This Holy Country has the honor and privilege of providing integrated services for the pilgrims of Allah’s Inviolable House, for those performing pilgrimage Hajj or Umrah and for all visitors of the Mosque of the Noble Prophet, peace be upon him. Such services like getting prepared to win in any sport with the best uniforms begins from the moment pilgrims set foot in the territory of the Kingdom, till their return to their respective countries. Caring for the needs of pilgrims occupies first priority among the Kingdom’s concerns.
As is declared in the Kingdom’s Governance Statutes, issued in 1414 H., “The State shall assume the responsibility of serving the two Holy Mosques, shall take full care of pilgrims, and shall reconstruct the two Holy Mosques and provide services thereto. It shall provide security and care for the visitors thereof to enable them to perform Hajj, Umrah, and visit the Prophet’s Mosque in peace and tranquility.
|Date:||9 Zul Hajj|
|Location:||Sudia _ Makkha|
|Tawaf:||Seven times pilgrims circle around the Kaaba|
|Hajj-e-Akbar Mening:||It is famous among people that a hajj occurring on Friday|
|Temporary tents:||In Mina|
|Helpline:||HCOI ; 24 X 7|
|first step for any pilgrim:||Ihram|
|performed first Hajj Baitullah:||Hazrat Ibrahim and Hazrat Ismail (A.S)|
|Umrah and Haj:||Two types of pilgrimages that Muslims|
|incidents city during the Hajj :||to the city of Mecca|
|Kingdom’s Governance Statutes:||issued in 1414 H|
|genuflect in its direction during prayers:||world’s 1.3 billion Muslims genuflect|
|faiths traveled to revel at:||the site; in 630 A.D|
|The Hajj:||one of the five pillars of Islam|
|The first day of hajj:||8 Zil Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar|
|Ihram:||the first step for any pilgrim wishing to perform haj|
|Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail:||almost 4, 000 years ago|
The city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia has always been the spiritual center of the Islamic faith: the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims genuflect in its direction during prayers. But in the final months of the year, Islam’s holiest city becomes even more vital, as an estimated 2.5 million pilgrims make their once-in-a-lifetime journey to the site.
This pilgrimage, known as the Hajj, is one of the Five Pillars of Islam (the others are the profession of Allah as the only God and Mohammed as his prophet; fasting during Ramadan; charitable giving and ritual prayer) by which every practicing Muslim must abide. This year, the Hajj starts Nov. 25; it takes place annually between the 8th and 12th days of Dhu-al-Hijjah,the final month of the lunar Islamic calendar, a time when God’s spirit is believed to be closest to earth. (See photos from the Hajj.)
The Hajj consists of a five-day excursion, required by all physically and financially able Muslims, to Mecca and the nearby holy sites of Arafat, Mina, and Muzdalifah. Once there, pilgrims perform a series of rituals to unify themselves with other believers, absolve themselves of their sins and pay tribute to God.
While the Hajj normally attracts pilgrims from all sects of Islam and all walks of life, concerns over swine flu have cast a shadow over this year’s event; the prospect of millions of potential flu carriers mingling in Mecca has given health experts fits. Four early pilgrims have already died from the virus and Saudi officials have enacted a number of measures to combat the spread of the disease. Along with screening for flu-like symptoms at the Jeddah airport and distributing hygiene kits, health ministers have recommended that pregnant women, children and elderly worshipers stay home.
The origins of the Hajj date back to 2,000 B.C. when Ishmael, the infant son of the prophet Ibrahim (Or Abraham, as he is called in the Old Testament) and Ibrahim’s wife Hager were stranded in the desert. With Ishmael close to death from thirst, Hager ran back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwa looking for water until the angel Jibril (Gabriel) touched down to earth and created a spring of fresh water for the baby, known as the Well of Zemzem.
Following the orders of God, Ibrahim is said to have built a monument at the site of the spring known as the Kaaba. Worshipers from all faiths traveled to revel at the site; in 630 A.D., the Prophet Mohammed led a group of Muslims there in the first official Hajj, destroying the idols placed there by polytheistic worshipers and re-dedicating the site in the name of Allah. The path that Mohammed and his followers traveled is retraced as part of the Hajj rituals which include making Hager’s walk between Safa and Marwa, stoning the wall of Satan that tempted Ibrahim to defy God, slaughtering an animal in honor of the sacrifice that Ibrahim made to save his son and climbing the Mount of Arafat from which Mohammed made his last sermon.
The ultimate rite of passage during the Hajj is circling the Kaaba, an immense black cube, spiritually considered by Muslims to be the center of the world, and literally located in the center of the Masjid al-Haram mosque in Mecca. During the Hajj, vast swells of worshippers seeking forgiveness circle the Kaaba counter-clockwise, seven times. Completion of all of the mandated rituals is believed the guarantee the pilgrim a place in heaven as well as the title of hajji (literally, one who has performed the Hajj) — coveted and admired in Muslim communities around the world.
What is the purpose of the Hajj
The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, and all able-bodied Muslims are required to perform it once in their lifetime. The Hajj is seen as a chance to wipe clean past sins and start fresh. Many seek to deepen their faith on the Hajj, with women taking on the Islamic hair covering known as “hijab” upon returning from the pilgrimage.
Despite the physical challenges of the hajj, many people rely on canes or crutches and insist on walking the routes. Those who cannot afford the Hajj are sometimes financed by charities or community leaders. Others save their entire lives to make the journey. A few even walk thousands of miles by foot to Saudi Arabia, taking months to arrive.
- According to Sahih Bukhari (one of the six main hadith writings of Sunni Islam), the Prophet Muhammad once said that those who finish the Hajj without committing any obscenity or transgression will have their sins completely wiped away.
- It is believed that to teach Muslims to remain humble and unified, God mandated the Hajj. During it, everyone wears the same clothes, prays together, and goes around the Ka’bah together.
- All male pilgrims wear the ihram, a garment that is made of two pieces of unstitched clothing. They are forbidden from wearing anything that has stitches in it, clothes that cover their ankles, or anything that cover their heads. All female pilgrims are forbidden from wearing anything to cover their faces or hands.
- Muslims on the Hajj are also forbidden from having sexual intercourse, proposing marriage, cutting their hair or nails, and killing animals.
- According to the Saudi Arabian Embassy, the Hajj is the largest gathering of human beings on the Earth
“Prophet Ibrahim preached the oneness of God, a message that was later revived and renewed by the last of all Prophets, Muhammad (peace be upon him),” Sayed told Al Arabiya News.
“Ibrahim, along with his son Ismail built the Kaaba in the holy city of Makkah. And accordingly, this pillar reflects the notion of complete submission to Allah and the Abrahamic faith.”
For many pilgrims, hajj is perceived to be a journey of the body and the soul at the same time.
The first day of hajj is 8 Zil Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar. The holy journey requires the pilgrim to perform ten rituals before and during hajj.
Here are the basic steps you may want to know about hajj:
State of Ihram
This is considered the first step for any pilgrim wishing to perform hajj. To enter the state of Ihram, a pilgrim has to recite an intention to perform hajj called the Talabiya. This is when a pilgrim prepares one’s soul, mind and body for journey to the Almighty God. Entering the stage begins from the Miqat, or a place that is outside the pilgrimage area.
Men and women going on hajj adhere to a specific dress code which is aimed at showing modesty and shedding all signs of wealth. Men don unstitched white garments, while women wear normal stitched clothes and a headscarf. Women are forbidden however from wearing the burqa or niqab.
In fact, the word Ihram originates from the Arabic term Tahreem, which means prohibited. Because the state is believed to have a special essence of spiritual purity, there are certain acts that are not allowed for pilgrims. Among them are using perfumes, cutting hair or nails, and slaughtering animals.
The Saudi Arabian city is considered Islam’s holiest site, as it holds al-Masjid al-Haram or the Grand Mosque that surrounds the Kaaba, a cuboid shaped building which Muslims believe has been put up together by Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail almost 4, 000 years ago.
Muslims call the Kaaba “the house of God” and are expected to face the direction of Makkah when praying in any part of the world.
Upon arrival to Makkah,Pilgrims should make Tawaf or circumambulation. It is considered an integral part of the pilgrimage, and refers to the seven times pilgrims circle around the Kaaba at the beginning, during and at the end of hajj.
The circuits are done in a counter-clockwise direction and are thought to express the unity between Muslims in worshipping one God.The rotations are marked by al-Hajar al-Aswad, or the Black Stone at the eastern corner of the Kabaa.
To traverse the distance between the hills of Safa and Marwah for seven times, this is what is called Sa’ey. The term in Arabic means to walk or move quickly.
After Tawaf, pilgrims perform Sa’ey, in what commemorates the journey by Prophet Ibrahim’s wife to find water for her infant prophet Ismail, after they were left in the desert of Makkah at God’s command. The hills are now enclosed by the Grand Mosque.
Departure to Mina
Pilgrims proceed to the tent city of Mina on the first day of hajj or what is called the day of Tarwiah. They converge to Mina for prayer, which lies roughly eight kilometers away from Makkah. Pilgrims are required to remain in Mina until the sunrise of the second day of hajj, where they leave to Arafat.
They pay another trip to Mina on the third day of hajj to perform the symbolic stoning of the devil, the sixth rite of hajj.
After the dawn prayers in Mina, pilgrims start their journey to the desert planes of Arafat. Dubbed as the “most important day of hajj,” Muslims spend the day of Arafat in the vicinity of the mountain, praying and repenting.
After descending from Arafat, pilgrims arrive to the open land of Muzdalifah, southeast of Mina.People gather in makeshift tents and are required to perform Maghrib and Isha prayers. It is also considered the best place to collect pebbles for Ramy al-Jamarat
The symbolic stoning of the devil, where pilgrims fling pebbles, called jamarat, at three walls, in the city of Mina. The stoning marks the third day of hajj or Eid al-Adha.
Facilities for Hajj
The expenditure towards Haj is borne by the pilgrims themselves.No financial assistance is given directly to Haj pilgrims. However, Ministry of Civil Aviation provides subsidy for air travel to pilgrims going for Haj through the Haj Committee of India.
Ministry of External Affairs coordinates arrangements for Haj pilgrimage in consultation with the Haj Committee of India and the Consulate General of India (CGI), Jeddah. Every year, MEA sends deputationists (Coordinators, Assistant Haj Officers, Haj Assistants, Doctors and paramedical staff) for rendering assistance to the Haj pilgrims. Every year, CGI, Jeddah arranges for temporary tents in Mina, sets up branch Haj Offices and dispensaries in Makkah and Madinah, provides medicines, ambulances, other local transport etc. for the Haj pilgrims.
Ministry of Civil Aviation supervises the Air charter operations during Haj period and deploys officials in Saudi Arabia to assist in embarkation and disembarkation of pilgrims.
To provide better facilities and amenities for Haj pilgrims, several initiatives have been undertaken. These include: improvement of amenities for Haj pilgrims in buildings in Makkah and Madinah; strengthening of medical services for Haj pilgrims, streamlining of air travel arrangements for Hajis by ensuring effective management of timely arrival and departure of flights, online submission of Haj application form to Haj Committee of India and providing e-payment option to pilgrims, provision of local sim cards; provision of travel by metro train in Mashaer region for pilgrims going through HCOI ; 24 X 7 helpline,toll free number and use of Whatsapp and SMS for providing timely information; use of Mobile phone Application- “Indian Hajis Accommodation Locator” with information for Indian pilgrims; speedy and effective online complaint management system; strengthening of transport arrangements for Hajis accommodated in Azizia.
In terms of Haj Policy 2013-17 framed by the Government in accordance with the judgment of Supreme Court dated 16.04.2013, an individual can perform Haj through Haj Committee of India (HCoI) only “once in a life time”. However, a Repeater pilgrim is eligible as a Mehram of a female pilgrim or companion of age 70+ pilgrim,if no other Mehram/ Companion (who has not performed Haj through HCoI) is available and if he/she pays full airfare as decided by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
The term used in the Holy Quran is “al-hajj-al-Akbar”.But it does not mean a Hajj performed on Friday, as generally alleged by ignorant people. The Holy Quran has used this term for the Hajj performed by the Muslims under the supervision of Sayyidna Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) in the year 9 A.H.i.e. one year earlier to the last Hajj of the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihai Wasallam), and this Hajj (the Hajj of 9 A.H.) was not performed on Friday. Still, the Holy Quran has called it “al-Hajj-al- Akbar”. It is clear from this that this term has no reference to Friday.
The Correct meaning of the term, as explained by a large number of the commentators of the Holy Quran is that the Umrah, which can be performed at any time throughout the year, was generally called “al-hajj-Asghar” (the minor Hajj). In order to distinguish hajj from Umrah the former was named “al-Hajj-al-Akbar” (the greater hajj). Therefore, each and every hajj is al-hajj-al-akbar, no matter whether it is performed on Friday or on any other day. The word “Akbar” (greater) is used only to distinguish it from Umrah which is a minor Hajj.
Difference between Hajj and Hajj-e-Akbar
It is famous among people that a hajj occurring on Friday is Hajj-e-Akbar, but it is not proved from any Fiqh books and mujtahid imams. However, the Fiqh and Hadith books state that hajj is hajj-e-akbar (big hajj) while umrah is hajj-e-asghar (small hajj).
Allah (Subhana Wa Ta’ala) knows Best
Incidents during the Hajj
There have been incidents during the Hajj’, the Muslim pilgrimage to the city of Mecca, that have caused the loss of a life. Every follower of Islam is required to visit Mecca during the Hajj at least once in his or her lifetime, if able to do so; the pilgrimage is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.
Plane travel makes Mecca and the Hajj more accessible to pilgrims from all over the world. As a consequence, the Hajj has become increasingly crowded. City officials are required to control large crowds and provide food, shelter, sanitation, and emergency services for millions. However, it has not always been possible to prevent incidents.
Crushes and failures of crowd control
Sometimes the dense, surging troupes, trekking from one station of the pilgrimage to the next, cause a stampede, or more precisely, a progressive troupe collapse. At densities above 6 or 7 persons per square meter, individuals cannot move, groups are swept along in waves, individuals jostle to find breath and to avoid falling and being trampled, and hundreds of deaths can occur as a result. The stoning of the devil (ramī aj-jamarāt) ceremony is particularly crowded and dangerous. Pilgrims ritualistically throw pebbles at three walls (formerly pillars) which represent the three places where the devil tempted Abraham.It is one of a series of ritual acts that must be performed in the Hajj.
Birth of the Prophet Ismail A.S. and the Migration to Mecca
Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) prayed for a son in all sublimity and his prayer was granted.Hagar gave birth to a baby boy Isma’il (AS). Soon after, The Almighty commanded the Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) to migrate to the Holy Land of Ka’bah in Makkah. In accordance with the Divine Commandment, the family set out on a long and troublesome journey. Towards the end of the journey the family set up their tents in a hilly area without any trees or water source around.
The Prophet lsma’il (PBUH) was a few months old. He began crying because of thirst. His mother ran desperately in quest of water between the two hillocks called Safa and Marwa but found no water. When she returned back to the thirsty infant she was surprised to see the spring of Zam Zam emerged beneath the foot of the Prophet Isma’il (PBUH). She heaved a sigh of relief and quenched the thirst of her baby with the water. People came from far and wide to observe the miracle and gradually this locality named Mecca became the birth place of Islam.
Who performed first Hajj Baitullah
- Hazrat Ibrahim and Hazrat Ismail (A.S)
- Hazrat Adam and Hazrat Hawa
- Hazrat Ibrahim and Hazrat Hajira
- None of them
Hajj vs Umrah
Umrah and Hajj are two types of pilgrimages that Muslims undertake as a token of their faith.
Although both umrah and hajj are pilgrimages, there are many differences between the two. For instance, an umrah is considered as a small or minor pilgrimage while a hajj is a major pilgrimage among Muslims.
The natures of both pilgrimages are also different. An umrah is a recommended and non-compulsory pilgrimage, but a hajj is an obligatory one. There are also more requirements and qualifications for a pilgrim in conducting a hajj.
The weight or importance between the two pilgrimages is also distinct. The hajj carries more weight and importance in comparison to an umrah.
The Umrah is a pilgrimage that can be done any time of the year or in combination with a hajj. As a pilgrimage, it has two types: al-Umrat al mutradah (umrah without hajj) and Umrat-al tammatu (umrah with hajj). The first type can be performed by the individual while the second type can be performed collectively with the other pilgrims for the hajj.
The first type of umrah is performed anytime with the exclusion of the hajj months while the latter kind can be performed within the hajj months