||It has been suggested that Istita'ah be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since April 2013.|
The Hajj (Arabic: حج Ḥaǧǧ "pilgrimage") is an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and the largest gathering of Muslim people in the world every year. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, and a religious duty which must be carried out at least once in lifetime by every adult Muslim who is physically fit, and financially capable of undertaking the journey and supporting his family during his absence. 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 intend 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 of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar. Because the Islamic calendar is a lunar one which is eleven days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, 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 unstitched cloth and abstain from certain things.
The Hajj 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 (Ibrahim). 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 Ka'aba, the cube-shaped building and the direction of prayer for the Muslims, runs back and forth between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, drinks from the Zamzam Well, goes to the plains of Mount Arafat to stand in vigil, spends a night in the plane of Muzdalifa and throws stones at symbolic pillars of Satan at Jamarat in a ritual Stoning of the Devil. The pilgrims then shave their heads, perform a ritual of animal sacrifice, and celebrate the three day global festival of Eid al-Adha.
- 1 History
- 2 Rites
- 2.1 Ihram
- 2.2 Tawaf and sa'ay
- 2.3 First day of Hajj: 8th Dhu al-Hijjah
- 2.4 Second day: 9th Dhu al-Hijjah
- 2.5 Third day: 10th Dhu al-Hijjah
- 2.6 Fourth day: 11th Dhu al-Hijjah
- 2.7 Fifth day: 12th Dhu al-Hijjah
- 2.8 Journey to Medina
- 3 Transportation
- 4 Modern crowd-control issues
- 5 Social effect
- 6 Number of pilgrims per year
- 7 Gallery
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
The present pattern of Hajj was established by Muhammad. However, elements of Hajj trace back to the time of Abraham (Ibrahim), around 2000 BCE. According to tradition, Abraham was ordered by God to leave his wife Hagar (Hājar) and his son Ishmael (ʼIsmāʻīl) alone in the desert of ancient Mecca. Looking for shelter, food and water, Hagar ran back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwa seven times with her son. In desperation, she laid the baby on the sand and begged for God's assistance. The baby cried and hit the ground with his heel, and the Zamzam Well miraculously sprang forth. Later, Abraham was commanded to build Kaaba (which he did with the help of Ishmael) and to invite people to perform pilgrimage there. The Quran refers to these incidents in 2:125-127 and 22:27-30. It is said that the arch-angel Gabriel brought the Black Stone from Heaven to be attached to Kaaba.
In pre-Islamic Arabia, a time known as jahiliyyah, Kaaba became surrounded by pagan idols. In 630 CE, Muhammad led his followers from Medina to Mecca in what was the first Hajj to be performed by Muslims alone, and the only one Muhammad attended. He cleansed the Kaaba by destroying all the pagan idols, and then reconsecrated the building to Allah. It was from this point that the Hajj became one of the five pillars of Islam.
Historically, Muslims would gather at various meeting points in other great cities, and then proceed en masse towards Mecca, in groups that could comprise tens of thousands of pilgrims. Two of the most famous meeting points were in Damascus and Cairo, where the Sultan would stand atop a platform on the famous Zuweila Gate to officially see pilgrims off.
Performing the Hajj was a hazardous journey for early pilgrims; Ibn Jubayr noted the skeletons of the faithful who had died of thirst en route. In the 17th century, a group of Egyptian pilgrims lost over 1,500 people and 900 camels. In 1924 around one-fifth of a group of Syrian pilgrims died and two years later, 12,000 are thought to have died during the journey.
When the pilgrims are about 6 miles (10 km) from Mecca, they enter into a state of holiness – known as Ihram – that consists of wearing two white seamless cloths for the male, with the one wrapped around the waist reaching below the knee and the other draped over the left shoulder and tied at the right side; wearing ordinary dress for the female that fulfills the Islamic condition of public dress with hands or face uncovered; taking ablution; declaring intention (niyah) to perform pilgrimage; refraining from clipping nail, shaving any part of the body, having sexual relation; using perfumes, damaging plants, killing animals, covering head [for men] or the face and hands [for women]; making marriage proposal; or carrying weapons. A place designated for changing into Ihram is called a Miqat. The ihram is meant to show equality of all pilgrims, in front of God: there is no difference between a prince and a pauper.
Tawaf and sa'ay
The pilgrims perform an arrival tawaf either as part of Umrah or as an welcome tawaf. They enter Masjid al-Haram and walk seven times counterclockwise around the Kaaba. Each circuit starts with the kissing or touching of the Black Stone (Hajar al- Aswad).  If kissing the stone is not possible because of the crowds, they may simply point towards the stone with their hand on each circuit. Eating is not permitted but the drinking of water is allowed, because of the risk of dehydration due to the often high humidity in Mecca. Men are encouraged to perform the first three circuits at a hurried pace, known as Ramal, and the following four at a leisurely pace.
The completion of Tawaf is followed by two Rakaat prayers at the Place of Abraham (Muqaam Ibrahim), a site near Kaaba inside the mosque. However, again because of large crowds during the days of Hajj, they may instead pray anywhere in the mosque.
Although the circuits around the Kaaba are traditionally done on the ground level, tawaf is now also performed on the first floor and roof of the mosque because of the large crowd.
Tawaf is followed by sa'ay, running or walking seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwah. Previously in open air, the place is now entirely enclosed by the Masjid al-Haram mosque, and can be accessed via air-conditioned tunnels. Pilgrims are advised to walk the circuit, though two green pillars mark a short section of the path where they are allowed to run. There is also an internal "express lane" for the disabled. As part of this ritual the pilgrims also drink water from the Zamzam Well, which is made available in coolers throughout the Mosque. After sayee, the male pilgrims shave their heads and women generally clip a portion of their hair which completes the Umrah and ends the restriction of ihram.
First day of Hajj: 8th Dhu al-Hijjah
On the 7th Dhu al-Hijjah, the pilgrims are reminded of his duties. They again don the ihram garments and make intention for the pilgrimage. The prohibitions of ihram start.
After the Morning Prayer on the 8th of Dhu al-Hijjah, the pilgrims proceed to Mina where they spend the whole day and offer noon, afternoon, evening, and night prayers. The next morning after Fajr prayer, they leave Mina for Arafat.
Second day: 9th Dhu al-Hijjah
On 9th Dhu al-Hijjah before noon, pilgrims arrive at Arafat, a barren and plain land some 20 kilometers east of Mecca, where they stand in contemplative vigil: they offer supplications, repent on and atone for their past sins, and seek mercy of God near Jabal al-Rahmah (The Mount of Mercy) from where Muhammad delivered his last sermon. Lasting from noon through sunset, this is known as 'standing before God' (wuquf), one of the most significant rites of Hajj. At Masjid al-Namirah, pilgrims offer noon and afternoon prayers together at noon time. A pilgrim's Hajj is considered invalid if they do not spend the afternoon on Arafat.
Pilgrims must leave Arafat for Muzdalifah after sunset without praying maghrib (evening) prayer at Arafat. Muzdalifah is an area between Arafat and Mina. Upon reaching there, pilgrims perform Maghrib and Isha prayer jointly, spend the night praying and sleeping on the ground with open sky, and gather pebbles for the next day's ritual of the stoning of the Devil (Shaitan).
Third day: 10th Dhu al-Hijjah
Back at Mina, the pilgrims perform symbolic stoning of the devil (Ramy al-Jamarat) by throwing seven stones at each of the three pillars (jamarah) said to represent Satan. On the first occasion when the stoning is performed, pilgrims stone the largest pillar known as Jamrat'al'Aqabah. Pilgrims climb ramps to the multi-levelled Jamaraat Bridge, from which they can throw their pebbles at the jamarat. On the second occasion, the other pillars are stoned. The stoning consists of throwing seven pebbles on each pillar. Because of the crowds, in 2004 the pillars were replaced by long walls, with catch basins below to collect the pebbles.
After the casting of stones, animals are slaughtered to commemorate the story of Abraham and Ishmael. Traditionally the pilgrims slaughtered the animal themselves, or oversaw the slaughtering. Today many pilgrims buy a sacrifice voucher in Mecca before the greater Hajj begins, which allows an animal to be slaughtered in their name on the 10th, without the pilgrim being physically present. Modern abattoirs complete the processing of the meat which is then sent as charity to poor people around the world. At the same time as the sacrifices occur at Mecca, Muslims worldwide perform similar sacrifices, in a three day global festival called Eid al-Adha.
After sacrificing animal, another important rite of Hajj is shaving head or trimming hair (known as Halak). All male pilgrims shave their head or trim their hair on the day of Eid al Adha and women pilgrims only cut the tip of hair.
On the same or the following day, the pilgrims re-visit the Masjid al-Haram mosque in Mecca for another tawaf, known as Tawaf al-Ifadah, an essential part of Hajj. It symbolizes being in a hurry to respond to God and show love for Him, an obligatory part of the Hajj. The night of the 10th is spent back at Mina.
Fourth day: 11th Dhu al-Hijjah
At noon on the 11th (and again the following day), the pilgrims again throw seven pebbles at each of the three pillars in Mina.
Fifth day: 12th Dhu al-Hijjah
On 12th, the same process of stoning of the Jamarat takes place. Pilgrims must leave Mina for Mecca before sunset on the 12th. If unable, they must perform the stoning ritual again on the 13th before returning to Mecca.
Finally, before leaving Mecca, pilgrims perform a farewell tawaf called the Tawaf al-Wida. 'Wida' means 'to bid farewell'.
Journey to Medina
Though not a part of Hajj, pilgrims choose to travel to the city of Medina and the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (Mosque of the Prophet), which contains Muhammad's tomb. The Quba Mosque and Masjid al-Qiblatain are also usually visited.
Pilgrims generally travel to Hajj in groups, as an expression of unity. Various institutions and government programs, such as the Haj subsidy offered in India or the Tabung Haji based in Malaysia assist pilgrims in covering the costs of the journey.
In the 19th century, many pilgrims began arriving in Mecca by steamship and this continued for some time, until after Egypt introduced the first airline service for Hajj pilgrims in 1937. Some airlines and many travel agents have packages for Muslims going to Mecca. King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz Airport in Medina have special facilities to accommodate the arrival of pilgrims. Other international airports around the world, such as Indira Gandhi in New Delhi, Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad, Jinnah in Karachi and Soekarno-Hatta in Jakarta also have smaller dedicated terminals or temporary facilities to service pilgrims as they depart and return home.
Modern crowd-control issues
As of 2010, about three million pilgrims participate in the hajj. 3,161,573 in 2012, according to Saudi Foreign Embassy. Crowd-control techniques have become critical, and because of the large numbers of people, many of the rituals have become more symbolic. It is not necessary to kiss the Black Stone, but merely to point at it on each circuit around the Kaaba. Throwing pebbles was done at large pillars, which for safety reasons in 2004 were changed to long walls with catch basins below to catch the stones. The slaughter of an animal can be done either personally, or by appointing someone else to do it, and so forth. But even with the crowd control techniques, there are still many incidents during the Hajj, as pilgrims are trampled in a crush, or ramps collapse under the weight of the many visitors. 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. However, even if one chooses 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. Mass gathering events like the gathering of huge numbers of pilgrims traveling to Saudi Arabia's holy sites during Ramadan and Hajj may give infections such as Middle East respiratory syndrome the opportunity to spread.
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Early after the founding of Islam, Muslims began to expand their territory. By 750 CE, they came to conquer most of the Middle East, North Africa, and parts of Europe, ushering in an era of learning, science, and invention known as the Islamic Golden Age. The knowledge and skills of the ancient Middle East, of Greece, and of Persia were preserved by Muslims who also added new and important innovations from outside such as the manufacture of paper from China and decimal positional numbering from India. Much of this learning and development can be linked to geography.
Even prior to Islam's presence, the city of Mecca had served as a center of trade in Arabia. With the new Islamic tradition of the Hajj, the city became even more a center for exchanging goods and ideas. The influence held by Muslim merchants over African-Arabian and Arabian-Asian trade routes was tremendous. As a result, Islamic civilization grew and expanded on the basis of its merchant economy, in contrast to the Europeans, Indians, and Chinese who based their societies on an agricultural landholding nobility. Merchants brought goods and their faith to China, India, Southeast Asia, and the kingdoms of western Africa, and returned with new discoveries and inventions.
There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and the non-white. America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought patterns previously held.—
Due to lack of communication between more than three million pilgrims from all over the globe and the immensity of the gathering itself, there have been many incidents during the Hajj that have led to the loss of hundreds of lives. The worst of these incidents have usually occurred during the ritual known as 'Stoning of the Devil'. During the 2006 Hajj on 12 January, 362 pilgrims died. Tramplings have also occurred when pilgrims try to run between the two hills known as Al-Safa and Al-Marwa. In 2006, there were some 600 casualties among pilgrims performing the Hajj. After these events, the Saudi government made improvements for pilgrims such as providing separate pathways for travelling to and from Al-Safa and Al-Marwa.
A 2008 study on the longer-term effect of participating in the Islamic pilgrimage found that Muslims' communities become more open after the Hajj experience. Entitled Estimating the Impact of the Hajj: Religion and Tolerance in Islam’s Global Gathering, a study conducted in conjunction with Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government found that the Hajj experience promotes peaceful coexistence, equality, and harmony. Specifically, the report states that the Hajj "increases belief in equality and harmony among ethnic groups and Islamic community and that "Hajjis (those who have performed the Hajj) show increased belief in peace, and in equality and harmony among adherents of different religions". During the 2013 Hajj, some American pilgrims reported Salafist threats and violence, which was accompanied by official discrimination.
Number of pilgrims per year
There has been substantial progress in the number of pilgrims during the last 92 years, and only the number of foreign pilgrims has increased phenomenally by approximately 2,824 percent, up from just 58,584 in 1920 to 1,712,962 in 2012. Due to fears of the MERS virus, attendance in the hajj was lower in 2013 compared to 2012. The Saudi government asked elderly and chronically ill Muslims to avoid the Hajj and have restricted the number of people allowed to perform the pilgrimage. Saudi Health Minister Abdullah Al-Rabia said that authorities had so far detected no cases of MERS among the pilgrims. He also said that despite few cases of MERS, Saudi Arabia was ready for 2014 Pilgrimage. The following number of pilgrims arrived in Saudi Arabia each year to perform Hajj.
|Year||Hijri year||Saudi pilgrims||Foreign pilgrims||Total|
|2013||1433||700,000 (approx.) ||1,379,531 ||2,061,573 (approx.)|
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- The official Saudi Arabian Ministry of Hajj website
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