economic, social and political reforms. The Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have asked God to pardon the sins of pilgrims who "stood" at 'Arafat, and was granted his wish. Thus, the hopeful pilgrims prepare to leave this plain joyfully, feeling reborn without sin and intending to turn over a new leaf.
Just after sunset, the mass of pilgrims proceeds to Muzdalifah, an open plain about halfway between 'Arafat and Mina. There they first pray and then collect a fixed number of chickpea-sized pebbles to use on the following days.
Before daybreak on the third day, pilgrims move en masse from Muzdalifah to Mina. There they cast at white pillars the pebbles they have previously collected. According to some traditions, this practice is associated with Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH). As pilgrims throw seven pebbles at each of these pillars, they remember the story of Satan's attempt to persuade Ibrahim (PBUH) to disregard God's command to sacrifice his son.
Following the casting of the pebbles, most pilgrims sacrifice a goat, sheep or some other animal. They give the meat to the poor after, in some cases, keeping a small portion for themselves. As the pilgrims have, at this stage, finished a major part of the Hajj, they are now allowed to shed their ihram and put on everyday clothes. On this day Muslims around the world share the happiness the pilgrims feel and join them by performing identical, individual sacrifices in a worldwide celebration of 'Id al-Adha, "the Festival of Sacrifice."
Men either shave their heads or clip their hair, and women cut off a symbolic lock, to mark their partial deconsecration. This is done as a symbol of humility. All proscriptions, save the one of conjugal relations, are now lifted.
Still sojourning in Mina, pilgrims visit Makkah to perform another essential rite of the Hajj: the tawaf, the seven-fold circling of the Ka'bah, with a prayer recited during each circuit. Their circumambulation of the Ka'bah, the symbol of God's oneness, implies that all human activity must have God at its center. It also symbolizes the unity of God and man.
After completing the tawaf, pilgrims pray, preferably at the Station of Ibrahim, the site where Ibrahim (PBUH) stood while he built the Ka'bah. Then they drink of the water of Zamzam.
Another, and sometimes final, rite is the sa'y, or "the running." This is a reenactment of a memorable episode in the life of Hagar (PBUH), who was taken into what the Qur'an calls the "uncultivable valley" of Makkah, with her infant son Ishmael, to settle there.
The sa'y commemorates Hagar's (PBUH) frantic search for water to quench Ishmael's (PBUH) thirst. She ran back and forth seven times between two rocky hillocks, al-Safa and al-Marwah, until she found the sacred water known as Zamzam. This water, which sprang forth miraculously under Ishmael's tiny feet, is now enclosed in a marble chamber the Ka'bah.
These rites performed, the pilgrims are completely deconsecrated: They may resume all normal activities. According to the social customs of some countries, pilgrims can henceforth proudly claim the title of al-Hajj or Hajji.
They now return to Mina, where they stay up to the 12th or 13th day of Zul-Hijjah. There they throw their remaining pebbles at each of the pillars in the manner either practiced or approved by the Prophet (PBUH). They then take leave of the friends they have made during the Hajj. Before leaving Makkah, however, pilgrims usually make a final tawaf round the Ka'bah to bid farewell to the Holy City.
[paraphrased from an article by Ni'mah Isma'il Nawwab]
|Mina.- two million
Muslims gather annually for the Hajj, many staying in tented accommodations at certain
stages of the pilgrimage (2).
|Pilgrims gather on the plain of 'Arafat at the Mount of Mercy, where the Prophet (PBUH) delivered his Farewell Sermon (2).|
|A pillar marks the Mount of Mercy the rocky hill rising from the plain of Arafat.|
|Waqfa - pilgrims dressed in 'ihram', a garment made of two seamless white sheets or towels symbolising purity and equality, perform the ritual of waqfa (standing before Allah) at the Mount of Mercy (1).|
|Hajjis spend one night camped at Muzdalifah between Arafat and Mina.|
|Bus en route from Muzdalifa at break of dawn (1)|
|Crowds at the small town of Mina cast pebbles at pillars that symbolise evil|
|The Ka'bah and Masjid Al Haram at the end of the 19th century - the buildings next to the Ka'bah have since been demolished leaving plenty of room for the tawaf..|
|The Ka'bah and Masjid Al Haram in modern times (1).|
|Tawaf - pilgrims walk seven times around the Ka'bah in a conterclockwise direction, starting at the southeastern corner of the Ka'bah.|
|The elderly and infirm are carried around the Ka'bah (1)|
||The Black Stone - embedded in the southeastern corner of the Ka'bah. It is believed to be a remnant of the original structure built by Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ishmael (PBUT).The stone is kissed by some during Hajj but it carries no devotional significance.|
|The Station of Ibrahim - the site where Ibrahim (PBUH) stood while he built the Ka'bah|
|The sa'y (or "running") commemorates Hagar's (PBUH) search for water to quench Ishmael's (PBUH) thirst. She ran back and forth seven times between two rocky hillocks, al-Safa and al-Marwah and found the sacred water known as Zamzam. The area has been developed into a covered portico and even has narrow passageways set aside for those in wheelchairs.|
|Zamzam - this water, which sprang forth miraculously under Ishmael's (PBUH) tiny feet, is now enclosed in a marble chamber in the Ka'bah.|
|Towards the end of the Hajj the sacrifice of an animal such a sheep, goat or camel takes place. This festival of sacrifice (Eid ul-Adha) commerates Prophet Ibrahim's (PBUH) willingness to sacrifice his son for God. Here camels are herded for the modern day sacrifice (1).|
|A dish of baby camel meat, roasted whole, served during the feasts at the end of Hajj (1).|
Hajj - the pilgrimage to Mecca to Al-Haram, regarded in Islam as the fifth pillar of faith. Takes place in the twelfth month of the Muslim lunar calendar, therefore this month and has been called "Dhul-Hijjah. According to the teachings of Islam, the hajj must do at least once in their lifetime by every Muslim who is able to do it .. If the person reasonable grounds can not himself make the pilgrimage, he is entitled to his place of another person, called a "Vakil al-Hajj, paying him all necessary expenses (but that person may be the only one who has previously performed the Hajj).