Hajj (Arabic: حج ) is a holy pilgrimage to Mecca that is obligatory for all Muslims who can afford to go. The 3rd chapter of the Quran, Surah Ale-Imran makes Hajj mandatory. During this pilgrimage, Muslims try to get closer to God. The Hajj is performed in the last month of the Islamic calendar, Dhul-Hijjah. All Muslims who can afford to go on the Hajj are required to do so at least once in their life. The purpose includes worshiping God and interact with Muslims who congregate for the Hajj from all around the world (Quran, 2:26-27).
Muslims believe that the Prophet Abraham built the Ka'aba with his son Ismael. Kaaba is a sacred cube-shaped shrine at the centre Al-Masjid al-Haram mosque, in Mecca (Saudi Arabia). Muslims walk around the Ka'bah seven times as part of the Hajj. Muslims face to pray in the direction of the Ka'bah no matter where they are in the world. It was the first house built solely for the purpose of worshipping God. To be completed, the Hajj requires a minimum of five days, during which pilgrims travel across Arabia to complete various rituals, some of which are optional, but considered highly beneficial.
- According to Sahih Bukhari (one of the six main hadith writings of Sunni Islam), the Prophet Muhammad once said that those who finish the Hajj without committing any obscenity or transgression will have their sins completely wiped away.
- It is believed that to teach Muslims to remain humble and unified, God mandated the Hajj. During it, everyone wears the same clothes, prays together, and goes around the Ka'bah together.
- All male pilgrims wear the ihram, a garment that is made of two pieces of unstitched clothing. They are forbidden from wearing anything that has stitches in it, clothes that cover their ankles, or anything that cover their heads. All female pilgrims are forbidden from wearing anything to cover their faces or hands.
- Muslims on the Hajj are also forbidden from having sexual intercourse, proposing marriage, cutting their hair or nails, and killing animals.
- According to the Saudi Arabian Embassy, the Hajj is the largest gathering of human beings on the Earth.
Hajj Top Events and Things to Do
- If you are Muslim, go on a Hajj pilgrimage or attend the smaller Umrah.
- Visit the mountains of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah in Mecca. Pilgrims walk between two hills, Safa and Marwa, seven times during the Hajj because they believe that Hagar, the wife of Abraham, did the same when looking for water for her thirsty baby Ismael. As soon as she finished her seventh run, the Zamzam well sprung out from under baby Ismael's foot. To this day, pilgrims on the Hajj drink the Zamzam's water, and often take it home with them in large canisters.
- Visit the tower at Jamrat-al-Aqabah (Saudi Arabia). After sunset on the day of Arafah, as part of the Hajj, pilgrims throw small pebbles at Jamrat-al-Aqabah. This is the place where it is believed the Devil stood as he tried to tempt Abraham from carrying out orders from God. This is act commemorates and symbolizes Abraham's rejecting of the devil.