Hajj 2019: When is Hajj? Rituals, History & More About Islamic Pilgrimage to Makkah
Hajj 2019: Here's everything about Hajj, customs, history, mobile application, date and difference between Umrah and Hajj.
Hajj 2019: Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage, which takes place in Mekkah, Saudi Arabia. According to Muslims, Mecca is home of Allah and the holiest place on the earth. Performing Hajj is one of the five mandatory religious practices done by Muslims. According to Muslims, Hajj is mandatory upon those who can afford to go to Makkah to perform this ritual or prayer.
This annual pilgrimage is performed in the last month of the Islamic calendar, Dhu Al Hijjah. According to the Islamic calendar, Hajj to be carried out on 11th August this year. Performing this ritual, millions of people from every corner of the world head to Makkah and spend plenty of time to pray and watching the home of Almighty.
According to reports, almost two million Muslims visited the holy city to perform Hajj. Yes, prior to Hajj date, Saudi Government allocated a set number of pilgrims for each country to avoid overcrowding.
What is Hajj?
Hajj is considered to be the world’s largest annual pilgrimages which take place in the holy place, Makkah. Muslims are asked to perform some rituals performed by the Prophet Mohammed SAW almost 1400 years ago. The event is a deeply spiritual experience for all as every Muslims around the world aspire to take part in at some point during their life.
It is only mandatory upon those who can afford to go all the way to Mecca and carry out the rituals performed by Prophet Mohammed SAW. The meaning of the word Hajj is heading to a place for the sake of visiting the House of God, Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
The rituals of Hajj are basically performed on five or six days starting on the eight Duh Al Hijjah and ending on thirteenth Duh Al Hijjah. Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam alongside, Shahadah (Kalima), Salah (Namaz), Zakat and Sawm (Roza – fast).
The history of Hajj
Hajj is associated with the life of the messenger of God, Prophet Mohammed SAW but some ritual of its element days back to the time of Prophet Abraham in 1813 BC. During Hajj, millions of people belonging to different parts of the world walk counter-clockwise seven times around the Kaaba (the cube-shaped building located in Haram).
They also run back and forth between the hills of Al Safa and Al Marwah, drink from the Zamzam well, go to plain of Mount Arafat to stand in vigil, spend a night the plain of Muzdalifa, and perform the symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing stones at three pillars. The ritual of Hajj ends with the sacrifice of an animal. All the pilgrims are required to have shaved their head during Hajj. Then they celebrate the three days festival of Eid al Adha, which falls this year on 12th August.
According to Quranic verse, Almighty Allah asked Prophet Ibrahim to leave his wife Hagar and son Ismail alone during ancient time in a deserted place, which is now known as Makkah. The wife of Prophet Ibrahim desperately tries to find some water for her son Ismail, who is a newborn and laying in the scorching heat of a deserted place.
In order to find water for Ismail, Hagar runs between two hills Al Safa and Al Marwa seven times, which is one of the rituals of Hajj. When she reaches to her son, she was surprised to see the miracle of Allah. At a place where her son scratches his feet at the ground, the god started a spring to well up beneath them. The site is now called as the Well of Zamzam.
Even the foundation stone of Kaaba was laid by none other than Prophet Mohammed, who built it with the help of son under orders from God, who told him to invite people to make a pilgrimage there. It is said the black stone used to build the Kaaba was supplied by the angel Gabriel, who brought it from heaven.
Sometime before Islam was introduced in 610 AD, Kaaba became a site for pagan worship. Twenty years later, the Prophet Mohammed led his followers from Makkah to Madinah where they destroyed the pagan idols. The Prophet Mohammed performed his first and only Hajj, with a large number of followers, in 632.
Those accompanying the Prophet Mohammed observed his every move and these steps are performed in the same sequence today.
When is Hajj 2019 and how long does it last?
This year, Hajj begins from August 9 and it will end on 12 August 2019. The last and 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar is called Dhul-Hijjah, and Hajj takes place between the eighth and 13th days of the month.
What are the rituals performed during Hajj?
Day 1: The day of Tarwiyah – Dhu Al Hijjah 8
On the first day of Hajj, Pilgrims belonging to different parts of the world begin their Hajj at the holy place, Kaaba. The moment they approach Kaaba, they must circumambulate in a counterclockwise direction, meant to express the devotion of Muslims praying to one God.
Followed by this ritual, all pilgrims pace between the two hills Al Saf and Al Marwa that Hagar did while searching for water. After running between these two hills, pilgrims depart for Mina where they recite and spend the night in the valley where Prophet Ibrahim stoned the devil as he tried to lead him astray.
Day 2: The day of Arafah – Dhu Al Hijjah 9
The second day of Hajj is known as Arafah, which is considered to a pivotal day of Hajj. After performing morning prayer Fajr, pilgrims head to Mount Arafat, which is a 70-meter hill, it is said that it is a place where Prophet Mohammed gave his final sermon.
While descending from Mount Arafat, Pilgrims make their way to Muzdalifah, located in the south of Mina. Pilgrims go to Muzdalifah to pray as it is believed that prayers make in Muzdalifah does not go unanswered by the Almighty. Pilgrims also collect some pebbles to perform the ritual of Hajj. It is recommended to collect 70 little stones. The stoning of Jamrat Al Aqabah typically takes place after midnight.
Day 3: stoning Jamrat Al Aqabah and Eid Al Adha – Dhu Al Hijjah 10
On the third day of Hajj, Pilgrims are bound to stone Jamrat Al Aqabah, the place where the devil is said to have appeared before the Prophet Ibrahim. At this place, Pilgrims must throw seven stones one after another, which were collected in Muzdalifah. While throwing pebbles on the devil they recite Allahu Akbar God is greatest). Each pebble should be the size of a fava bean. The act mimics that of the Prophet Ibrahim, who was told by the angel Gabriel to pelt the devil with stones.
After the stoning step, Eid Al Adha can be celebrated and the pilgrims’ sacrificial animal should be slaughtered. Then, men should either shave their heads or cut their hair, and women should cut the length of a fingertip from their hair.
Three days of Tashreeq: – Dhu Al Hijjah 11 – 13
On the final and fourth day of Hajj, Pilgrims tend to stay in Mina to stone the three sites of the devil each day to cement their intentions and in the hope that Allah will accept their Hajj and all the prayer they ask during this period of time. The first two days, Dhu Al Hijjah 11 and 12, are mandatory while the 13th is optional. After that is the final Tawaf Al Ifadha.
Hajj finale: Tawaf Al Ifadha
After performing such ritual and leaving for Medina, all pilgrims referred to as Hajjis. Now, they are free to shed their white or black robes and don whatever they want. Makkah becomes a kaleidoscope of colour as pilgrims perform a final, farewell Tawaf known as Tawaf Al Ifadha where they circumambulate the Kaaba one last time. This step is mandatory but pilgrims have up until the end of Dhu Al Hijjah to perform it.
Importance of Hajj
Hajj is an annual religious practice which is deeply connected to every Muslims. There are plenty of Pilgrims visit Mecca for the first time after collecting money for many years. According to reports, More than half of those performing Hajj visit from low-income countries. Notably, 18 percent people of Pilgrims come from conflict-ridden states.
According to Sunnah, or the way of the Prophet, Hajj Al Tamattu is the most preferred method of performing the pilgrimage. Along with Hajj Al Qiran, it differs from Hajj Al Ifrad in that the latter entails performing only Hajj, while the other two require performing Umrah or minor pilgrimage, before.
How to prepare for Hajj?
Prior to making an arrangement for the money, people must purify their intention (niyat) to god. Their intention for Hajj should be sincere and for the sake of Almighty instead of taking pictures of purchasing things from the market. All pilgrims are prescribed to don a specific dress to perform Hajj rituals.
Things to take with you during Hajj
You are not allowed to don you nices dress during Hajj, you will have to don Ihram indicating that you are going to Mecca for the sake of Allah. Irrespective of what countries and cast Pilgrims belong they are seen as equal in Ihram and Almighty does not discriminate with its people.
Men should don two sets of white sheets which symbolises purity that does not contain stitches and has no seems. These sheets must be worn when they are in a state of Ihram while performing the Hajj rituals. Women must wear simple, long and modest dresses or abayas during Hajj. Pilgrims should not be scented, perfumed or use any cosmetics while in the state of Ihram.
They are asked to wear a good pair of slippers during the time of Hajj.
Differences between the Hajj and Umrah
- Hajj and Umrah are Islamic pilgrimages, the main difference is their level of importance and the method of observance.
- Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and obligatory rituals for every Muslim once in their lifetime if they are financially well.
- Hajj can only be performed over a specific time while Umran can be carried out throughout the year.
- Both Hajj and Umrah share common rituals, Umrah can be performed in less than a few hours while Hajj is more time consuming, and involves more rituals.
What is Ihram?
Ihram is a piece of cloth which Muslim men wear during Hajj or Umrah. A pilgrim must enter this state by performing the cleansing rituals and wearing the previously described attire. When you don Ihram, you are not allowed to use perfuse, scent or cosmetics.
Helpful apps and information for Hajj
Ministry of Hajj and Umrah launched the Smart Hajj initiative last year, providing all pilgrims with smartphone apps to help them through the pilgrimage. The app allows users to send health reports through their phones and request medical care in emergencies. Using this Hajj app, the user can track pilgrims’ location in order to provide them with services or assistance to those with special needs.
Apart from this App, the ministry has also launched the newer version of Manasikana app meant to guide pilgrims through every step of Hajj, from signing up for the pilgrimage to their return home. The app is available in eight different languages, which provides information including prayer times and flight schedules, the weather forecast for Makkah, Madinah and Jeddah, emergency numbers, the location of the nearest emergency centre and currency exchange rates.