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 The Fifth Pillar of Islam: The Pilgrimage (Hajj)

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As Salamu Alaikum

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The Fifth Pillar of Islam: The Pilgrimage (Hajj)

The Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) is the fifth of the fundamental Muslim practices and institutions known as the five pillars of Islam. Pilgrimage is not undertaken in Islam to the shrines of saints, to monasteries for help from holy men, or to sights where miracles are supposed to have occurred, even though we may see many Muslims do this. Pilgrimage is made to the Kaaba, found in the sacred city of Mecca in Saudia, the ‘House of God,’ whose sanctity rests in that the Prophet Abraham built it for the worship of God. God rewarded him by attributing the House to himself, in essence honoring it, and by making it the devotional epicenter which all Muslims face when offering the prayers (salah). The rites of pilgrimage are performed today exactly as did by Abraham, and after him by Prophet Muhammad, may God praise them.

Pilgrimage is viewed as a particularly meritorious activity. Pilgrimage serves as a penance - the ultimate forgiveness for sins, devotion, and intense spirituality. The pilgrimage to Mecca, the most sacred city in Islam, is required of all physically and financially able Muslims once in their life. The pilgrimage rite begins a few months after Ramadan, on the 8th day of the last month of the Islamic year of Dhul-Hijjah, and ends on the 13th day. Mecca is the center towards which the Muslims converge once a year, meet and refresh in themselves the faith that all Muslims are equal and deserve the love and sympathy of others, irrespective of their race or ethnic origin. The racial harmony fostered by Hajj is perhaps best captured by Malcolm X on his historic pilgrimage:

‘Every one of the thousands at the airport, about to leave for Jeddah, was dressed this way. You could be a king or a peasant and no one would know. Some powerful personages, who were discreetly pointed out to me, had on the same thing I had on. Once thus dressed, we all had begun intermittently calling out “Labbayka! (Allahumma) Labbayka!” (At your service, O Lord!) Packed in the plane were white, black, brown, red, and yellow people, blue eyes and blond hair, and my kinky red hair - all together, brothers! All honoring the same God, all in turn giving equal honor to each other . . .

That is when I first began to reappraise the ‘white man’. It was when I first began to perceive that ‘white man’, as commonly used, means complexion only secondarily; primarily it described attitudes and actions. In America, ‘white man’ meant specific attitudes and actions toward the black man, and toward all other non-white men. But in the Muslim world, I had seen that men with white complexions were more genuinely brotherly than anyone else had ever been. That morning was the start of a radical alteration in my whole outlook about ‘white’ men.

There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blonds 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. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered white - but the ‘white’ attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color.”

Thus the pilgrimage unites the Muslims of the world into one international fraternity. More than two million persons perform the Hajj each year, and the rite serves as a unifying force in Islam by bringing followers of diverse backgrounds together in worship. In some Muslim societies, once a believer has made the pilgrimage, he is often labeled with the title ‘hajji’ ; this, however, is a cultural, rather than religious custom. Finally, the Hajj is a manifestation of the belief in the unity of God - all the pilgrims worship and obey the commands of the One God.

At certain stations on the caravan routes to Mecca, or when the pilgrim passes the point nearest to those stations, the pilgrim enters the state of purity known as ihram. In this state, the certain ‘normal’ actions of the day and night become impermissible for the pilgrims, such as covering the head, clipping the fingernails, and wearing normal clothing in regards to men. Males remove their clothing and don the garments specific to this state of ihram, two white seamless sheets that are wrapped around the body. All this increases the reverence and sanctity of the pilgrimage, the city of Mecca, and month of Dhul-Hijjah. There are 5 stations, one on the coastal plains northwest of Mecca towards Egypt and one south towards Yemen, while three lie north or eastwards towards Medina, Iraq and al-Najd. The simple garb signifies the equality of all humanity in God’s sight, and the removal of all worldly affections. After entering the state of ihram, the pilgrim proceeds to Mecca and awaits the start of the Hajj. On the 7th of Dhu al-Hijjah the pilgrim is reminded of his duties, and at the commence of the ritual, which takes place between the 8th and the 12th days of the month, the pilgrim visits the holy places outside Mecca - Arafah, Muzdalifah, and Minaa - and sacrifices an animal in commemoration of Abraham’s sacrifice. The pilgrim then shortens or shaves their head, and, after throwing seven stones at specific pillars at Minaa on three or four successive days, and heads for the central mosque where he walks seven times around the sacred sanctuary, or Kaaba, in the Great Mosque, and ambulates, walking and running, seven times between the two small hills of Mt. Safaa and Mt. Marwah. Discussing the historical or spiritual significance of each rite is beyond the scope of this introductory article.

Apart from Hajj, the “minor pilgrimage” or umrah is undertaken by Muslims during the rest of the year. Performing the umrah does not fulfill the obligation of Hajj. It is similar to the major and obligatory Islamic pilgrimage (hajj), and pilgrims have the choice of performing the umrah separately or in combination with the Hajj. As in the Hajj, the pilgrim begins the umrah by assuming the state of ihram. They enter Mecca and circle the sacred shrine of the Kaaba seven times. He may then touch the Black Stone, if he can, pray behind the Maqam Ibrahim, drink the holy water of the Zamzam spring. The ambulation between the hills of Safa and Marwah seven times and the shortening or shaving of the head complete the umrah.

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The Fifth Pillar of Islam: The Pilgrimage (Hajj) 13551710

Pilgrimage was ordained in the sixth year after the migration of the Prophet The Fifth Pillar of Islam: The Pilgrimage (Hajj) Icon--1. It suffices for a pilgrim to do it once in a lifetime, and performing it more than once is voluntary.

A Pilgrim whose Hajj is accepted by Allaah is given the good tidings that he would return with all his sins being forgiven. The Prophet The Fifth Pillar of Islam: The Pilgrimage (Hajj) Icon--1 says: “He who performs Hajj with no obscenity or evil practices will come out from all sins as a newly born baby.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim].

In this article, we will guide you through the steps of pilgrimage and try to be as brief as possible without leaving anything important out or un attended.
The Meeqaat:
Upon arriving at the Meeqaat (the place from where a pilgrim assumes the state of Ihraam), perform Ghusl (a ritual bathe), perfume yourself, but not your pilgrimage garments, and put the two-piece garment on with no headgear. The garments should not be form-fitting. One piece to cover the upper part of the body, and the second to cover the lower part. The woman's Ihraam (i.e. garment of pilgrimage) is any decent, loose garment that covers her entire body and that fulfills all Islaamic conditions of Hijaab, while exposing her face, hands and not using any perfumes. If the time comes for obligatory prayer whilst assuming Ihraam, you should perform it. If not, you can pray two voluntary Rak'ahs after ablution.

You should initiate the state of Ihraam by proclaiming the type of Hajj you intend to perform. For Hajj Al-Ifraad you should say: "Labbayka Allaahumma Hajjan". For Hajj Al-Qiraan you should say: "Labbayka 'Umratan wa Hajjan". For Hajj At-Tamattu' you should say: "Labbayka 'Umrah". After concluding his 'Umrah, one goes back to normal (no Ihraam restrictions). Then, you repeat the supplication of Hajj, called Talbiyyah, saying: "Labbayka Allaahumma labbayk. Labbayka laa shareeka laka labbayk. Innalhamda wna-n'imata laka walmulk, laa shareek lak".

When you are in a state of Ihraam, you are not allowed to do any of the following: wear any form-fitting clothes, cut or shave hair from any part of the body, use perfumes on the body or clothes, clip your nails, engage in hunting, eat game meat (unless it was not exclusively hunted for him or another pilgrim), contract a marriage or have sexual intercourse and all matters leading to it. As for a woman pilgrim, she is forbidden to wear a Niqaab (i.e. a veil that is tied on the face), or gloves. However, in the presence of men she draws down a veil from her head to cover her face.

Arriving in Makkah:

Upon arriving at the sacred mosque in Makkah (Al-Masjid Al-Haraam), you should enter with your right foot and say: "Bismillaah, Allaahumma Salli 'Alaa Muhammad, Allaahumma Ighfirli waftahli Abwaaba Rahmatik. (In the name of Allaah! O Allaah! Exalt the mention of your Messenger. O Allaah! Forgive my sins, and open the gates of your mercy for me)." You should enter in a manner expressing humility and gratitude to the blessings He conferred upon you.

Before performing Tawaaf (i.e. circumambulation), make sure that the sheets of Ihraam are in Idh-Dhibaa' position (to wrap the upper sheet of Ihraam below the right arm and hang over the left shoulder so that the right shoulder is uncovered), this is done exclusively during Tawaaf.

Start Tawaaf from the Black stone keeping the Ka'bah to your left. Kiss the Black Stone if possible, touch it with your right hand if possible, otherwise just point at it with your right hand, without harming others, saying: "Bismillaah, Allaah-u-Akbar". Then immerse your self in remembrance of Allaah, supplication and asking for forgiveness.

Hasten during the first three rounds of Tawaaf and walk during the remaining four. This fast walking is called Ramal.

Touch the Yamani Corner with your right hand whenever you pass by it if possible, without kissing it; if touching it is not possible, do not point at it. While you are passing between the two corners, it is recommended to say: "Rabbanaa Aatinaa Fid-Dunyaa Hasanatan Wa fil-Aakhirati Hasanatan Wa Qinaa 'Athaabannaar".

Circumambulate the Ka'bah for seven times starting from the Black Stone and ending by it; saying Allaah-u-Akbar whenever you are parallel to it. After Tawaaf, cover your right shoulder again, go to Maqaam Ibraaheem (Ibraaheem's station) and recite: "Wattakhithoo Min Maqaami Ibraaheema Musallaa" [Al-Baqarah: 125] you should recite this in Arabic if you know how, otherwise just perform two Rak'ahs behind it (if possible or anywhere in the mosque when crowded). Recite chapter 109 of the Quran in the first Rak'ah and chapter 112 in the second.

Ascend Mount As-Safaa and recite (in Arabic only): "Inna As-Safaa Wal-Marwata Min Sha'aa'irillaah" [Al-Baqarah: 157]. After this you say: "I begin with what Allaah began with." Face the Ka'bah and raise your hands in supplication saying thrice: "Laa Ilaaha Illallaah wahdah, Anjaza Wa'dah, Wa Nasar 'Abdah, Wa Hazamal-Ahzaab Wahdah." Then supplicate for your self.

Descend from As-Safaa and head to Al-Marwah, when you reach the two green signs, increase your pace between them and run. Then return to your normal pace until you reach Al-Marwah. Immerse your self in remembrance of Allaah praying to him whilst walking.

Upon reaching Al-Marwah, ascend it, face the Ka'bah and say as you've said on As-Safaa. Thus you have fulfilled one lap of seven. Going back to As-Safaa, walk calmly and hasten on reaching the aforementioned green sign. The same steps are repeated in each of the seven laps.

Shaving the Head or Trimming the Hair:

After Sa'y, (i.e. walking between As-Safaa and Al-Marwah seven times) if you are performing Hajj At-Tamatt'u it is preferable to trim (and not shave) your hair and with this you end your 'Umrah rites. At this stage, the prohibitions of the state of Ihraam are lifted and you can resume your normal life. If you are performing Hajj al-Qiraan or al-Ifraad, you remain in the state of Ihraam and this Sa'y suffices you from having to do it at the end of Hajj.

The Tarwiyyah Day:

On the 8th of Thul-Hijjah, a Pilgrim performing Hajj At-Tamatt'u should assume Ihraam again from where he is staying, saying: "Labbayka Allaahumma Hajjan".

It is better to leave for Minaa in the morning. In Minaa, the pilgrims pray Thuhr, 'Asr, Maghrib and 'Ishaa' of the 8th and Fajr of the 9th ('Arafah day). Thuhr, 'Asr and 'Ishaa' are shortened to two Rak'ahs, but are not combined. One should increase remembrance of Allaah and supplication, and repeat Talbiyyah.

Departure to 'Arafaat:

On the 9th of Thul-Hijjah. ('Arafaah day), you stay in 'Arafaat until sunset. It is preferable to pray Thuhr and 'Asr at 'Arafaat, shortened and combined during the time of Thuhr. Make sure that you stay within the boundaries of 'Arafaat, not necessarily standing on the mountain of 'Arafaat. You should spend most of the day glorifying Allaah, supplicating and asking forgiveness, raising your hands in supplication as did the Prophet The Fifth Pillar of Islam: The Pilgrimage (Hajj) Icon--1.

Leaving for Muzdalifa:

After sunset, on 'Arafah day, quietly and reverently leave for Muzdalifah in compliance with the advice of the Prophet The Fifth Pillar of Islam: The Pilgrimage (Hajj) Icon--1. In Muzdalifah, the pilgrim combines Maghrib and 'Ishaa' prayers, shortening the 'Ishaa' prayer to two Rak'ahs. Spend the night in Muzdalifah to perform the Fajr prayer of the next day. Then you should immerse yourself in remembrance of Allaah praying to Him.

Stoning Jamartul-'Aqabah:

Before sunrise, head to Minaa to throw the pebbles. Walk calmly, repeating Talbiyyah throughout the way. When you reach Jamratul-'Aqabah, stop saying Talbiyyah and stone the seven pebbles saying: "Allaah-u-Akbar" at each throw.

The end of the First Phase of the State of Ihraam:

After stoning Jamratul-'Aqabah, the pilgrim goes to slaughter his sacrifice himself or he appoints somebody else to do it. He eats of it and feeds the poor. The final rite on the tenth day is to shave your head or shorten it. Shaving the head is more rewarding. For women, the length of hair to be cut is that of a fingertip. Stoning Jamraul-'Aqabah, and shaving the head or trimming the hair symbolize the end of the first phase of the state of Ihraam and the lifting of its restrictions, except for sexual intercourse with one's spouse.

Tawaaf Al-Ifaadhah:

After performing all the aforementioned steps, go to Makkah to perform Tawaaf Al-Ifaadhah by circling the Ka'bah seven times and praying two Rak'ahs behind Maqaam Ibraaheem, without causing any harm to Muslims, otherwise any where in the Haram. Then perform Sa'y between As-Safaa and Al-Marwah if you are performing Hajj At-Tamatt'u, or if you are performing Hajj al-Qiraan, or al-Ifraad and did not perform it with your first Tawaaf. After Tawaaf Al-Ifaadhah the state of Ihraam ends and all restrictions are lifted, including sexual intercourse with one's spouse. Tawaaf Al-Ifaadhah can be delayed until the days spent in Minaa are over.

Spending the Night at Minaa:

After Tawaaf Al-Ifaadhah you should return to Minaa and spend the days of Tashreeq there (11th, 12th and 13th of Thul-Hijjah). The first two nights are an obligatory rite of Hajj and must be fulfilled and the third one is optional.


During each of the days of Tashreeq, stone the three stone pillars called "Jamaraat" (small, medium and Jamratul-'Aqabah) saying: "Allaah-u-Akbar" with each throw of the seven pebbles, stoned successively at each pillar. The time of stoning the three Jamaraat is after zenith. It is commendable, after stoning the first Jamarah and the second Jamarah, to face the direction of the Qiblah and supplicate to Allaah. After Stoning the largest Jamarah (Jamaratul-'Aqabah), do not stop for supplication.

Farwell Tawaaf:

The farewell Tawaaf is the final rite of Hajj. When you intend to go home, go to Makkah and perform the Farewell Tawaaf around the Ka'bah. However, women in their menstrual or postnatal period are exempted from this Tawaaf.
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The Fifth Pillar of Islam: The Pilgrimage (Hajj)
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