The fifth act of Islamic worship is the performing of the Hajj
or the pilgrimage to Mecca. A Muslim must perform this pilgrimage
at least once in his lifetime if economic and political conditions
are favourable. The focal point of this pilgrimage is the Ka'ba,
which was rebuilt by Prophet Abraham some 4,000 years ago. Today,
the Ka'ba stands in the middle of a large courtyard of Masjid al
Haram or the Sacred Mosque. The courtyard of Masjid al Haram contains,
besides Ka'ba, the Maqam a Ibrahim and the fountain of Zamzam.
The Hajj is performed during the Muslim month of Dhul Hijjah which
comes two months after the festival of Eid
al Fitr. The various
ceremonies of the Hajj include:
- Entering into the state of ihram by wearing only two seamless
white sheets. This is done by the pilgrims when they reach
certain designated places close to Mecca.
- Saying of talbiyah starting at the place where the ihram
is worn. Talbiyah consists of saying aloud the following:
we come, O God, here we come No partner have You, here we come
praise and blessings are Yours, and the Kingdom too No partner
have You, here we come
- On entering Mecca, the pilgrims perform the first tawaf
which consists of going around the Ka'ba seven times in
an anticlockwise direction.
- After completing the tawaf, the pilgrims perform the sa'
yy which consists of running between the two little hills
of Safa and Marwa located near the Ka'ba. These are the two hills
Hajirah ran in search of water when Prophet Abraham had
leave her there on Divine command.
- After performing the sa' yy, the pilgrims move to Mina,
a plain located about four miles east of Mecca, and spend
- Next morning, the pilgrims leave for the Plain of Arafat
located nine miles southeast of Mecca. They arrive there
in the early afternoon, say the combined Zuhr and Asr Prayers
to a sermon given by the Imam. The pilgrims stay in the
Plain of Arafat only till sunset. This is the same plain where
Muhammad delivered his farewell sermon.
- After sunset the pilgrims leave Arafat and come to a place
called Muzdalifah. In the Holy Quran, this place is referred
to as al Mash'ar al Haram, the Sacred Monument. On reaching
Muzdalifah, the pilgrims say their combined Maghrib and Isha
the night there. In the morning, after saying the Fajr
Prayer, the pilgrims return to Mina once again.
- The pilgrims reach Mina on the tenth day of Dhul Hijjah.
This is the busiest day of the pilgrimage. The first ceremony
that is performed at Mina is the throwing of small stones
or ramy al
jimar. In this ceremony the pilgrims throw stones at three
pillars in a symbolic act of striking the devil.
- The tenth day of Dhul Hijjah is also the day when pilgrims
sacrifice their animals. This day is also celebrated all
over the Muslim world as the festive day of Eid al Adha.
- After performing the sacrifice the pilgrims have their
heads shaved or their hair clipped. After this they emerge
from the state
of ihram by wearing their everyday clothes.
- Clad in their everyday clothes the pilgrims perform another
tawaf of the Ka'ba. This tawaf is called tawaf e ziarat.
- Before the tenth day of Dhul Hijjah ends, the pilgrims
perform another sa' yy between the hills of Safa and Marwa.
- After this the pilgrims return once again to Mina where
they stay until the twelfth or thirteenth day of Dhul Hijjah.
During these two or three days the pilgrims continue to perform
of ramy al jimar or throwing of stones.
- On the afternoon of the twelfth Dhul Hijjah (or of the
thirteenth) the pilgrims return to Mecca for the last ceremony
of the pilgrimage.
This ceremony consists of the farewell tawaf of the Ka'ba
after which the entire pilgrimage is completed and the pilgrims
free to go wherever they wish.
Although not part of the prescribed pilgrimage, many pilgrims
carry on to Medinah and visit Masjid al Nabvi or the Prophet's
Mosque. It was in the compound of this Mosque that Prophet Muhammad
While the Hajj may only be performed during the prescribed dates
of the month of Dhul Hijjah, a Lesser Pilgrimage called Umrah may
be made individually at any time during the year.