Each year, millions of Muslims from all over the world set out to Makkah for the sacred pilgrimage known as Hajj. Hajj occurs once every year during the 12th month of the Islamic calendar, Dhul Hijjah. It is a five day long pilgrimage and should be completed by every able Muslim at least once in their life. Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam and brings many benefits and rewards to the person performing it.
When does hajj happen and why do we do it?
This year, the Hajj will begin on the evening of Thursday 7th July, the eighth day of Dhul Hijjah, and will end on the 13th of July. During these special days, the Muslims that are performing Hajj are in the state of ‘Ihram.’
Ihram means to enter into a state of purity. During this sacred state of mind, a spiritual relationship with God is established and worldly vanities are renounced.
While the pilgrimage is strenuous and physically taxing, it is a journey Muslims all over the world spend most of their lives saving up for. Not only is Hajj one of the obligatory acts of Islam, but it is also believed that the Muslims who perform Hajj have all of their sins forgiven by Allah SWT. They get a fresh clean start and receive a chance at increasing their love and devotion for Allah SWT.
During the Hajj, Muslims retrace the steps as done by the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, who performed the first Hajj after the hijrah to Madinah. Muslims also retrace the steps of Prophets Ibrahim AS and his son Prophet Ismail, both of who initially built the Ka’bah. We also follow the actions of Hajar AS, the wife of Prophet Ibrahim as she ran seven times between two small hills looking for water.
what do we do during hajj?
Hajj goes on for five days and begins two days before Eid-al-Adha. Many Muslims go to Madinah and spend some time in Masjid-un-Nabawi a few days before Hajj officially begins. During the first day of Hajj, pilgrims perform the Umrah in Makkah, circling the Ka’bah, which is known as tawaf. After this, they retrace the steps of Hajar AS, the wife of Ibrahim AS, just as she ran between two small hills, Safaa and Marwaa. The first day ends with pilgrims spending the night in tents in Mina, a valley and neighborhood a small distance away from Makkah.
On the second day, pilgrims head to Mount Arafah. They spend the afternoon worshipping Allah there and climbing Jabal Ar-Rahma, the place where the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said his final khutbah. In the afternoon, Muslims head toward Muzdalifa which is west of Arafah.
The final three days are spent with pilgrims circling the Ka’bah once more, throwing stones that they picked up during the journey to Muzdalifa at the Jamarat (three stone structures in Mina). After that, Muslims can finally leave the state of Ihram, men will shave their heads and women will cut a piece of their hair. Pilgrims carry out the ritual of sacrificing and slaughtering an animal. They also share the meat with the poor, concluding the Hajj.
the day of arafah
The second day of Hajj is more commonly known as the day of Arafah. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ gave his final sermon before passing from this world on the Mount of Arafah. While fasting isn’t required for the Muslims performing Hajj, it is a very encouraged and virtuous act for all other Muslims around the world. Muslims spend the Day of Arafah asking Allah for forgiveness and being grateful for all the blessings He has bestowed upon us.
Hajj is a journey that every Muslim dreams of. It’s an extremely spiritual and blessed time of the year and we must all pray to Allah SWT that he gives us the physical, mental, and financial means to be able to complete this important pillar of Islam.