Hajj

What is hajj ?

              

It is one of the five core pillars of Islam, and it is a religious duty to be fulfilled at least once in its lifetime, the duty of every Muslim, whether a woman or a man. Muslim from around the world are converging on Mecca ,Saudi Arabia, to fullfill the last of the five pillars of Islam.  Millions embark on this five day spiritual journey annualy, making it one of the largest gatherings in the world. Unlike mosque gathering where women and men are separated.both genders stand side by side at the grand mosque. Physically and financially capable muslims must perform hajj once during their lifetime. Pilgrims retrace and re-enact the experiences and rituals of the prophets during the five days of hajj. Mecca is the holiest city in islam because its believed to be the birth place of the prophet Mohammed and the site of his first revelation of the Quraan. That's why muslims pray At the direction of the kaaba. When the pilgrim is about 6 miles (10 km) from Mecca, he or she enters the state of holiness and purity known as ihram and dons the ihram garments;  for men they consist of two white seamless sheets that are wrapped around the body, while women may wear sewn clothes.  The pilgrims cut neither their hair nor their nails until the pilgrimage rite is over.  They enter Mecca and walk seven times around the sacred shrine called the Kaʿbah, in the Great Mosque, kiss or touch the Black Stone (al-Ḥajar al-Aswad) in the Kaʿbah, pray twice in the direction of the Maqām Ibrāhīm and the Kaʿbah  , and run seven times between the minor prominences of Mount Ṣafā and Mount Marwah.  On the 7th day of Dhū al-Ḥijjah the pilgrims are reminded of their duties.  At the second stage of the ritual, which takes place between the 8th and the 12th days of the month, the pilgrim visits the holy places outside Mecca — Jabal al-Raḥmah, Muzdalifah, and Minā — and sacrifices an animal in commemoration of Abraham's sacrifice. Male pilgrims' heads are then usually shaved, and female pilgrims remove a lock of hair.  After throwing seven stones at each of the three pillars at Minā on three successive days (the pillars exemplify various devils), the pilgrim returns to Mecca to perform the farewell ṭawāf, or circling, of the Kaʿbah before leaving the city.

Seven steps of hajj

1- Circulating the Kaaba Seven Times-          Wearing Ihram is the first step to undergo Hajj at one of five Miqats and then perform Tawaaf in Makkah.  This is followed on 8th Dhul-Hijjah by pilgrims before heading to Mina.At the tent-city of Mina, pilgrims usually spend the day and then stay there until the next morning. Pilgrims perform five prayers in Mina, starting with noon prayer and ending with the dawn.

2- Pray All Day on Mount Arafat-  Pilgrims reach Arafah on 9th Dhul-Hijjah.  Day of Arafat is the most important day.  Pilgrims pray the most on this day to commemorate Prophet Muhammad's final sermon.  From the afternoon, they perform Wuquf at Arafah.

3- Stay Overnight in Muzdalifah- When the sun is about to set, pilgrims leave for Muzdalifah.  This is a place where pilgrims collect pebbles to later stoning of the devil and spend the night under the sky.  At dawn, they offer Fajr prayers and leave again for Mina before the sunrise.

4- Stoning of the devil-  On the 10th Dhul-Hijjah, pilgrims throw stones at the pillars.  This is probably the longest day of the pilgrimage.  On pilgrims go back to Mina, they perform first rami, throwing seven pebbles at the columns known as Jamaraat.  It dates back to the history that at this spot in Mina, the devil tried to discourage Prophet Ibrahim from heeding the command.He then threw small pebbles to make him go away.  After stoning, a sacrifice of an animal is recommended.  Pilgrims then leave the state of Ihram and Proceed to al-Masjid al-Haram in Makkah to perform Tawaf al-ifadha.

5- Run 7 Times between Al-Safa and Al-Marwa- At Makkah, pilgrims circulate the Kaaba seven times and perform Sa'y between hills of Safa and Marwa.  They then drink from Zam-zam well and return to Mina.

6- Perform Stoning of the Devil Up to Three Days in Mina-  Pilgrims carry to stay in Mina for two-three days and they again stone the devil to each of the three pillars on 11th and 12th of Dhul-Hijjah.  To avoid over-crowding, the stoning must be performed according to predetermined schedules.

7- Perform Farewell Tawaaf in Counter-Clock Wise Direction-  After completing this ritual, pilgrims return to Makkah and perform the final Tawaaf of Kaaba as a ‘Farewell Tawaaf’ in Masjid al-Haram.  This marks the end of Hajj.


                  

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