The word 'Hajj' is popularly known as an Islamic pilgrimage that Muslims conduct in Saudi Arabia.
The ILoveQatar.net (ILQ) brings you a guide with details of the rituals practised in Hajj, the guidelines and information on how to go for Hajj from Qatar.
Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam and is a five-day pilgrimage, a spiritual duty of every Muslim to offer at least once in their lifetime.
The pilgrimage of Hajj takes place in the holy month of Dhul Hijjah, the 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar. The dates that Hajj occurs are between the 8th to the 12th of Dhul Hijjah.
The corresponding Gregorian calendar dates vary year on year.
Hajj is a spiritual duty upon every Muslim to perform at least once in their life; however subject to their financial, physical and emotional ability to do so. Muslims may perform Hajj more than once in their lives if they can.
Hajj signifies a test of patience and allows Muslims to spiritually revitalise themselves, cleanse sins and take a step closer to Allah (SWT).
The pilgrimage was a teaching of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). However, the rituals represent many learnings from the struggles and challenges that Prophet Ibrahim/Abraham (PBUH) faced.
Hajj is a religious obligation upon Muslim adults. Children may go; however, it is not a requirement.
Individuals who are weak, sick, elderly or physically incapable are exempted from it being a mandatory duty.
Financial ability is required to perform Hajj, meaning a person in debt is not obliged to offer Hajj until their debt is cleared. In such circumstances, one should ensure that the intention of performing Hajj remains a priority within them.
If someone is in debt, they may still perform Hajj, provided that their creditor permits them to go; the debtor has the time to clear their debt and performing Hajj does not affect their ability to clear off the debt.
There are three types of Hajj:
Typically pilgrims who live outside of Makkah or Saudi Arabia will perform what is known as 'Hajj Al Tamattu'. This refers to performing Umrah during the month of Dhul Hijjah just before the start of the Hajj itself.
Hajj starts with a sincere intention, also known as 'Niyyah', made by the worshipper that they will offer Hajj purely for the sake of Allah (SWT) and for the sake of goodness in the hereafter.
Entering the state of 'Ihram' is a combination of physical and mental purity within which a Muslim is expected to remain until the completion of their pilgrimage - this is applicable for Umrah and Hajj both.
'Ihram' for men
For men, the state of Ihram includes wearing two pieces of white cloth, one is wrapped around the shoulder and the other wrapped around the waist.
'Ihram' for women
Women are allowed to wear any preferred clothing as long as it follows the prescribed rules of the Hijab (the mandatory regulation of covering the body and the hair).
Women may dress modestly with no compulsion to cover their faces or hands.
Restrictions of 'Ihram'
When one enters the state of 'Ihram', one must refrain from using obscene or abusive language and remain mindful of their behaviour.
Prohibited actions include smoking, intimate relationships, hair shaving, cutting nails, and using perfumes or scented soaps (oil-based, non-scented soaps may be used).
Upon entering Makkah, the Hajj pilgrim must first perform Umrah at the Masjid al-Haram, the Great Mosque of Makkah.
Umrah includes 'Tawaf' (circular walk around the Kaa'bah - the stone cuboid structure covered in black cloth) and 'Sa'i' (walk between the hills of Safa and Marwa).
'Tawaf' is a fundamental pilgrimage step where Muslims are required to take rounds around the Kaa'ba seven times in an anti-clockwise direction.
The rounds start and end at the black stone, known as the 'Hajr Al-Aswad'. There are also multiple recitations and prayers that are recommended to be uttered while performing the encirclement, based on what Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to say.
This ritual signifies the human mind's complete focus on the creator.
'Sa'i' refers to the ritual which requires pilgrims to walk between the two hills of Safa and Marwa. A total of 7 laps must be completed between the two hills at a distance of 450 metres.
One may walk this distance; however, they will reach a point where a green light may be seen, indicating that the pilgrim may run until the next green indicator (if they are physically able to do so).
This particular ritual signifies the actions carried out by Hajar (PBUH), the wife of Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH). She had continuously walked up and down between these two mountains in search of help for her son Ismail (PBUH), who was thirsty in the middle of the desert. In this situation, the Angel Jibreel (Gabriel) had descended and scratched the ground from which water sprung. Hajar (PBUH) then dug this water spring, making it known as the well of Zam Zam (Islamic holy water), which still runs infinitely to date.
Therefore, this ritual symbolises the trust and faith that one must endure and the many challenges one will face throughout life.
Clipping of hair
To commemorate the completion of 'Umrah,' pilgrims must clip their hair. Men may clip or shave their hair completely, while women may clip the bottom of their hair equivalent to a fingertip.
Pilgrims may now leave the state of 'Ihram' until the 8th Dhul Hijjah, when they will need to re-enter the state of 'Ihram' to perform the rituals specific to Hajj.
The state of 'Ihram' for Hajj begins with the recitation of a supplication named 'Talbiyah' which translates to the following:
"Here I am, O Allah, here I am, here I am. You have no partner; here I am. Verily all praise and blessings are Yours, and all sovereignty. You have no partner."
This supplication marks the start of your Hajj journey.
The first destination of Hajj is 'Mina', a neighbourhood in Makkah also known as a tent city. It is an obligation to spend the 8th night of Dhul Hijjah in Mina.
Upon arriving at Mina, pilgrims settle in their allocated tent and engage in prayers, recitation of the Quran and spiritual reflections through the night.
After sunrise in Mina, pilgrims proceed towards Mount Arafat by foot which is particularly significant as it is deemed to be the place where Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) gave his last sermon.
Pilgrims walk towards the mountain while reciting the 'Talbiyyah' and other supplications. Once they reach the site, pilgrims offer a shortened version of their 'Zuhr' & 'Asr' prayer, which is the afternoon and late afternoon prayer from the daily prayer.
This day is also auspicious as it is believed to be a day of forgiveness; therefore, many pilgrims choose to stand on the mountain and seek forgiveness relentlessly.
Due to the significance of this day, those that are unable to perform the pilgrimage that year choose to fast on this day.
Once the sun has set, pilgrims will then proceed to a small town known as 'Muzadalifah', which is a plain area between Mina and 'Arafah. Upon reaching Muzdalifah, pilgrims will offer the evening and shortened night prayers of their daily prayers.
Pilgrims then spend their night under the open sky and collect 49 pebbles in preparation for the next ritual known as 'Rami' (stoning of the devil).
Many pilgrims use this day and time at Muzdalifah to pray and rest ahead of the upcoming rituals.
The significance of this day includes the equality between humans as everyone rests under the open sky with no particular accommodation facilities, and the collection of the stones is a great way for people to reflect on sins they might've committed and could thus be a life-changing path for them.
The 10th day of Dhul Hijjah, typically celebrated as Eid Al Adha across the globe happens to be one of the biggest days for those performing Hajj. This day is also known as 'Yawm al-Nahr', meaning 'Day of Sacrifice'.
After the dawn prayer, pilgrims will proceed back to Mina from Muzadalifah.
On this specific day, pilgrims begin the 'stoning of the devil' ritual wherein pilgrims throw pebbles at three stone structures in Mina. The three stone structures are known as 'Jamarat'.
This ritual is a representation of the act of Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) when he pelted Satan (Shaitan) with stones when he tried to persuade him against sacrificing his son.
Each of the three stone structures symbolises a different type of temptation caused by Satan (Shaitan). The first one represents the temptation of Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) for not sacrificing his son following the command of Allah, and the second 'Jamarat' represents the temptation of reluctance from Prophet Ibrahim's wife 'Hajar' (PBUH) for the sacrifice of their son, and the third stone represents the temptation of Prophet Ismail (PBUH) - son of Prophet Ibrahim not wanting to be sacrificed.
The ritual emphasises that in all three attempts of temptation, it was Satan (Shaitan) who failed to succeed, and their faith in Allah (SWT) prevailed.
Upon the completion of the first day (10th Dhul Hijjah) of the stoning of the devil ritual, pilgrims must then offer a sacrifice of an animal (cattle). This ritual represents Prophet Ibrahim's (PBUH) willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail (PBUH) as per the command of Allah.
Once the sacrifice is offered, pilgrims will clip their hair or shave their heads. Pilgrims can now release themselves from the state of 'Ihram'; however, refraining from intimate relationships.
Pilgrims will then proceed to Makkah to perform 'Tawaf' (encirclement of Kaa'bah) & 'Sa'i (laps between Mount Safa & Marwa) as part of Hajj and then return to Mina to perform the last two days of the stoning of the devil on 11th & 12th of Dhul Hijjah.
To mark the completion of Hajj, pilgrims return to Makkah from Mina and perform one more round (7 circles) of Tawaf as a farewell before departing from Makkah. This is considered an obligatory final ritual.
Any citizen or resident of Qatar intending to perform Hajj must submit an application online to the Ministry of Endowments & Islamic Affairs (Awqaf) via their website.
Once this approval is received, pilgrims may reach out to any dedicated agency to choose a suitable package for Hajj.
Did you know these details about Hajj? Are you planning to go for Hajj? Do let us know in the comments below. Do share this article - it keeps us going!
If you have anything you want to share with us, send us an e-mail at [email protected]!
Want to send a tip? Drop us an e-mail at [email protected], anonymity is guaranteed!
You have successfully registered your account!Please confirm your e-mail address by clicking on the URL sent to you.The e-mail usually arrives in 5-10 minutes.
How ajeeb was that!? Thanks for contributing to our community! Your post will appear after we take a quick look!