Hajj: What is the Hajj? Hajj (Pilgrimage) is the fifth pillar of Islam. Literally, it means the intention of going on pilgrimage. It was made obligatory on believers with sufficient money on a ninth year of Hijrat. Allah Almighty mentions in his holy Quran that;
- ‘Pilgrimage thereto is a duty man owe to Allah, those who can afford the journey’ [Aal Imran 3:97]
Hajj basically is a form of Ibadah, an all-embracing act of worship where Muslims from all over the world visit the holy Ka’abah and perform all acts that proceed it and are hence mandatory or Sunnah. Hajj is done in the month of Dhul Hajjah (the last month of Islamic calendar). It starts on 8th Dhul hajjah and ends on 12th/13th of Dhul hajjah. The obligation of hajj on Muslims was highlighted by our prophet when he said;
‘He, who is not prevented from performing the pilgrimage by an obvious necessity, a tyrannical ruler, or a disease which confines him at home, and dies without having performed the pilgrimage, may die if he wishes a Jew or a Christian’ [Tirmidhi]
History of Hajj
The history of Hajj can be traced back to a thousand years to the time of Hazrat Ibrahim around 2000BCE. He was ordered by Allah Almighty to leave his wife Hajrah and son Ismail in a desert. On his way, the devil decided to distract him and to convince him to disobey Allah’s command.
In response to this, he stoned the devil. On the other hand, in the desert, Ismail got very thirsty and in search of water, his mother ran 7 times on the hill of Safa and Marwa.
Later when she came back to her son she saw him rubbing his leg against the ground and a water spring emerging from his action. That spring of water is called Ab-e-Zam Zam. Later when Ibrahim returned he was commanded by Allah Almighty to build Ka’abah and to invite people for pilgrimage.
Later on Allah Almighty commanded Ibrahim to slaughter his son Ismail in the way of his lord. He did so but just when he was about to sacrifice his son in the way of Allah, a sheep was sent down by Allah Almighty and that was slaughtered instead. Allah Almighty was so pleased by the actions of Ibrahim that he incorporated all these acts into one act we know as Hajj. The stoning of the devil is now still done by pilgrims on 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th-day od Dhul Hajj as Rami. Also running between the hills of Safa and Marwa is a part of this holy worship too as Sa’i. Prophet Ibrahim was the one who set the stone for this holy worship which is done even after 1000’s of years.
The pilgrimage was made obligatory at the time pf prophet by Allah Almighty. At that time dark ages were prevailing and the holy Ka’abah was full of idols made by the non-believers. And so in 630 CE Holy prophet went to Ka’abah and destroyed all idols. Prophet taught Muslims the rites and importance of hajj. From that time Hajj became obligatory and the last pillar of Islam. Hajj in those times was quite a difficult task as there weren’t many developments and comforts then. But now many steps have been taken to
Hajj is approaching fast and it’s high time we start preparing for it as the preparation for hajj to will count as Ibadah. Every Muslim wonders these days about when is Hajj. This year, for hajj, Hajj dates will fall on Friday, September 9 and will end on Wednesday, September 14. Every year the dates are different according to the Gregorian calendar. This is because Islamic calendar depends on whenever the moon is sighted and it is sometimes either on 29th or 39th of a month’s last day.
This cause changes in events according to Gregorian calendar. Hence, Hajj falls in different months on different dates and days. Obviously, the Gregorian dates that correspond the hajj dates are estimates according to the astronomical calculations. The first day of hajj start on 8th Dhul-Hajjah, (for hajj, Gregorian date is September 9) where pilgrims process to Mina, the second day that is 9th Dhul Hajjah (for hajj, August 19) pilgrims proceed to Arafat and Muzdalifah and then on 10th day of Dhul-hajjah (for hajj September 11) that is, pilgrims return to Mina where they do Rami, sacrifice of animal, hair removal etc. On 11th, the 12th day of Dhul hajjah pilgrims stone the devil that is Rami and then if they are still there on the 13th day of dhul hajjah thenhey stone the devil on 13th too and finally they perform the obligatory part of hajj that is Tawaf e widah. Without which hajj is not complete.
How to Perform Hajj 2016
It is very necessary for you to know about how to perform Hajj. It is a step by step process. The first and the most important step is to wear ihram and enter the conditions of hajj. The place they enter the conditions of hajj is called Miqat. Muslims then go to Makkah to perform Tawaf e Qudoom followed by Saee. On the 8th day of Dhul Hajj, Hajj actually starts. Pilgrims go to Mina and stay there until the sunrise of the nest day.
After offering Fajr in Mina they go to Mount Arafat where they spend the pray worshipping their lord and asking for his forgiveness. After sunset, pilgrims go to muzdalifah where they perform maghrib and isha together and spend whole night worshipping their creator. Here they also collect pebbles for stoning the devils next day. That is the 10th day of Dhul hajj also the first day of eid al adha and the third day of hajj. On this day Pilgrims also cut their hair, women cut a lock while men shave their heads. Also, sacrifices of animals are also done by all pilgrims. The three days of Eid al-Adha are spent stoning the devils and sacrificing animals. When pilgrims are ready to leave they perform tawaf al widah which is wajib and without which hajj is rendered invalid.
So, it is very important for all of Muslims to know the best practice of Hajj and follow all Hajj steps carefully. For all the lucky Muslims travelling for hajj in, it is necessary to collect basic hajj info before going to avoid any problems. Because if you are not aware of what Is hajj all about then everything is a waste. Your money, time, wealth, comfort etc. For your hajj to be accepted by Allah Almighty you need to be fully aware of the essence of hajj. Prophet Mohammad in this context said;
‘An accepted pilgrimage has got no rewards except paradise'[ Agreed]
What Hajj is about and how it pleases Allah? Muslims, if your intention is to show off your financial position then stop right here right now. Because our beloved prophet said; ‘All actions are judged by intentions’. Allah does not need your hajj for all the money you spend on making it lavish. It’s nothing about money and all about the connection, you build with your Lord over there. The connection that becomes unbreakable even after your return. The feeling that there are barriers between your lord and you are pure bliss. The hold those simple 6 to 7 days have on you becomes your ultimate ticket to Jannah. It is quite possible that hajj might be your last hajj of life. So perform this Ibadah with all your sincerity and all the energies you can muster.
Benefits of Hajj
Hajj is the best training Islam offers a believer in all forms, profound, powerful, sacred and serene in nature. As a fact, hajj trains the Muslim for all aspects of his life. The first and foremost training are that a Muslim sacrifices his wealth, peace, home and family in the way of Allah. It teaches him that nothing comes first before Allah Almighty. Everything is second only to him. At the time of Hajj millions of Muslims interact with Allah Almighty in a way they never do for all year. A Muslim give in all his power, energies and efforts to please his Allah Almighty, to gain his pleasure and make him happy. The comfort a Muslim forgoes for his Allah Almighty is the best part of this worship as the Muslim gets to know that for all the worldly pleasure he seeks, nothing would make his Allah happy as a fact the only act that makes Allah happy is when a Muslim forgoes his comfort and luxuries and join his fellow believers in a completely humble act. The form of worship where there is no discrimination. Be it rich or poor, white or black all are same in eyes of Allah Almighty. Only the one with greater taqwa or piety is superior in the eyes of Allah Almighty. Hajj is the only way you can get rid of all the sins you have ever committed in your life. With regards to this the prophet said;
‘The person who came on pilgrimage to the house of Allah, then neither committed an indecent sexual act nor indulged in any disobedience of Allah, he will return home as he was on the day his mother bore him’ [Agreed].
What a wonderful opportunity Allah has for his beloved believers. The people who are part of hajj should count themselves lucky and avail this precious chance of winning over their lord. The amazing chance to get rid of every heinous act you have ever done in your life can never be missed. And here comes our ultimate test and training by Allah Almighty who teaches us in 6 to 7 short days what life is all about and that everything will end one day. Muslims give sacrifice to attain the pleasure and approval of Allah Almighty which is the greatest form of Jihad, the rewards it holds can’t be imagined by us and the one who manages to abstain from evil and do all the rites properly will emerge successfully, that is a sin free, pure man.
Other than spiritual benefits there are political and social benefits of hajj. The Muslims assemble every year in Makkah which provides the Muslim leaders to discuss their problems and forms a plan that can be followed by Muslim countries in the UNO, the security council or others mediums. Also when millions of Muslims come together on one platform, brotherhood like never is promoted. Everyone stands equal, shoulder to shoulder no matter how vast the differences between with just one intention of pleasing Allah Almighty. This promotes harmony and peace in the world. Muslims are able to interact with their fellow brothers and hence come to know about their plight and try to help each other. This creates unity and unity is the most important thing the Muslims of today need.
Hajj in those times was quite a difficult task as there weren’t many developments and comforts then. But now many steps have been taken to make this worship easy for Muslim Ummah. Especially for people part of hajj, they will know the tireless work that has been done by the government of Saudi Arabia.
For hajj, the Saudi government is putting in a lot of efforts to make the hajj easy for the pilgrims considering the problems that were faced by pilgrims in 2015. For instance, they have introduced bracelets to ensure the safety of pilgrims who are participating in hajj. These bracelets will help the authorities in identifying people and helping them if in danger. A thousand cameras are installed to watch the proceedings and to eliminate the chances of any mishap by any means possible. Also, the extension is also done in places to accommodate the growing no of pilgrims.
May Allah be pleased by all the pilgrims who are part of Hajj and accept their sacrifice and hardships and give all of the Muslims community who are not part of hajj an opportunity to go visit their lord the next year. In Sha Allah.