6 Must-Know Facts About Hajj

6 Must-Know Facts About Hajj

Each year, millions of Muslims congregate in Makkah, the holiest city in Islam. This annual pilgrimage is called Hajj – the oldest and most sacred ritual in Islam. It is a significant culminating spiritual experience for all Muslims.

Hajj, also known as the great Makkah pilgrimage, is performed during a specific period of time in the Islamic lunar calendar which begins on the 8th day of Dhu al-Hijah and the 12th day. Every year, the dates vary depending on the sighting of the moon. But regardless of the date, a lot of Muslims from various parts of the world gather in Makkah to take part in and complete this holy ritual.

If you have always been curious about this large annual gathering, here are six important and interesting facts you should know about this holy pilgrimage:

  • Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam

The five pillars of Islam are:

  • Shahada or Faith. This is a declaration of faith and belief that there is only one God.

  • Salah or Prayer. This pertains to the practice of praying five times a day.

  • Zakat or Charity. This refers to the practice of charitable acts or almsgiving based on the follower’s amassed wealth.

  • Sawm or Fasting. This includes ritual fasting, ascetic fasting, and fasting during Ramadan.

  • Hajj or Pilgrimage to Makkah. This is the sacred duty of all Muslims who are physically and financially capable of going on the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.

  • There are three types of Islamic pilgrimages

Pilgrims have three options to achieve Ihram for Hajj. These are:

  • Ifrad, where the pilgrim enters Ihram (the sacred state) and wears the right clothing for worship (also known as “ihram”) for Hajj and then takes it off after finishing.

  • Tamattu, where the pilgrim enters Ihram for Umrah. He or she then goes out of Ihram when the rituals of Umrah are completed. The pilgrim then enters into Ihram again for Hajj.

  • Qiran, where the pilgrim enters Ihram for both Hajj and Umrah and remains in that state until he or she completes the rituals for both.

  • Hajj, in the past, was a daunting journey of a lifetime

In the olden days, Hajj was considered the journey of a lifetime. This is because early Muslims had to literally spend a lifetime to save enough money to go on this pilgrimage.   

Going to Makkah for Hajj was not as easy and safe as well. Decades ago, pilgrims had to ride a horse or travel by foot through mountain terrains and deserts for months to reach the holy city. Robbers would also often attack the pilgrims to steal the latter’s money and other valuable possessions.

  • Pilgrims have to follow a dress code

During Hajj, both men and women dress in white which symbolizes the state of purity they are entering. When pilgrims change their clothes, they begin the process of entering Ihram or the sacred state.

Additionally, men are not allowed to wear any sewn garments and women cannot cover their faces. Pilgrims must also refrain from wearing perfumes and using scented soaps.

  • All pilgrims have to perform Tawaf

Tawaf, which literally means “to go about”, is one of the most important rituals pilgrims have to complete during Hajj.

Pilgrims have to walk around the Kaaba seven times in a counterclockwise direction. They have to walk the first three circuits at a fast pace while on the outer part of the crowd. They will then have to move closer to the Kaaba and walk four more times at a more leisurely pace in the same direction.

When pilgrims perform this ritual, they demonstrate their unity in worshipping Allah.

  • Pilgrims need a Hajj visa to enter Makkah

Lastly, Muslims who do not live in or are not citizens of Saudi Arabia have to obtain a Hajj visa to undertake the pilgrimage.

Hajj visas are free and visitors who have one can enter Jeddah, Madinah, and Makkah. Pilgrims can apply for this visa at the Saudi Arabian consulate in their country.

Visitors who have this visa, however, have to leave Saudi after they complete the Hajj.

All Muslims will also do well to know these facts if they are not aware of them yet. Devotees can consider these facts as a guide when planning for their Hajj and with choosing their Makkah accommodation.

AUTHOR BIO

Mohammed Ghanem is the General Manager of Shaza Hotel in the Makkah Governorate in Saudi Arabia. The newly opened 5-star Shaza Makkah is an intimate cocoon of serenity and contemplation to compose oneself for all that life’s greatest journey would require.

Categories: Travel

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