Step-by-Step Guide to Performing Hajj: A Comprehensive Journey Through the Rituals and Significance

Discovering the Meaning of Hajj: The Sacred Pilgrimage

Hajj, the annual pilgrimage, draws millions of Muslims from around the globe each year. It represents the fifth pillar of Islam and holds immense spiritual significance. Hajj occurs in Makkah, situated in present-day Saudi Arabia, during the holy month of Dhul Hijjah, the twelfth month in the Islamic lunar calendar.

It is both a spiritual obligation and a fundamental tenet of Islam, mandating that every financially, physically, and emotionally capable Muslim perform Hajj at least once in their lifetime. Repeating the pilgrimage is permissible for those sincerely seeking Allah’s pleasure.

Allah, in the Quran, states:

“And [due] to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House – for whoever can find to it away. But whoever disbelieves – then indeed, Allah is free from need of the worlds.” 

(Qur’an 3:97)

For individuals preparing for Hajj, it represents a momentous occasion filled with spiritual significance and anticipation. For many Muslims, the first Hajj experience is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Hajj tests patience, temperament, and faith—a journey that encompasses spiritual, emotional, and physical challenges. However, it offers participants the chance to renew their spiritual selves, seek forgiveness for their sins, and draw closer to Allah.

As Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) stated:

“Whoever performs Hajj for the sake of Allah and does not utter any obscene speech or do any evil deed will go back (free of sin) as his mother bore him.” 

(Hadith | Bukhari and Muslim)

Hajj occurs annually between the 8th and 12th of Dhul Hijjah, following the Islamic lunar calendar, resulting in varied corresponding dates in the Gregorian calendar. According to the Gregorian calendar, the Hajj will occur between June 14th and 19th in 2024.

This comprehensive Hajj guide aims to provide insight into various aspects of the sacred pilgrimage, from its historical origins to the practicalities of performing Hajj.

The Genesis of Hajj

While Hajj’s practice was introduced to Muslims by Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), its origins trace back to the teachings of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) thousands of years earlier. Prophet Muhammad initiated the Hajj in 628 CE during Dhul Hijjah, a tradition that continues today.

However, Dhul Hijjah also held significance for the pre-Islamic pagan Arabs, who observed a sacred month during which fighting was prohibited and pilgrimage to the Kaaba—a cubic structure in Masjid al-Haram, housing pagan idols—was customary. The Kaaba, known to Muslims as Baitullah or ‘the House of God,’ was constructed by Prophet Ibrahim (AS) at Allah’s command. It symbolizes the monotheistic faith upheld by Muslims.

Hajar, Isma’il (AS), and the Well of Zamzam

Prophet Ibrahim (AS), revered as Khalilullah or ‘the friend of Allah,’ encountered numerous trials during his prophethood, serving as lessons in devotion, sacrifice, and faith.

One such trial involved leaving his wife Hajar and son Isma’il (AS) in the desolate desert of Makkah, per Allah’s instruction. In their dire need, Allah miraculously provided them with the Well of Zamzam, a source of sustenance and prosperity.

The Construction of the Kaaba

Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and his son Isma’il (AS) collaborated to build the Kaaba, a sacred space for Muslims to gather and worship Allah. Thus, Hajj traces its origins back to Prophet Ibrahim (AS), with its rituals and practices continuing to be observed by Muslims worldwide.

The Inception of Hajj

Over time, the site of the Kaaba evolved into a prosperous settlement, eventually becoming a center for trade and idol worship. However, with the advent of Islam and Muhammad’s prophethood (peace and blessings be upon him), the Kaaba was restored to its original purpose, and the Hajj was reinstated as a pillar of faith.

The first Hajj was performed by Prophet Muhammad in 632 CE, reaffirming the traditions established by Prophet Ibrahim.

Hajj As We Experience It Today

Today, more than 2.5 million Muslims from diverse backgrounds journey to Makkah every year during the month of Dhul Hijjah to stand unified before Allah (SWT) and fulfill the rituals of Hajj.

For some, performing Hajj is a lifelong aspiration, requiring years of savings, while others may have the privilege of undertaking the pilgrimage multiple times. Regardless of one’s journey, the month of Dhul Hijjah holds immense blessings for Muslims worldwide. During this sacred time, Muslims can strive for spiritual rewards like those attained during Hajj. Learn more about the significance of Dhul Hijjah here.

Who Qualifies for Hajj?

Hajj is one of Islam’s five pillars, obligating all Muslims to perform it at least once in their lifetime.

The five pillars of Islam:

  1. Shahada (Profession of Faith): Affirming belief in God’s oneness and Muhammad’s prophethood (peace and blessings be upon him).
  2. Salah (Prayer): Observing the five daily prayers.
  3. Zakat (Almsgiving): Providing financial assistance to needy people.
  4. Sawm (Fasting): Fasting during the month of Ramadan.
  5. Hajj (Pilgrimage): Undertaking the pilgrimage to Makkah.

However, certain conditions must be met to perform Hajj:

  1. Only Muslim adults, regardless of gender, are obligated to perform Hajj. Children are not required to undertake the pilgrimage.
  2. Individuals physically weak, sick, elderly, or unable to perform the pilgrimage are exempt.
  3. Financial capability is a prerequisite for Hajj. Those in debt are only obliged to perform Hajj once settled, with priority given to debt repayment. However, individuals in debt may still perform Hajj if their creditor permits, they have a feasible repayment plan, and Hajj does not impede debt repayment.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Performing Hajj

Every year, approximately 25,000 Muslims from the UK embark on the sacred journey to Makkah, joining pilgrims from around the world in unity.

If you’re among these pilgrims embarking on the sacred pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, read on! We’ve compiled a comprehensive step-by-step Hajj guide to assist you on this blessed journey.

The 19 Steps of Hajj at a Glance

  1. Preparation and Intention
  2. Entering the state of Ihram
  3. Tawaf (circumambulation around the Kaaba) x7
  4. Sa’i (ritual walking between Safa and Marwa)
  5. Clipping or Shaving the Hair (completion of Umrah)
  6. Resting and Prayer
  7. Re-entering the state of Ihram
  8. Arrival at Mina
  9. Day of ‘Arafah
  10. Muzdalifah (overnight stay)
  11. Rami (stoning of the devil)
  12. Offering Sacrifice (Hady)
  13. Shaving of the Head
  14. Tawaf al-Ifadah
  15. Sa’i (ritual walking)
  16. Rami (stoning of the devil)
  17. Overnight stay at Mina
  18. Rami (stoning of the devil)
  19. Farewell Tawaf (circumambulation around the Kaaba)

When to Perform Hajj?

In Islamic tradition, the Hajj occurs annually between the 8th and 12th of Dhul Hijjah in the lunar calendar, corresponding to different dates in the Gregorian calendar each year due to the lunar calendar’s shift.

Hajj pilgrims from the UK typically travel to Saudi Arabia by air, land, or sea in the days and weeks leading up to the pilgrimage period, arriving in cities such as Jeddah or Medina before proceeding to Makkah with their Hajj groups.

How to Perform Hajj

Hajj offers three distinct forms: Tamattu, Ifraad, and Qiran. For this guide, we’ll focus on the Tamattu form, as Prophet Muhammad advocates (peace and blessings be upon him).

Let’s delve into the 19 steps of Hajj:

1. Preparation and Intention

Before setting foot in Makkah for Hajj, establish your intention (niyyah) within. Your intention should solely revolve around pleasing Allah, devoid of worldly motives.

2. Entering the State of Ihram

Upon arrival, don the simple attire of Ihram: two white clothes for men and a modest dress for women, ensuring adherence to the rules of modesty.

3. Tawaf x 7

Embark on Tawaf, circling the Kaaba seven times counterclockwise, commencing and concluding at the Black Stone.

4. Safa and Marwa

Undertake Sa’i, traversing between Safa and Marwa seven times to commemorate Hajar’s struggle for water.

5. Clip/Shave Hair (Umrah Ends)

Conclude Umrah by clipping or shaving the hair, marking the transition out of Ihram until the 8th of Dhul Hijjah.

6. Resting and Praying

Relax in Makkah, engaging in worship and reflection as you prepare for the subsequent stages of Hajj.

7. Re-entering State of Ihram (Day 1/8th Dhul Hijjah)

Reignite your spiritual journey by re-entering Ihram, adhering strictly to its regulations.

8. Arrive at Mina

Settle into Mina’s tent city, devoting time to prayer, reflection, and spiritual devotion.

9. Day of ‘Arafah (Day 2/9th Dhul Hijjah)

Embark on the solemn pilgrimage to the plains of ‘Arafah, praying Allah’s forgiveness and blessings.

10. Arrive in Muzdalifah

Transition to Muzdalifah after sunset, offering Maghrib and ‘Isha prayers combined and a restful night under the open sky. Remember, Hajj is not merely a physical journey but a profound spiritual odyssey. Approach each step with reverence and humility, seeking Allah’s grace and guidance.

Performing Hajj: Step by Step

11. Rami and Hady (Day 3/10th Dhul Hijjah & start of Eid al-Adha)

On the 10th of Dhul Hijjah, known as Yawm al-Nahr or the Day of Sacrifice, after Fajr Salah, pilgrims return from Muzdalifah to Mina, continuously reciting the Talbiyah. This day marks the Hady (sacrificial animal) offering and the commencement of the “stoning of the devil” ritual, or Rami. Muslims worldwide also observe Qurbani during this time, inaugurating the four-day Eid al-Adha festival.

Origin Of Rami (The Stoning Of The Devil)

Rami, the stoning of the Jamarat, symbolizes Ibrahim’s (AS) defiance of Iblis during his trial. Pilgrims hurl pebbles at three pillars in Mina for three days, reflecting Ibrahim’s (AS) dismissal of Iblis’s temptations.

How To Perform The Rami (The Stoning Of The Devil)

From the 10th to the 12th of Dhul Hijjah, pilgrims perform Rami, using pebbles of date stone size. Each day, specific quantities of pebbles are thrown at designated pillars while reciting Takbir.

12. Qurbani and Eid al-Adha

Eid al-Adha, celebrated on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah, commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s (AS) obedience to Allah’s command to sacrifice his son Isma’il (AS). Muslims worldwide partake in Qurbani, symbolizing Ibrahim’s (AS) devotion to Allah (SWT).

13. Shaving The Head (Day 4/11th Dhul Hijjah)

After Hady, males shave their heads, emulating Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) practice, while females trim their hair. This signifies the end of Ihram, allowing the resumption of normal activities except sexual intimacy.

14 & 15. Tawaf al-Ifadha and Saai’ (Day 5/12th Dhul Hijjah)

Pilgrims proceed to Makkah to perform Tawaf al-Ifadha and Saai’ as part of their Hajj rituals. These rites must follow Rami, Qurbani, and head shaving or trimming. After completion, pilgrims may engage in lawful activities, including marital relations.

16. The Second Day of Rami

On the 11th of Dhul Hijjah, pilgrims resume Rami, pelting each of the three pillars, starting with Jamarah al-Ula. Du’a is made facing the qibla after the first and second pillars.

17. Spend the night in Mina

After the second Rami, pilgrims return to their Mina camp for worship and reflection.

18. The Third Day of Rami

On the afternoon of the 12th of Dhul Hijjah, pilgrims perform the final Rami, repeating the steps from the previous day.

19. Tawaf al-Wida (The Farewell Tawaf)

Before departing Makkah, pilgrims complete the obligatory farewell Tawaf, which consists of seven circuits. According to Islamic tradition, this marks the conclusion of the Hajj.

Hajj Mabrook! For those unable to perform Hajj, the ten days of Dhul Hijjah offer ample opportunities for worship and good deeds. Fast and remember Allah abundantly during this blessed time.

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