The Hajj, the fifth and last of the pillars of Islam, is one of the largest single gatherings of Muslims on earth—hailing from all over the world, each with their own stories and backgrounds, but all united through their shared belief in God. Each year, 2 to 3 million pilgrims arrive in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime spiritual journey. Here, we commemorate the solidarity of Muslims worldwide, and more importantly, profess our willingness to submit to God.
What is Haj
The Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam, after Shahada (faith), Salah (prayer), Zakat (charity) and Sawm (fasting). Together, these make up the foundations of the religion of Islam, and must be adhered to by all who profess the faith. The Hajj itself is an annual pilgrimage made by Muslims all over the world, who come together in the holiest city in Islam: Mecca.
It is said in the Quran that God ordered the prophet Ibrahim to build the Ka’bah, the holy building that lies in the centre of Islam’s largest and greatest mosque, Al-Masjid Al-Haram (The Sacred Mosque) in Mecca. The modern Hajj, however, is said to have been created by the Prophet Muhammad, who in the year 630 AD led his followers to Mecca from the city of Medina and dedicated the Ka’bah once again to Allah. It was then that the Hajj became the fifth pillar of Islam.
Why do we perform HAJ?
The Hajj is performed as a compulsory religious duty for all Muslims. Known as a fard or faridah, it is commanded of all Muslims by God. According to the Quran, all adult Muslims must perform the Hajj at least once in their lifetime, provided that they are physically and financially able to make the journey to Mecca, and can support their family while they are away.
In addition, performing the Hajj is a sign of one’s commitment to Islam, as well as an opportunity to reaffirm one’s faith and be cleansed of sin. As one of the five pillars of Islam, it serves as an important step towards achieving spirituality for many Muslims.
Which month is best for HAJ?
As stated in the Quran, the Hajj may only be performed from the 8th to 13th of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah, which is the twelfth and last month in the Islamic calendar. It is dependent on the sighting of the moon of Dhu al-Hijjah. The dates of the Hajj in the Gregorian calendar are subject to change every year, as the Islamic calendar is lunar and shorter than the Gregorian calendar.
In 2024, the Hajj is tentatively scheduled for Evening of Fri, 14 Jun 2024 – Wed, 19 Jun 2024
How many days do I need to perform HAJ?
The Hajj is performed over 6 days in the month of Dhu al-Hijjah. Each day, all Hajj pilgrims assemble around Mecca to partake in religious rituals. The coming together of Muslims from all walks of life, for the purpose of reaffirming their commitment to God and Islam, symbolizes the equality of all believers regardless of their background, identity or culture.
What can I expect during HAJ?
Before formally embarking on their pilgrimage, all Muslims arriving for the Hajj must enter Ihram: a state of purity that involves certain restrictions on clothing, grooming and behavior. It signifies that all pilgrims, regardless of their status in life, are equal before God. You will also be required to declare your niyyah (intention) of carrying out the Hajj. Ihram must be achieved before any pilgrim may cross the boundary points of Mecca (known as Miqat) and begin their pilgrimage.
First, you will carry out the ritual of Tawaf by completing seven anticlockwise circuits on foot around the Ka’bah, in Al-Masjid Al-Haram. After completing the Tawaf, two Rakat prayers are performed at the Muqam Ibrahim (Place of Abraham). This is followed by the ritual of Sa’ae, which involves walking back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwah seven times. After the morning prayer, you will go to the city of Mina, to complete your daily prayers and spend the night there.
This day is known as the Day of Arafah. In the morning, you will arrive at Arafat, a hill 20 kilometres east of Mecca where the Prophet Muhammad is said to have delivered his last sermon. Here, pilgrims seek absolution for their past sins and the mercy of God. This is considered one of the most significant rituals in the Hajj, which is not considered valid if a pilgrim does not visit Arafat. After sunset, you will leave for Muzdalifah to pray and gather pebbles for the next day’s ritual.
Returning to Mina, you will perform the symbolic Ramy al-Jamarat (Stoning of the Devil) ceremony by throwing seven stones at the largest of three pillars, said to represent Satan. Following this, pilgrims slaughter animals to remember the story of Ibrahim and Ismail. (You can buy a sacrifice voucher in Mecca to have an animal slaughtered in God’s name instead.) You will then shave your head (for men) or trim some of your hair (for women) before performing another Tawaf.
The stoning ritual is repeated. Pilgrims may leave Mina for Mecca before sunset on the 12th, after performing one last Tawaf.
Pilgrims who stayed in Mina must perform another stoning ritual before leaving for Mecca. All pilgrims then perform the Tawaf al-Wadaa to bid farewell before leaving Mecca.
Hajj Pre Experience
How much will it cost to perform HAJ?
At the end of the day, performing Hajj is a truly extraordinary experience, one that brings Muslims together from all walks of life, from every corner of the globe. Regardless of our individual backgrounds, Hajj unites all of us in our worship of God and celebration of our faith. So if you are still wondering whether you should embark on this special journey—there is only one way to find out.