What is Hajj?

Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam in which Muslims from all around the world head to Makkah to observe the rituals of pilgrimage and recreate the practice performed by Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) in his pilgrimage. During Hajj, the pilgrims wear special clothes called Ihram in order to ensure that there is no discrimination on the basis of wealth, class, culture, and status.
Hajj is mandatory for every Muslim, male/ female, if he/she is financially and physically capable to perform the rituals. People who are not financially capable to perform Hajj are often financed by others to offer the holy pilgrimage. Women require the presence of a Mahram i.e. her father, husband, brother, or son in order to complete Hajj.

How Long is the Hajj?

Hajj is the largest annual gathering of Muslims as millions of people attend the pilgrimage that takes place from 8th – 12th of Zil Hajj (last month of Islamic calendar). The rituals of Hajj are completed in these five. However, Muslims stay longer than this as they perform other religious obligations. Hajj pilgrimage usually varies from 10-40 days depending on the stay of individuals.

What is the Purpose of Making Pilgrimage to Makkah?

Muslims gather in Makkah in order to show honor and respect to Almighty Allah and perform Hajj. Makkah is the holiest city of all Muslim countries and the House of Almighty Allah, Ka’bah, is also present in Makkah. The Ka’bah was built by Prophet Ibrahim (P.B.U.H.) along with his son Prophet Ismail (P.B.U.H.). The City of Makkah is so holy that no non-Muslim is allowed to visit it and also has the Zam Zam water that people take home during Hajj in order to share it with their family and friends.

Three Ways to Perform Hajj

Muslims have three different ways of performing Hajj. Each way has slightly different rituals that need to be performed and the timeline also differs from each other. The three ways to perform Hajj are:

  1. Hajj Al-Tamattu: This way of performing Hajj is the most common and is also recommended by Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.). In Hajj Al-Tamattu, pilgrims perform Umrah first and then go on to perform the rituals of Hajj. People who perform Hajj this type of pilgrimage are called Mutamatti. In Tamattu, people take off their Ihram after performing Umrah and then take it back on the 8th of Zil Hajj.
  2. Hajj Al-Qiran: Hajj Al-Qiran is the second way of performing Hajj in which Muslims perform both Umrah and Hajj without any break. People who perform Hajj Al-Qiran are called Qaarin. Muslims in this type of Hajj cannot relinquish their Ihram. Once they enter into Ihram they can relinquish it only after the Day of Sacrifice at Mina. The intention in Qiran needs to be of performing Hajj and Umrah together.
  3. Hajj Al-Ifraad: this is the third way of performing Hajj. In this type of Hajj, Muslims perform all the rituals related to Hajj only. Rituals related to Umrah are not performed in Hajj Al-Ifraad. People who offer Al-Ifraad are called Mufrid. In this Hajj, pilgrims enter into Ihram only with the intention of Hajj and relinquish it on the Day of Sacrifice. In Al-Ifraad, there is no requirement of sacrificing animals as well.

How to Perform Hajj Step-by-Step

In this article, we will be describing steps to perform Hajj Al-Tamattu as it is the most common way of performing Hajj. The process of Hajj starts by performing Umrah.

Step 1: Performing Umrah

There are four rituals that need to be observed in Umrah and they are.

  1. Putting on Ihram: Before putting on Ihram, pilgrims need to take bath, wear the white sheets that constitute Ihram and offer two units of optional prayers by covering their heads. After this, the pilgrims make their Niyyah (Intention to perform Umrah) and recite Talbiya. Pilgrims then enter Masjid al-Haram and after seeing the Ka’bah at first sight, say Allahu Akbar and recite La Illaaha Illal’lah three times and recite Durud Sharif for Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.).
  2. Performing Tawaf: In Tawaf, pilgrims circle around the Holy Ka’bah seven times. Men need to ensure that their Ihram is managed properly and the upper sheet is going under the right arm on to the left shoulder while exposing the right shoulder. While facing the Ka’bah, pilgrims make another Niyyah to perform Tawaf of Umrah to please the Almighty Allah. After this, the pilgrims circle the Ka’bah seven times while praying. Once the seven circles are completed, men can cover their right shoulder.
  3. Perform Sa’ey: Sa’ey is the process of running/walking back and forth seven times from the hills of Safa and Marwah that are situated on the North and South of Ka’bah. The process of Sa’ey is completed at the end of the seventh trip after which pilgrims offer 2 rakat Nafal prayers.
  4. Halq/Qasar: In Halq/Qasar the male pilgrims shave their head completely or trim their hair. However, it is advised to shave the head completely. Women, on the other hand are not required to shave their head but they have to cut down their hair by about an inch. Umrah is completed with the process of haircutting after which pilgrims can remove their Irham and can start wearing their normal clothes. However, they will need to put on the Irham once again for Hajj.

Step 2: Performing Hajj and its Procedure Day Wise

After the completion of Umrah, Hajj commences on the 8th of Zil Hajj. If there is some time in between Umrah and Hajj then pilgrims spend their time praying in Makkah and Madinah as they also visit historical places. 8th of Zil Hajj starts after the Maghrib prayers of 7th Zil Hajj after which pilgrims start to make preparations for the five days that are defined as the toughest days of the visit.
8th of Zil Hajj
Pilgrims start their preparations in the same way they did for Umrah. They will comb hair, trip their mustache, remove unwanted hair from the body, take bath, do niyyah, wear Ihram, and recite Talbiya. Pilgrims will start to move towards Mina from Azizia after the Fajr prayers on 8th Zil Hajj. In Mina, the pilgrims will offer Zuhr, Asar, Maghrib, and Isha prayers and stay overnight in Mina. Separate tents for men and women are provided in order to stay overnight in Mina.
9th of Zil Hajj
After spending the night in Mina, pilgrims will pray the Fajar prayers and will then leave for the ground of Arafat. After arrival in Arafat, pilgrims offer Zuhar and Asar prayers combined called Zuhrain. During the stay in Arafat, pilgrims are advised to spend most of their times seeking forgiveness and mercy from the Almighty Allah during Hajj prayers.
At the time of sunset, pilgrims start moving towards Muzdalfah reciting Talbiya and other prayers. After reaching Muzdalfah, combined Maghrib and Isha prayer is offered. Pilgrims spend the night in Muzdalfah and collect 49 pebbles for Rami (throwing stones at Shaitan). After offering the Fajar prayers on 10th of Zil Hajj, pilgrims start to move towards Mina at sunrise.
10th of Zil Hajj (First Day of Eid-ul-Azha)
After returning back to Mina, pilgrims perform Rami in which seven stones are thrown at Jamrat-ul-Kubra. The Rami process can get extremely crowded hence it is advised that elderly or sick people can throw stones later in the day.
Once Rami is completed, pilgrims offer sacrifice of animal. For Qurbani, pilgrims can either sacrifice a goat, sheep, or a cow and camel shared with other people. Qurbani can be done on the 2nd and 3rd day of Eid as well i.e. 11th and 12th of Zil Hajj. After the Qurbani, men shave their head just like they do it for Umrah while women also cut their hair.
Pilgrims are free to remove their Ihram now and can resume wearing their normal dresses. Tawafal-al-Ifada is performed along with Sa’ey just like the pilgrims performed Umrah. Once completed, pilgrims return to Mina to spend the night.
11th of Zil Hajj (Second Day of Eid-ul-Adha)
Pilgrims move towards Jamarat again for Rami. They will stone the three Jamrats i.e. Jamrat-e-Sughra, Jamrat-e-Wusta, and Jamrat-e-Qubra) with seven stones each. After completing the process, pilgrims make their way back to Mina to spend the night there.
12th of Zil Hajj (Third Day of Eid-ul-Adha & Last day of Hajj)
On the last day of Hajj, pilgrims go for Rami for the last time and then leave for Makkah before sunset. A final Tawaf called Tawaf-ul-Wida is also performed by the pilgrims before leaving for Makkah. With the final Tawaf, all the rituals of Hajj are completed and pilgrims can then spend the rest of time in Makkah and Madinah praying and doing Ziarats (visiting historical places)

Hajj Packing List

Going for Hajj, one needs to make sure that the required packing for Hajj has been done and nothing is missed out. There are some key Hajj essentials that cannot be missed out for both men and women. Here’s a packing checklist for both men and women that can be helpful for Hajj.

Body and hand towels to wipe off sweatBody and hand towels to wipe off sweat
Prayer RugHair tie-backs
Bag to hold water bottles and other essentialsTennis
Pocket QuranFlip flops
SocksHand wash/sanitizers
Waist PouchBag to hold water bottles and other essentials
MedicinesPrayer Rug
Comfortable shoesPocket Quran (can be kept in the pocket of Abaya)

Do’s and Don’ts of Hajj

While performing Hajj, it is very important that pilgrims refrain from certain activities that are not in accordance with the guidance of Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.). Here are some of the do’s and don’ts of Hajj.

  1. Abide by all the religious things that Almighty Allah has asked us to do like praying in congregation.
  2. Avoid the things that are forbidden in Islam including any sexual activity with wife/husband. Any dispute or sin during Hajj is not justified to Almighty Allah.
  3. Entering into a marriage contract
  4. Use of perfume is not allowed on Ihram, clothes, and body. Use of perfumed soap is also forbidden.
  5. Annoying other pilgrims during the Holy rituals is not allowed.
  6. Pilgrims need to ensure that their head is covered all the time.
  7. Pilgrims are advised not to lose patience as Hajj is really tiring and is not an easy job. Avoid getting into an argument with other people.
  8. Wearing sewn clothes is not allowed during Hajj.
  9. Hunting (killing of animals) is not allowed during Hajj.

Shopping During Hajj

While coming back from Hajj, pilgrims take different things back home for their family and friends. Some of the basic things that they can shop for while they perform Hajj include

  • Ajwa Khujoor
  • Tasbeeh
  • Prayer Mats
  • Itar
  • Head scarfs
  • Aab-e-Zamzam