Hajj is a sacred pilgrimage that holds great significance in the Islamic faith. It is one of the five pillars of Islam. Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam and is an obligation for every Muslim who is financially and physically capable of undertaking the journey at least once in their lifetime. It is a spiritual journey that allows Muslims to express their devotion to Allah Almighty and follow in the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Hajj is an opportunity for Muslims from all over the world to gather in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and experience the diversity and unity of the Ummah. The pilgrimage involves various rituals and symbolic actions that are based on the Quran and the Sunnah. The rituals include wearing the Ihram, a special garment worn by pilgrims, performing Tawaf, which is the circumambulation of the Kaaba, and performing Sa’i, which is the walking between Safa and Marwa.
The Kaaba is the holiest site in Islam and is the House of Allah Almighty. It is the place where Prophet Abraham (AS) stood and is a symbol of the unity of the Muslim Ummah. The pilgrimage also involves visiting the nearby sites of Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifah. In this blog post, we will explain some of the main aspects of Hajj, such as who can perform it and when and where it takes place.
In our other blog, we discuss the Conquest of Makkah: A Revelation of Faith and Forgiveness.
In it are clear signs and the standing place of Abraham. Whoever enters it should be safe. Pilgrimage to this House is an obligation by Allah upon whoever is able among the people. And whoever disbelieves, then surely Allah is not in need of any of His creation. (Surah Al-Imran: 97)
The Timing of Hajj: A Lunar Calendar Tradition
The pilgrimage rituals are performed over five to six days, extending from the 8th to the 12th or 13th of Dhul Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar. As the Islamic calendar follows the moon and is approximately eleven days shorter than the regular Gregorian calendar, the date of Hajj in the Gregorian calendar changes each year. However, it always occurs during the sacred month of Dhul Hijjah – the twelfth month in the Islamic Calendar. Hajj begins on the 8th of Dhul Hijjah and lasts approximately five to six days, depending on the sighting of the moon. As we collectively await the sighting of the new crescent moon, it marks the joyous onset of the three-day celebration of Eid al-Adha for us Muslims worldwide.
Eligibility for Performing Hajj
To perform Hajj, individuals must meet certain conditions:
- Adult Muslim men and women must perform the Hajj. Children may accompany their families on the pilgrimage, but it is not mandatory for them.
- People who are weak, sick, elderly, or physically incapable are exempt from performing the Hajj.
- One must have the financial means to undertake the Hajj. If an individual is in debt, it is advisable to prioritize clearing the debt before embarking on the pilgrimage. However, if the debtor has the creditor’s permission, they may proceed. Additionally, if they have the means to repay the debt while fulfilling the obligations of Hajj, they may also move.
- The Saudi Ministry of Health issues specific health requirements and recommendations for travelers during the Hajj season. These include vaccinations against meningococcal meningitis, poliomyelitis, and yellow fever.
Commitment to pilgrimage is made in appointed months. Whoever commits to performing pilgrimage, let them stay away from intimate relations, foul language, and arguments during pilgrimage. Whatever good you do, Allah fully knows of it. Take necessary provisions for the journey—surely the best provision is righteousness. And be mindful of Me, O people of reason! (Surah Al Baqarah:197)
Conditions of Hajj for Men
Hajj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. It is a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, a compulsory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are financially and physically capable of undertaking the journey. Here are the basic conditions for men to perform Hajj:
- Islam: The person must be a Muslim, as Hajj is a religious obligation for followers of Islam.
- Maturity: The person must be mentally and physically mature. Islam generally considers puberty as the age of maturity.
- Sane and mentally competent: The person must be of sound mind and capable of making rational decisions.
- Financial capability: The individual must have the financial means to undertake the journey. This includes the cost of travel, accommodation, and other expenses for the duration of the pilgrimage.
- Physical capability: The person must be physically capable of performing the rituals of Hajj. This includes being able to endure the physical demands of the pilgrimage, such as walking long distances and standing for extended periods.
- Freedom: The individual must be free to perform Hajj. If someone is in debt, in bondage, or facing other restrictions, they may not be considered free to fulfill this obligation.
It’s important to note that while Hajj is obligatory for those who meet these conditions, Umrah can be performed at any time of the year. It is not compulsory but is highly recommended in Islam.
Narrated by Hazrat Aishah (RA):
The Prophet (SAW) sent my brother, ‘Abdur Rahman with me to Tan’im for the ‘Umra, and he made me ride on the packsaddle (of a camel). ‘Umar said, “Be ready to travel for Hajj as it (Hajj) is one of the two kind of Jihad”.(Sahih al-Bukhari 1516)
For detailed guidance on How to perform Hajj, please refer to my blog post on Islamic mentors.
Condition of Hajj for Women
The conditions for women to perform Hajj are generally similar to those for men, with some additional considerations due to the specific circumstances and requirements for female pilgrims in Islam. Here are the conditions for women to perform Hajj:
- Islam: The woman must be a Muslim, as Hajj is a religious duty for followers of Islam.
- Maturity: The woman must be mentally and physically mature. Islam generally considers puberty as the age of maturity.
- Sane and mentally competent: Like men, women must be of sound mind and capable of making rational decisions.
- Financial capability: Women must have the financial means to undertake the journey. This includes the cost of travel, accommodation, and other expenses for the duration of the pilgrimage.
- Physical capability: Women must be physically capable of performing the rituals of Hajj. This includes being able to endure the physical demands of the pilgrimage, such as walking long distances and standing for extended periods.
- Mahram (Guardian): A woman must be accompanied by a Mahram, a male relative (such as a father, brother, son, or husband) with whom marriage is not permissible according to Islamic law. This requirement is for the woman’s safety and protection during the journey.
- Health considerations: Women who are pregnant or experiencing health issues that may prevent them from safely participating in the pilgrimage may be exempted from the obligation. Consulting with a qualified Islamic scholar or a medical professional is advised in such cases.
And remember when We made the Sacred House a center and a sanctuary for the people ˹saying˺, “You may take the standing place of Abraham as a site of prayer.” And We entrusted Abraham and Ishmael to purify My House for those who circle it, who meditate in it, and who bow and prostrate themselves in prayer. (Surah Al Baqarah:125)
Hajj: A Sacred Annual Pilgrimage
Millions of Muslims worldwide undertake the annual religious pilgrimage to Mecca known as the Hajj. It is a sacred journey that holds immense significance in the lives of Muslims as it is a powerful reminder of unity, equality, and devotion to Allah Almighty.
Discover the profound spiritual experience of Umrah and complement your understanding of Islamic pilgrimages by delving into the details in my dedicated blog post on What is Umrah – How to Perform Umrah
Narrated by Hazrat Abu Huraira (RA):
The Prophet (SAW) said, “Whoever performs Hajj for Allah’s pleasure and does not have sexual relations with his wife, and does not do evil or sins then he will return (after Hajj free from all sins) as if he were born anew.”(Sahih al-Bukhari 1521)
Dua for Hajj
The Talbiyah is a declaration made by pilgrims as they enter into the state of Ihram during Hajj. Here is the Talbiyah in Arabic:
“Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik, Labbaik Laa Shareeka Laka Labbaik, Innal Hamda wan-Ni’mata Laka wal Mulk, Laa Shareeka Lak.”
Translation in English:
“Here I am, O Allah, here I am. Here I am; you have no partner; here I am. Verily, all praise, grace, and dominion belong to You. You have no partner.”
FAQs about Hajj
Why is Hajj Important?
- Spiritual Obligation: It is the fifth pillar of Islam, obligatory for all financially and physically capable Muslims.
- Unity and Equality: Pilgrims, dressed in simple attire, demonstrate unity and equality before Allah, breaking down societal barriers.
- Prophet Ibrahim’s Legacy: Hajj retraces Prophet Ibrahim’s (A.S) footsteps, commemorating his unwavering faith and devotion to God’s command.
- Forgiveness and Cleansing: Completing Hajj is believed to purify sins, grant forgiveness, and bring spiritual renewal to the pilgrim.
Why do we Perform Hajj?
- Religious Duty: Muslims perform Hajj as a mandatory religious duty, the fifth pillar of Islam, outlined in the Quran.
- Spiritual Cleansing: Hajj is a journey of purification, forgiveness, and redemption, providing an opportunity to cleanse oneself of sins.
- Unity and Equality: Pilgrims, regardless of social status, dress in simple attire, fostering a sense of unity and equality in Islam.
- Prophetic Tradition: Hajj follows the footsteps of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and Prophet Muhammad (PBUM), reinforcing a deep connection to the rich traditions of Islam.
Where is Hajj Located?
Hajj takes place in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, where millions of Muslims gather annually to perform the pilgrimage rituals centered around the Kaaba in the Masjid al-Haram.
How many days is Hajj?
Hajj lasts about 5 to 6 days, from the 8th to the 12th or 13th of Dhul Hijjah.
What is Ihram?
Ihram is a sacred state into which a Muslim pilgrim must enter to perform Hajj or Umrah. The term has three meanings:
- These are the two pieces of cloth that male pilgrims wear during Hajj.
- The very act of initiating Hajj or Umrah is making the intention that one is now starting Hajj or Umrah and saying the Talbiyah.
- The state of consecration in which the pilgrims are during Hajj or Umrah.
Read our blog on the Importance of Making Sincere Intention.
In conclusion, Hajj is a sacred pilgrimage, the fifth pillar of Islam, symbolizing unity, equality, and devotion to Allah Almighty. Muslims undertake this journey to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, as a religious obligation, following the footsteps of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and Prophet Muhammad (SAW). It is a spiritually enriching experience that cleanses sins, grants forgiveness, and renews one’s faith. The culmination of Hajj is marked by the joyous celebration of Eid al-Adha, emphasizing sacrifice and gratitude. This annual pilgrimage serves as a powerful reminder of the diverse and united Muslim Ummah, fulfilling a crucial role in the lives of believers worldwide.