The Hajj – Mecca
The Hajj (/hædʒ/; Arabic: حَجّ Ḥaǧǧ “pilgrimage“) is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest city for Muslims, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their family during their absence. Literally speaking, Hajj means heading to a place for the sake of visiting. In Islamic terminology, Hajj is a pilgrimage made to Kaaba, the ‘House of God’, in the sacred city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The rites of Hajj, which according to Islam go back to the time of Prophet Abraham who re-built Kaaba after it had been first built by Prophet Adam, are performed over five or six days, beginning on the eighth and ending on the thirteenth day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, alongside Shahadah, Salat, Zakat and Sawm. The Hajj is the second largest annual gathering of Muslims in the world, after the Arba’een Pilgrimage in Karbala, Iraq. The state of being physically and financially capable of performing the Hajj is called istita’ah, and a Muslim who fulfils this condition is called a mustati. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God (Allah). The word Hajj means “to attend a journey”, which connotes both the outward act of a journey and the inward act of intentions.
The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th (or in some cases 13th) of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar. Because the Islamic calendar is lunar and the Islamic year is about eleven days shorter than the Gregorian year, the Gregorian date of Hajj changes from year to year. Ihram is the name given to the special spiritual state in which pilgrims wear two white sheets of seamless cloth and abstain from certain actions.
The Hajj (sometimes spelt Hadj, Hadji or Haj also in English) is associated with the life of Islamic prophet Muhammad from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time of Abraham. During Hajj, pilgrims join processions of hundreds of thousands of people, who simultaneously converge on Mecca for the week of the Hajj, and perform a series of rituals: each person walks counter-clockwise seven times around the Kaaba (the cube-shaped building and the direction of prayer for the Muslims), runs back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwah, drinks from the Zamzam Well, goes to the plains of Mount Arafat to stand in vigil, spends a night in the plain of Muzdalifa, and performs symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing stones at three pillars. After the sacrifice of their animal, the Pilgrims then are required to shave their head. Then they celebrate the three-day global festival of Eid al-Adha.
Pilgrims can also go to Mecca to perform the rituals at other times of the year. This is sometimes called the “lesser pilgrimage”, or ‘Umrah (Arabic: عُـمـرَة). However, even if they choose to perform the Umrah, they are still obligated to perform the Hajj at some other point in their lifetime if they have the means to do so, because Umrah is not a substitute for Hajj.
In 2017, the number of pilgrims coming from outside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to perform hajj was officially reported as 1,752,014 and 600,108 Saudi Arabian residents bringing the total number of pilgrims to 2,352,122.
Mecca (/ˈmɛkə/; Arabic: مكة Makkah (Hejazi pronunciation: [ˈmakːa]) is a city in the Hejazi region of the Arabian Peninsula, and the plain of Tihamah in Saudi Arabia, and is also the capital and administrative headquarters of the Makkah Region. The city is located 70 km (43 mi) inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of 277 m (909 ft) above sea level, and 340 kilometres (210 mi) south of Medina. Its resident population in 2012 was roughly 2 million, although visitors more than triple this number every year during the Ḥajj (Arabic: حَـجّ, “Pilgrimage“) period held in the twelfth Muslim lunar month of Dhūl-Ḥijjah (Arabic: ذُو الْـحِـجَّـة).
As the birthplace of Muhammad, and the site of Muhammad’s first revelation of the Quran (specifically, a cave 3 km (2 mi) from Mecca), Mecca is regarded as the holiest city in the religion of Islam and a pilgrimage to it known as the Hajj is obligatory for all able Muslims. Mecca is home to the Kaaba, by majority description Islam’s holiest site, as well as being the direction of Muslim prayer. Mecca was long ruled by Muhammad’s descendants, the sharifs, acting either as independent rulers or as vassals to larger polities. It was conquered by Ibn Saud in 1925. In its modern period, Mecca has seen tremendous expansion in size and infrastructure, home to structures such as the Abraj Al Bait, also known as the Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel, the world’s fourth tallest building and the building with the third largest amount of floor area. During this expansion, Mecca has lost some historical structures and archaeological sites, such as the Ajyad Fortress. Today, more than 15 million Muslims visit Mecca annually, including several million during the few days of the Hajj. As a result, Mecca has become one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the Muslim world,although non-Muslims are prohibited from entering the city.
- January 21, 2020
8:00 am - 5:00 pm
- Home Page