Reported by: The Voice of UK (Saudi Arabia)
In the Saudi Arabia Millions of Muslims make their way to Holy Kaaba to perform Hajj. Hajj is the fifth Pillar of Islam which is the Sunnah of Prophet Hazrat Ibrahim (alayhi salam). The pilgrimage is made up of actions performed by Prophet Hazrat Muhammed (sallallahu alaihi wasallam).
History of Hajj
For Muslims, Hajj re-enacts the actions of Prophet Muhammad’s (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) “farewell pilgrimage” in 632 AD. Hajj is the fifth and final pillar of Islam but is only a requirement for those who are able to afford the trip and are physically strong enough to complete the pilgrimage.
Muslims perform Hajj with the aim to cleanse their souls and revive their relationship with ALLAH. It is also meant to strengthen the bonds among Muslims, since pilgrims come from the four corners of the earth for the pilgrimage.
A significant aspect of Hajj is that itremoves all markers of class, wealth and materialism, which is why the pilgrims dress in simple cloth for the duration of the pilgrimage. Men wrap themselves in two pieces of white cloth called the ihram, which also means the sacred state.
Hajj also hearkens back to the time of Hazrat Ibrahim (alayhi salam). Muslims believe that he built the Holy kaaba, along with his son Hazrat Ismail (alayhi salam).
Importance of Hajj in Islam:
Holy Qur’an says in a short and meaningful sentence:
وَ لِلّه عَلَى النّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَیْتِ مَنِ اسْتَطاعَ اِلَیْهِ سَبیلاً.
“It is on people for the sake of Allah to perform Hajj of his house, anyone who is able to undertake the journey to him. (2:196)”
In the Islamic calendar, Hajj begins every year on the 8th of the month in Zill-Hajj.
How do Muslims perform Hajj?
1. Pilgrims enter ihram: a sacred state that includes controlling one’s baser instincts, such as anger, and maintaining a state of purity.
2. Head to Mina: an area outside of Mecca, where they stay in tents and spend the days leading up to Arafah in prayer and worship.
3. Spend the day at Arafah: The pilgrims head there and spend their time in prayer and worship until sunset.
4. Spend the night at Muzdalifah: on their way back to Mina, pilgrims stop at a place called Muzdalifah they pray the evening prayers and collect pebbles for another ritual.
5. Celebrate Eid al-Adha: During hajj, the pilgrims can pay to have a lamb sacrificed or go to a specific area outside of Mecca where they could partake in the symbolic ritual.
6. Throw pebbles at the three pillars: This action signifies another trial that Prophet Hazrat Ibrahim (alayhi salam) endured. Muslims believe that on his way to the sacrifice, Satan tried to deter Prophet Hazrat Ibrahim (alayhi salam) from the act, so Prophet Hazrat Ibrahim (alayhi salam) threw stones at the devil to fend him off.
7. Make tawaf at Mecca: circle around the kaaba, which includes supplication and remembering ALLAH.
The following figures shows the top 10 countries who have the highest numbers of Hajj pilgrims in 2017:
1. Indonesia – 221,000
2. Pakistan – 179,210
3. India – 170,000
4. Bangladesh – 127,198
5. Egypt – 108,000
6. Iran – 86,500
7. Nigeria – 79,000
8. Turkey – 79,000
9. Algeria – 36,000
10. Morocco – 31,000