The fourth act of worship is the performing of the Hajj or Pilgrimage to Mecca and it is obligatory upon every such Muslim adult (at least once in his/her lifetime) who can afford to undertake the journey and has safe access to Mecca (3:98). The time appointed for the Hajj is fixed ten weeks after Eid-ul-Fitr. Thus it starts on the eighth and continues up to the thirteenth of the lunar month of Dhul-Hijjah.
This pilgrimage to Mecca is associated with the sacrifices performed by the prophet Abraham, may peace be upon him, his wife Hagar, may peace be upon her, and his son Ishmael, may peace be upon him. With Hajj are also associated the holy traditions of the early sufferings and sacrifices of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. It offers a golden opportunity to the Muslims of different countries and diverse races to meet and discuss matters of mutual and international interest.
The Holy Ka’aba
The Ka’aba, is the focal point of Hajj, and is the first place
ever to be set up in the world for the worship of Allah (4:97).
It was rebuilt by the prophets Abraham and Ishmael, may peace
be upon them both, some four thousand years ago. Muslims all
over the world face the Ka’aba when they offer their prayers.
Various ceremonies of Hajj are summarised below:
Ihram and Talbiyah
The Hajj starts when the pilgrims reach certain designated places close to Mecca. The male pilgrims enter the state of Ihram by wearing only two seamless white sheets, and recite Talbiyah, whilst the female pilgrims are fully clothed and also recite the Talbiyah, which consists of saying the following aloud:
Tawaf of the Ka’aba and Sa’ee between Safa and Marwah
From Mecca they move to Mina, a plain four miles east of Mecca. Next morning after Fajr prayer, they leave for ‘Arafaat.
Stay at the Plain of ‘Arafaat
Stay at Mina
Next, the pilgrims sacrifice their animals, then the men shave their heads or cut their hair short and women cut a few hairs and end the state of Ihram by wearing normal dress. On this day, the Muslims all over the world, except the pilgrims, celebrate Eid ul Adhia. On the 10th, 11th or 12th days of Dhul Hijjah, the pilgrims can perform Tawaf and Sa’ee for the second time at Mecca and once again return to Mina.
Farewell Tawaf at Mecca and the End of Hajj