Hajj (الحج)

Hajj (حَج), is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to MeccaSaudi Arabia, the holiest city for Muslims. Hajj is 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 of supporting their family during their absence from home.

In Islamic terminology, Hajj is a pilgrimage made to the Kaaba, the “House of Allah”, in the sacred city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, alongside Shahadah (oath to Allah & Muhammad “The messenger of Allah”), salat (prayer), zakat (almsgiving) and sawm (fasting of Ramadan).

The Hajj is an annual practice when Muslim brotherhood is on display and their solidarity with fellow Muslim people, and submission to Allah is fulfilled. The word Hajj means “pilgrimage made to the Kaaba” a long pious journey taken by Muslims to cleanse their souls of all worldly sins, which connotes both the outward act of a journey after death and the inward act of good intentions. The rites of pilgrimage are performed over five to six days, extending from the 8th to the 12th or 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. In 2023 AD (1444 AH), Dhu al-Hijjah extends from 19 June to 18 July.

The Hajj is associated with the life of Islamic prophet Muhammad from the 7th century AD, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca stated in Muslim sources stretch back to the time of Abraham. During Hajj, pilgrims join processions of millions of muslim people, who simultaneously converge on Mecca for the week of the Hajj, and perform a series of pre-Islamic rituals (reformed by Muhammad): each person wears a single piece of unstitched white clothing (Ihram), walks counter-clockwise seven times around the Kaaba (a cube-shaped building and the direction of prayer for Muslims), kiss the black stone mounted on the corner wall of Kaaba, walks briskly back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwah seven times, then 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 a cattle (which can be accomplished by using a voucher), the pilgrims then are required to either shave or trim their heads (if male) or trim the ends of their hair (if female). A celebration of the four-day global festival of Eid al-Adha proceeds afterwards.

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