Every year more than 2 million Muslims of all ethnicities and races gather in Mecca to fulfill one of the five pillars of Islam, Hajj. And though maintaining order among large crowds of people can be difficult if not impossible, the harmonious Hajj gathering of millions of people has left everyone in awe. Amazing examples of unity, harmony and tolerance astonish those who watch Muslims around the world perform the Hajj on their TVs or computers. So what is Hajj all about? And what is it like to experience Hajj?
Hajj is the annual Islamic pilgrimage that must be carried out only by those physically and financially capable, at least once in their lives since it’s one of Islam’s five pillars. The pilgrimage occurs during the lunar month of Dhu Al-Hijja, the last month of the Islamic calendar. For many Muslims Hajj is a journey of submission to Allah.
All those who intend to complete Hajj must begin by doing Ihram, a spiritual and sacred state which all pilgrims must enter in order to perform Hajj. In the state of Ihram, men must wear non-stitched white sheets along with non- stitched sandals, whereas women wear their Abayas and Hijabs. With this said, it is important to point out that their is no gender segregation in Hajj, men and women are equal, they stand in the same prayer line and go through the same process. During Ihram both men and women must also abstain from certain things including: cutting nails and hair, sexual relations, arguing, fighting and hunting. Photographs of people from all around the world doing Hajj wearing the same clothes and going through the same thing leave you stunned at the strong sense of equality between everyone regardless of their race, class or wealth. Everyone is equal! And during this time appearances don’t matter at all.
Photo Credit: aljazeera.com
Photo Credit: aljazeera.com
Hajjis then go on to do Hajj rituals which including the following, with the proper order:
- Walking counter clockwise 7 times around the Kabaa while repeating the Talbya, a prayer in which pilgrims repeat “Labbayka Allahumma Labbayk…” to show that the only intention they have form Hajj is to glorify Allah.
- Running back and forth between the hills of Al-Safaa and Al-Marwa, two small hills located in Al-Masjid Al-Haram in Mecca. like the other Hajj rituals this also commemorates apart of “Abraham’s Story,” where Hajar ran back and fourth between the two hills in search of water for her infant Ismael.
- Drinking from the Zamzam Well 20 m east of Kaaba. Millions of Muslims drink from the well which was miraculously generated to satisfy the thirst of Infant Ismael.
- Going to Mount Arafat, a 70 m high hill to the east of Mecca, also know as the Mount of Mercy. The most important part of Hajj is performed on Mount Arafat. pilgrims listen to the Hajj Khutbah, a form of public preaching, and then pray Thuhr and Asr prayers together before they move to Muzdalifa at sunset.
- Spending the night in the plain of Muzdalifa. Pilgrims do their prayers and collect pebbles to throw in the symbolic stoning of the devil later.
- Performing the symbolic stoning of the devil in the city of Mina to the east of Mecca. In a series of rituals, Muslim pilgrims through pebbles at three walls.
- After finishing the stoning pilgrims exit their Ihram by cutting their hair. Exiting Ihram means that pilgrims are permitted do the things that were forbidding during Ihram.
- Performing animal sacrifice and celebrating Eid Al-Adha.
If you never experienced Hajj you can take a look at Al-Jazeera’s 360° Hajj video, it is as real as it can get!
For Muslims, Hajj is not only a religious ritual that commemorates the story of the prophet Abraham and signifies one’s religious commitment, but is also a way of bringing the Muslim community together. Hajj sets a solid ground for tolerance and equality among all people regardless of their backgrounds and origins.
Don’t forget to share the Baraka and leave a smile 🙂 ! Eid Mubarak!