Hajj
Overview
The Hajj is the pilgrimage
Pilgrimage
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith...

 to Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam
Five Pillars of Islam
The Pillars of Islam are basic concepts and duties for accepting the religion for the Muslims.The Shi'i and Sunni both agree on the essential details for the performance of these acts, but the Shi'a do not refer to them by the same name .-Pillars of Shia:According to Shia Islam, the...

, a religious duty
Fard
also is an Islamic term which denotes a religious duty. The word is also used in Persian, Turkish, and Urdu in the same meaning....

 that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 who can afford to do so. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God
God in Islam
In Islamic theology, God is the all-powerful and all-knowing creator, sustainer, ordainer, and judge of the universe. Islam puts a heavy emphasis on the conceptualization of God as strictly singular . God is unique and inherently One , all-merciful and omnipotent. According to the Islamic...

 (Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

 in the Arabic language).

The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah
Dhu al-Hijjah
Dhu al-Ḥijjah is the twelfth and final month in the Islamic calendar.This is a very sacred month in the Islamic calendar, marking the end of the year. It is in this month in which the Hajj takes place....

, the 12th and last month of the Islamic calendar
Islamic calendar
The Hijri calendar , also known as the Muslim calendar or Islamic calendar , is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days. It is used to date events in many Muslim countries , and used by Muslims everywhere to determine the proper day on which to celebrate Islamic...

.
Encyclopedia
The Hajj is the pilgrimage
Pilgrimage
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith...

 to Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam
Five Pillars of Islam
The Pillars of Islam are basic concepts and duties for accepting the religion for the Muslims.The Shi'i and Sunni both agree on the essential details for the performance of these acts, but the Shi'a do not refer to them by the same name .-Pillars of Shia:According to Shia Islam, the...

, a religious duty
Fard
also is an Islamic term which denotes a religious duty. The word is also used in Persian, Turkish, and Urdu in the same meaning....

 that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 who can afford to do so. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God
God in Islam
In Islamic theology, God is the all-powerful and all-knowing creator, sustainer, ordainer, and judge of the universe. Islam puts a heavy emphasis on the conceptualization of God as strictly singular . God is unique and inherently One , all-merciful and omnipotent. According to the Islamic...

 (Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

 in the Arabic language).

The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah
Dhu al-Hijjah
Dhu al-Ḥijjah is the twelfth and final month in the Islamic calendar.This is a very sacred month in the Islamic calendar, marking the end of the year. It is in this month in which the Hajj takes place....

, the 12th and last month of the Islamic calendar
Islamic calendar
The Hijri calendar , also known as the Muslim calendar or Islamic calendar , is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days. It is used to date events in many Muslim countries , and used by Muslims everywhere to determine the proper day on which to celebrate Islamic...

. Because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar
Lunar calendar
A lunar calendar is a calendar that is based on cycles of the lunar phase. A common purely lunar calendar is the Islamic calendar or Hijri calendar. A feature of the Islamic calendar is that a year is always 12 months, so the months are not linked with the seasons and drift each solar year by 11 to...

, eleven days shorter than the Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

 used in the Western world, the Gregorian date of the Hajj changes from year to year. Ihram is the name given to the special spiritual state in which Muslims live while on the pilgrimage.

The Hajj is associated with the life of Islamic prophet
Prophets of Islam
Muslims identify the Prophets of Islam as those humans chosen by God and given revelation to deliver to mankind. Muslims believe that every prophet was given a belief to worship God and their respective followers believed it as well...

 Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time of Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

 (Ibrahim). Pilgrims join processions of hundreds of thousands of people, who simultaneously converge on Mecca for the week of the Hajj, and perform a series of rituals: Each person walks counter-clockwise seven times around the Kaaba
Kaaba
The Kaaba is a cuboid-shaped building in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and is the most sacred site in Islam. The Qur'an states that the Kaaba was constructed by Abraham, or Ibraheem, in Arabic, and his son Ishmael, or Ismaeel, as said in Arabic, after he had settled in Arabia. The building has a mosque...

, the cube-shaped building which acts as the Muslim direction of prayer
Qibla
The Qiblah , also transliterated as Qibla, Kiblah or Kibla, is the direction that should be faced when a Muslim prays during salah...

, runs back and forth between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah
Al-Safa and Al-Marwah
Al-Safa and Al-Marwah are two small mountains now located in the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia between which Muslims travel back and forth seven times during the ritual pilgrimages of Hajj and Umrah.-History:...

, drinks from the Zamzam Well
Zamzam Well
The Well of Zamzam is a well located within the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, east of the Kaaba, the holiest place in Islam...

, goes to the plains of Mount Arafat
Mount Arafat
Mount Arafat or Mount Arafah is a granite hill east of Mecca. It is also known as the Mount of Mercy . The hill is the place Muslims believe the Islamic prophet Muhammad stood and delivered the Farewell Sermon to the Muslims who had accompanied him for the Hajj towards the end of his life...

 to stand in vigil, and throws stones in a ritual Stoning of the Devil
Stoning of the Devil
Stoning of the Devil or stoning of the jamarat is part of the annual Islamic Hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Muslim pilgrims fling pebbles at three walls called jamarat in the city of Mina just east of Mecca. It is one of a series of ritual acts that must be performed in...

. The pilgrims then shave their heads, perform a ritual of animal sacrifice, and celebrate the three day global festival of Eid al-Adha.

History

The Hajj is based on a pilgrimage that was ancient even in the time of Muhammad in the 7th Century. According to Hadith
Hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

, elements of the Hajj trace back to the time of Abraham (Ibrahim), around 2000 BCE. Abraham's wife, Sarah, was unable to conceive, and upon her request, Abraham had taken their female servant, Hagar, as a second wife. Hagar bore Abraham a son, Ishmael. It is believed that Abraham was ordered by God to leave Hagar
Hagar (Bible)
Hagar , according to the Abrahamic faiths, was the second wife of Abraham, and the mother of his first son, Ishmael. Her story is recorded in the Book of Genesis, mentioned in Hadith, and alluded to in the Qur'an...

 (Hājar) and Ishmael
Ishmael
Ishmael is a figure in the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, and was Abraham's first born child according to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Ishmael was born of Abraham's marriage to Sarah's handmaiden Hagar...

 (ʼIsmāʻīl) alone in the desert. Looking for shelter, food and water, Hagar ran back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwa seven times with her son. In desperation, she laid the baby on the sand and begged for God's assistance. The baby cried and hit the ground with his heel (some versions of the story say that the angel
Angel
Angels are mythical beings often depicted as messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles along with the Quran. The English word angel is derived from the Greek ἄγγελος, a translation of in the Hebrew Bible ; a similar term, ملائكة , is used in the Qur'an...

 Gabriel
Gabriel
In Abrahamic religions, Gabriel is an Archangel who typically serves as a messenger to humans from God.He first appears in the Book of Daniel, delivering explanations of Daniel's visions. In the Gospel of Luke Gabriel foretells the births of both John the Baptist and of Jesus...

 (Jibral
Holy Spirit (Islam)
The Holy Spirit in Islam is mentioned several times in the Quran, and is interpreted by many muslims as referring to the angel Gabriel.-The Holy Spirit, al-Ruh al-Quds, in the Quran:...

) scraped his foot or the tip of his wing along the ground), and the Zamzam Well miraculously sprang forth.

Prior to Muhammad's era, each year tribes from all around the Arabian Peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

 would converge on Mecca, as part of the pilgrimage. The exact faith of the tribes was not important at that time, and Christian Arabs were as likely to make the pilgrimage as the pagans
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

. Muslim historians refer to the time before Muhammad as jahiliyyah
Jahiliyyah
Jahiliyyah is an Islamic concept of "ignorance of divine guidance" or "the state of ignorance of the guidance from God" or "Days of Ignorance" referring to the condition in which Arabs found themselves in pre-Islamic Arabia, i.e. prior to the revelation of the Qur'an to Muhammad...

, the "Days of Ignorance", during which the Kaaba contained hundreds of idols – totems of each of the tribes of the Arabian Peninsula
Tribes of Arabia
Tribes of Arabia refers to Arab clans hailing from the Arabian Peninsula.Much of the lineage provided before Ma'ad relies on biblical genealogy and therefore questions persist concerning the accuracy of this segment of Arab genealogy...

, with idols of pagan gods
Arabian mythology
Arabian mythology comprises the ancient, pre-Islamic beliefs of the Arabs. Prior to Islam the Kaaba of Mecca was covered in symbols representing the myriad demons, djinn, demigods, or simply tribal gods and other assorted deities which represented the polytheistic culture of pre-Islamic Arabia...

 such as Hubal
Hubal
Hubal was a god worshipped in pre-Islamic Arabia, notably at the Kaaba in Mecca.-Hubal in Mecca:Hubal most prominently appears at Mecca, where an image of his was worshipped at the Kaaba. According to Karen Armstrong, the sanctuary was dedicated to Hubal, who was worshipped as the greatest of the...

, al-Lat
Allat
' or ' was a Pre-Islamic Arabian goddess who was one of the three chief goddesses of Mecca. She is mentioned in the Qur'an , which indicates that pre-Islamic Arabs considered her as one of the daughters of Allah along with Manāt and al-‘Uzzá....

, Al-‘Uzzá and Manat
Manat
Manat may refer to* Azerbaijani manat, unit of currency in Azerbaijan* Turkmenistani manat, unit of currency in Turkmenistan* The designation of the Soviet ruble in both Azerbaijani and Turkmen* Manāt, the goddess of fate and destiny in pre-Islamic Arabia...

.

Muhammad was known to regularly perform the Umrah, even before he began receiving revelation. Historically, Muslims would gather at various meeting points in other great cities, and then proceed en masse towards Mecca, in groups that could comprise tens of thousands of pilgrims. Two of the most famous meeting points were in Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

 and Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

. In Cairo, the Sultan
Sultan
Sultan is a title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة , meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who...

 would stand atop a platform of the famous gate Bab Zuwayla, to officially watch the beginning of the annual pilgrimage.

In 631 CE, Muhammad led his followers from Medina
Medina
Medina , or ; also transliterated as Madinah, or madinat al-nabi "the city of the prophet") is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, and serves as the capital of the Al Madinah Province. It is the second holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and...

 to Mecca, it was the first Hajj to be performed by Muslims alone, and the only Hajj ever performed by Muhammad. He cleansed the Kaaba, destroyed all the idols, and re-ordained the building as the house of God. It was from this point that the Hajj became one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

Performing Hajj was a hazardous journey for early pilgrims; Ibn Jubayr
Ibn Jubayr
Ibn Jubayr was a geographer, traveler and poet from al-Andalus.-Early life:Born in Valencia in Spain, then the seat of an independent emirate. Ibn Jubayr was descendant of a tribe of Andalusian origins, Jubayr was the son of a civil servant...

 noted the skeletons of pilgrims who had died of thirst during the journey. In the seventeenth century a group of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

ian pilgrims lost over 1,500 people and 900 camels. In 1924 around one-fifth of a group of Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

n pilgrims died and two years later 12,000 are thought to have died during the journey.

Preparations

Pilgrims generally travel to Hajj in groups, as an expression of unity. Some airlines have special packages for Muslims going to Mecca such as the Haj subsidy
Haj subsidy
The Haj subsidy is an airfare subsidy given to Indian Muslim Hajj pilgrims. Pilgrims applying through the Haj Committee of India are offered the concessionary fare. The Government of India pays the subsidy to Air India.-Cost:...

 offered in India. Ships also take pilgrims to Mecca so they can perform Hajj.

During the Hajj, male pilgrims are required to dress only in the ihram, a garment consisting of two sheets of white unhemmed cloth, with the top draped over the torso and the bottom secured by a white sash; plus a pair of sandals. Women are simply required to maintain their hijab - normal modest dress, which does not cover the hands or face.

The Ihram is meant to show equality of all pilgrims, in front of God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

: there is no difference between a prince and a pauper. Ihram is also symbolic for holy virtue and pardon from all past sins. A place designated for changing into Ihram is called a miqat
Miqat
Mīqāt are the stations at which pilgrims on the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca required of all able Muslims, put on ihrām, the pilgrim's garment. Five of these stations were set up by Muhammad, a sixth being added later for the convenience of travellers from India and points further east...

( like Zu 'l-Hulafa, Juhfa, Qarnu 'l-Manāzil, Yalamlam
Yalamlam
Yalamlam is a city in the Mecca Province of Saudi Arabia in the Yalamlam Valley. It situated 125 km South East of Mecca and 125 km East of Saudi Aramco Jeddah Refinery....

, Zāt-i-'Irq, Ibrahīm Mursīa)

While wearing the Ihram, a pilgrim may not shave, clip their nails, wear perfume, swear or quarrel, have sexual relations, uproot or damage plants, cover the head [for men] or the face and hands [for women], marry, wear shoes over the ankles, perform any dishonest acts or carry weapons.

Rites

Upon arrival in Mecca the pilgrim, now known as a Hajji
Hajji
Hajji or El-Hajj, is an honorific title given to a Muslim person who has successfully completed the Hajj to Mecca, and is often used to refer to an elder, since it can take time to accumulate the wealth to fund the travel. The title is placed before a person's name...

, performs a series of ritual acts symbolic of the lives of Ibrahim (or Abraham in English) and his wife Hajra (or Hagar in English). The acts also symbolize the solidarity of Muslims worldwide.

The greater Hajj (al-hajj al-akbar) begins on the eighth day of the lunar month of Dhu al-Hijjah. If they are not already wearing it upon their arrival, pilgrims put on ihram clothing and then leave Mecca for the nearby town of Mina
Mina, Saudi Arabia
Mina is a location situated some 5 kilometres to the east of the Islamic holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It stands on the road from Mecca's city centre to the Hill of Arafat....

 where they spend the rest of the day. The Saudi government has put up thousands of large white tents at Mina to provide accommodations for all the pilgrims.

Tawaf

On the first day of the Hajj (the 7th day of the 12th month in other words, Dhu al-Hijjah), the pilgrims perform their first Tawaf
Tawaf
Tawaf is one of the Islamic rituals of pilgrimage. During the Hajj and Umrah, Muslims are to circumambulate the Kaaba seven times, in a counterclockwise direction...

, which involves all of the pilgrims visiting the Kabah and walking seven times counter-clockwise around the Kaaba. They may also kiss the Black Stone (Al Hajar Al Aswad) on each circuit. If kissing the stone is not possible because of the crowds, they may simply point towards the Stone on each circuit with their right hand. In each complete circuit a pilgrim says "In the name of God, God is Great, God is Great, God is Great and praise be to God" (Bism Allah Allahu Akbar
Takbir
The Takbīr or Tekbir is the Arabic term for the phrase ' . It is usually translated "God is [the] Greatest," or "God is Great". It is a common Islamic Arabic expression...

, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar wa lil Lahi Alhamd) with 7 circuits constituting a complete tawaf. The place where pilgrims walk is known as "Mutaaf". Only the first three shouts are compulsory, but almost all perform it seven times.

The tawaf is normally performed all at once. Eating is not permitted but the drinking of water is allowed because of the risk of dehydration. Men are encouraged to perform the first three circuits at a hurried pace, followed by four times, more closely, at a leisurely pace.

After the completion of Tawaf, all the pilgrims have to offer two Rakaat
Raka'ah
Rakaʿah are the prescribed movements and words followed by Muslims during salah .After turning to God in mind and ritual cleansing , the worshipper will stand quietly while reciting the first verses of the Qur'an. The second part of the rak'ah involves bowing low with hands on knees, as if...

 prayers at the Place of Abraham (Muqaam Ibrahim), a site inside the mosque that is near the Kaaba. However, again because of large crowds during the days of Hajj, they may instead pray anywhere in the mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

.

Although the circuits around the Kaaba are traditionally done on the ground level, Tawaf is now also performed on the first floor and roof of the mosque because of the large crowd.

After Tawaf on the same day, the pilgrims perform sa`i, running or walking seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwah. This is a re-enactment of the frantic search for water for her son Ishmael by Abraham's wife's servant Hajar. As she searched, the Zamzam Well was revealed to her by an angel, who hit the ground with his heel (or brushed the ground with the tip of his wing), upon which the water of the Zamzam started gushing from the ground. The back and forth circuit of the pilgrims used to be in the open air, but is now entirely enclosed by the Masjid al-Haram
Masjid al-Haram
Al-Masjid al-Ḥarām is the largest mosque in the world. Located in the city of Mecca, it surrounds the Kaaba, the place which Muslims worldwide turn towards while performing daily prayers and is Islam's holiest place...

 mosque, and can be accessed via air-conditioned tunnels. Pilgrims are advised to walk the circuit, though two green pillars mark a short section of the path where they are allowed to run. There is also an internal "express lane" for the disabled. The safety procedures are in place because previous incidents in this ritual have resulted in stampedes which caused the deaths of hundreds of people.

As part of this ritual the pilgrims also drink water from the Zamzam Well, which is made available in coolers throughout the Mosque. After the visit to the mosque on this day of the Hajj, the pilgrims then return to their tents.

Arafat

The next morning, on the eighth of Dhu al-Hijjah, the pilgrims proceed to Mina where they spend the night in prayer.

On the ninth day, they leave Mina for Mt. Arafat where they stand in contemplative vigil and pray and recite the Qur'an, near a hill from which Prophet
Prophets of Islam
Muslims identify the Prophets of Islam as those humans chosen by God and given revelation to deliver to mankind. Muslims believe that every prophet was given a belief to worship God and their respective followers believed it as well...

 Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 gave his last sermon, this hill is called Jabal Al Rahmah (The Hill of Forgiveness, Mount Arafat). This is known as Wuquf, considered the highlight of the Hajj. Pilgrims must spend the afternoon within a defined area on the plain of Arafat until after sunset. No specific rituals or prayers are required during the stay at Arafat, although many pilgrims spend time praying, and thinking about the course of their lives. A pilgrim's Hajj is considered invalid if they do not spend the afternoon on Arafat.

Muzdalifah

As soon as the sun sets, the pilgrims leave Arafat for Muzdalifah
Muzdalifah
Muzdalifah is an open, level area near Mecca in Saudi Arabia associated with the Hajj. It lies just southeast of Mina on the route between Mina and Arafat. Each year on the 9th day of the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah, after an afternoon of prayer at Arafat , Muslim pilgrims visit Muzdalifah in...

, an area between Arafat and Mina. Pilgrims spend the night sleeping on the ground with open sky, and in the morning they gather pebbles for the next day's ritual of the stoning of the Devil
Devil
The Devil is believed in many religions and cultures to be a powerful, supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of God and humankind. The nature of the role varies greatly...

 (Shaitan
Devil (Islam)
In Islam, the Devil is known as or . According to the Qurʾān, God created Iblis out of "smokeless fire or from the pure flame of fire" and created man out of clay...

) after returning to Mina.

Ramy al-Jamarat


At Mina the pilgrims perform Ramy al-Jamarat, throwing stones to signify their defiance of the Devil. This symbolizes the trials experienced by Abraham while he was going to sacrifice his son as demanded by Allah. The Devil challenged him three times, and three times Abraham refused. Each pillar marks the location of one of these refusals. On the first occasion when Ramy al-Jamarat is performed, pilgrims stone the largest pillar known as Jamrat'al'Aqabah. Pilgrims climb ramps to the multi-levelled Jamaraat Bridge, from which they can throw their pebbles at the jamarat. On the second occasion, the other pillars are stoned. The stoning consists of throwing seven pebbles. Because of the crowds, in 2004 the pillars were replaced by long walls, with catch basins below to collect the pebbles.

Eid al-Adha

After the Stoning of the Devil, the pilgrims perform animal sacrifices, to symbolize God having mercy on Abraham and replacing his son with a ram, which Abraham then sacrificed. Traditionally the pilgrims slaughtered the animal themselves, or oversaw the slaughtering. Today many pilgrims buy a sacrifice voucher in Makkah before the greater Hajj begins, which allows an animal to be slaughtered in their name on the 10th, without the pilgrim being physically present. Centralized butchers sacrifice a single sheep for each pilgrim, or a cow can represent the sacrifice of seven people. The meat is then packaged and given to charity and shipped to poor people around the world. At the same time as the sacrifices occur at Mecca, Muslims worldwide perform similar sacrifices, in a three day global festival called Eid al-Azha.

Tawaf az-Ziyarah

On this or the following day the pilgrims re-visit the Masjid al-Haram mosque in Mecca for another tawaf, to walk around the Kaaba. This is called the Tawaf az-Ziyarah or Tawaf al-Ifadah, which symbolizes being in a hurry to respond to God and show love for Him, an obligatory part of the Hajj. The night of the 10th is spent back at Mina.

On the afternoon of the 11th and again the following day the pilgrims must again throw seven pebbles at each of the three jamarat in Mina.

Pilgrims must leave Mina for Mecca before sunset on the 12th. If they are unable to leave Mina before sunset, they must perform the stoning ritual again on the 13th before returning to Mecca.

Tawaf al-Wida

Finally, before leaving Mecca, pilgrims perform a farewell tawaf called the Tawaf al-Wida. 'Wida' means 'to bid farewell'.

Journey to Medina

Some pilgrims choose to travel to the city of Medina and the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi
Al-Masjid al-Nabawi
Al-Masjid al-Nabawi , often called the Prophet's Mosque, is a mosque situated in the city of Medina. As the final resting place of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, it is considered the second holiest site in Islam by Muslims and is one of the largest mosques in the world...

 (Mosque of the Prophet), which contains Prophet Muhammad's tomb and Riad ul Jannah and also pay visit to the grave of Prophet Muhammad companion
Sahabah
In Islam, the ' were the companions, disciples, scribes and family of the Islamic prophet...

, Umhat ul Mominen and Ahl al-Bayt
Ahl al-Bayt
Ahl al-Bayt is an Arabic phrase literally meaning People of the House, or family of the House. The phrase "ahl al-bayt" was used in Arabia before the advent of Islam to refer to one's clan, and would be adopted by the ruling family of a tribe. Within the Islamic tradition, the term refers to the...

 in Al-Baqi'
Al-Baqi'
Maqbaratu l-Baqī is a cemetery in Medina, Saudi Arabia, located to the southeast of the Masjid al-Nabawi. The mosque is built where the Islamic prophet Muhammad used to live, built a mosque and is currently buried. The cemetery therefore holds much significance. It contains many of Muhammad's ...

. The Quba Mosque
Quba Mosque
The Quba Mosque in the outlying environs of Medina in Saudi Arabia, is the oldest mosque in the world. Its first stones were positioned by the Islamic prophet Muhammad on his emigration from the city of Mecca to Medina and the mosque was completed by his companions...

 and Masjid al-Qiblatain
Masjid al-Qiblatain
Masjid al-Qiblatain is a mosque in Medina that is historically important for Muslims as the place where the Islamic prophet Muhammad, leading the prayer, is said to have been commanded to change the direction of prayer from Jerusalem to Mecca. Thus it uniquely contained two prayer niches...

 are also usually visited.

Umrah

Umrah can be performed any time of year. it is optional for Muslims to do unlike regular hajj which is mandatory. It does not contain as many steps as hajj. For Umrah preparation/Ihram is to be done. Tawaaf and Sai is to be completed as described above. Hair cutting as per norms is last step.

Attempts at suggesting significance

Attempts have been made to establish a connection between the act of tawaf and orbiting motions of heavenly bodies. It has been proposed, for example, that the act of tawaf closely resembles the shape of a galaxy when viewed from above (Muhammad Eusha, "Scientific Significance of Circling the Kaba", The Daily Sun, 11 February). But this view has not been verified by qualified ulama
Ulama
-In Islam:* Ulema, also transliterated "ulama", a community of legal scholars of Islam and its laws . See:**Nahdlatul Ulama **Darul-uloom Nadwatul Ulama **Jamiatul Ulama Transvaal**Jamiat ul-Ulama -Other:...

.

Modern crowd-control issues

As of 2010, about three million pilgrims participate in this annual pilgrimage. Crowd-control techniques have become critical, and because of the large numbers of people, many of the rituals have become more stylized. It is not necessary to kiss the Black Stone
Black Stone
The Black Stone is the eastern cornerstone of the Kaaba, the ancient stone building towards which Muslims pray, in the center of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is revered by Muslims as an Islamic relic, which according to Muslim tradition dates back to the time of Adam and Eve.The...

, but merely to point at it on each circuit around the Kaaba. Throwing pebbles was done at large pillars, which for safety reasons in 2004 were changed to long walls with catch basins below to catch the stones. The slaughter of an animal can be done either personally, or by appointing someone else to do it, and so forth. But even with the crowd control techniques, there are still many incidents during the Hajj
Incidents during the Hajj
There have been many serious incidents during the Hajj that in total have caused the loss of thousands of lives. Every follower of Islam is requested to visit Mecca during the Hajj at least once in his or her lifetime, but only if they can afford or able to do so...

, as pilgrims are trampled in a crush, or ramps collapse under the weight of the many visitors, causing hundreds of deaths. Pilgrims can also go to Mecca to perform the rituals at other times of the year. This is sometimes called the "lesser pilgrimage", or Umrah
Umrah
The Umrah or is a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, performed by Muslims that can be undertaken at any time of the year. In Arabic, Umrah means "to visit a populated place"...

. However, even if one chooses to perform the Umrah, they are still obligated to perform the Hajj at some other point in their lifetime if they have the means to do so.

Social effect of Hajj

Malcolm X
Malcolm X
Malcolm X , born Malcolm Little and also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz , was an African American Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of African Americans, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its...

, an American human rights activist, describes the sociological atmosphere he experienced at Hajj as follows,"There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and the non-white. America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought patterns previously held."

Due to lack of communication between more than three million pilgrims from all over the globe and the immensity of the gathering itself, there have been many incidents during the Hajj that have led to the loss of hundreds of lives. The worst of these incidents have usually occurred during the Stoning of the Devil ritual. During the 2006 Hajj on 12 January, 362 pilgrims died. Tramplings have also occurred when pilgrims try to run between the two hills known as Al-Safa and Al-Marwa. In 2006 there were some 600 casualties
Casualty (person)
A casualty is a person who is the victim of an accident, injury, or trauma. The word casualties is most often used by the news media to describe deaths and injuries resulting from wars or disasters...

 among pilgrims performing the Hajj. After these events, the Saudi government made improvements for pilgrims such as providing separate pathways for travelling to and from Al-Safa and Al-Marwa.

A 2008 study on the longer-term effect of participating in the Islamic pilgrimage found that Muslims' communities become more open after the Hajj experience. Entitled Estimating the Impact of the Hajj: Religion and Tolerance in Islam’s Global Gathering, a study conducted in conjunction with Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

's John F. Kennedy School of Government
John F. Kennedy School of Government
The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University is a public policy and public administration school, and one of Harvard's graduate and professional schools...

 found that the Hajj experience promotes peaceful coexistence, equality, and harmony. Specifically, the report states that the Hajj "increases belief in equality and harmony among ethnic groups and Islamic community and that "Hajjis (those who have performed the Hajj) show increased belief in peace, and in equality and harmony among adherents of different religions"

Number of foreign pilgrims by year

According to the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, the following number of foreign pilgrims arrived in Saudi Arabia each year, to perform the Hajj:
  • 1920 - 58,584
  • 1921 - 57,255
  • 1922 - 56,319

  • 1996 - 1,080,465
  • 1997 - 1,168,591
  • 1998 - 1,132,344
  • 2001 - 1,363,992
  • 2005 - 1,534,759
  • 2006 - 1,654,407
  • 2007 - 1,707,814
  • 2008 - 1,729,841
  • 2009 - 1,613,000
  • 2010 - 1,799,601
  • 2011 - 1,828,195

See also

  • Glossary of Islam
  • List of largest peaceful gatherings in history
  • Tourism in Saudi Arabia
    Tourism in Saudi Arabia
    The mountains, valleys and Red Sea beaches with turquoise water are known for some of the world's finest diving and attract some, but comparatively few, tourists. Some other spots are hard to reach, such as the Nabatean ruins, a four-hour drive from Medina, the nearest city with an airport for...

  • Le Grand Voyage
    Le Grand Voyage
    Le Grand Voyage is a 2004 film written and directed by Ismaël Ferroukhi. The film portrays the relationship between father and son as both embark on a religious pilgrimage trip by car. It was shown at the 2004 Toronto and Venice International Film Festivals.-Plot:Réda is a French-Moroccan...

  • Journey to Mecca
    Journey to Mecca (2009 film)
    Journey to Mecca: In the Footsteps of Ibn Battuta is an award-winning IMAX dramatised documentary film charting the first real-life journey made by the Islamic scholar Ibn Battuta from his native Morocco to Mecca for the Hajj , in 1325.-Background:The 20 year old Muslim religious law student Ibn...

  • Saudi Red Crescent Authority
    Saudi Red Crescent Authority
    SRCA provides emergency medical services in five administrative regions of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was founded in 1963. By 2009, the Society had 447 First Aid Centers, run by 5,507 staff, with 1300 ambulances which are distributed in all hospitals and centres around the country...


External links

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