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HAJJ: A Lifetime Experience

Unlike the other religions where visits to the ‘’holy’’ shrines and places of worship are allowed any time, Muslim pilgrimage has a specific time and it is only once in a year. Hajj, as the pilgrimage is called, takes place in the 12th month of Islamic lunar calendar ( Dhul Hijjah). Visitors to Mecca in other months beside the appointed period merely perform Umrah (lesser Hajj); this is not an obligation in Islam as sanctioned by Allah, though it is also an important practice.

There are some conditions, which must be fulfilled before one can set out to perform this obligation: The intending pilgrim must be a mature Muslim who must be used to performing the first four pillars of Islam. The person must be of sound health. Sick and aged people are not encouraged, as they may find the rigours of Hajj tasking; Allah does not place a burden on the man beyond his capacity Q2: 286. He must be wealthy enough to undertake the journey and make adequate provision for his dependants at home while he is away and the routes from home to the holy land must be safe from danger. The conditions are stated; in the holy Qur’an 2:197; ’’ ….If any one undertakes that duty therein, let there be no obscenity nor wrangling in the hajj…Take provision (with you) for the journey, but the best provision is right conduct, so fear Me (Allah) oh ye that are wise.

When all these conditions are fulfilled, the intending pilgrim set out from his house leaving behind his wives, husband, children and others who are dear to him. The person’s mind must be free from all worldly desires (economic, sexual, social etc). Such a pilgrim must be preoccupied with the love of Allah as did prophet Ibrahim (A.S). On leaving home, pilgrims must show tact, modesty, and good conduct to others, even when they are not related or do not share the same manners. For Allah’s sake, they must be soft, gentle and patient; they must endeavour to avoid any act of maltreatment by others with pleasant behaviours.

 May’qat

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This is a fixed place where the pilgrims put on the Ihram in readiness for Hajj obligations. Here a pilgrim cleanses himself up, removes his items of clothing and put on two seamless sheets (white wrappers), one is folded around the loins while the other is thrown over the neck and shoulders cover the upper trunk of the body. This is in preparation and readiness to enter the sacred mosque of Kaabah to perform Ta’waf .

 Female pilgrim will also be in her dress specially made for such an occasion. However, the cloth must cover her Aw’rah (Those parts of which considered to constitute nakedness and must, therefore, be covered to prevent inadvertent seduction of the male pilgrims around); only the face, arms and legs are exposed. Once a pilgrim is in the state of Ihram, the following should be avoided: Cutting of nails, removal of hair from any part of the body, Indulgence in sexual intercourse or anything that may lead to the act, cutting of grass or tree branches and Killing of animals/games.

Immediately after the Ihram, the pilgrim begins to observe Talbi’yah, which could be in a congregation as follows: Labayka Alla’huma labayka;labyka la’sharika laka labayka;innal’hamdan, wanihmat lakawal’mulk; la’sharika laka labayk .meaning: I stand up for your service O Allah, I stand. There is no partner with you, I stand. Verily, all praises are due to you, blessings, the sovereignty of the universe are all yours; there is no partner beside thee.

TA’WAF: On entering the city of Makkah, the pilgrim precedes straight to Kaabah for tawaf. This is the circumambulation around the Kaabah seven times. Each circuit starts from the end at a marked corner of the black stone ( A’jar As’wad). When Ta’waf is completed, it is necessary to kiss the stone or point to it with raised palm and then kiss the palm as evidenced show the blessing of Allah by doing so.                          

Sa’y:  Is the act of walking briskly between the hills of Safa and Marwa. After this, Halaq or Qasir (shaving or cutting of hair on the head, respectively).

Beginning of Hajj proper.

The 7th day of Dhul hijjah is called yawmu zinah, the day of neatness; when a pilgrim makes spiritual preparation for Hajj. After Subhi prayers on the eighth, pilgrims are set on, put on their Ihram and leave for mina (5 miles from Makkah and 10 miles from Arafat). There they observe other prayers for the day. Although staying for the night is su’nnah, failure to go Mina does not render one’s Hajj void. The 9th day of Dhul Hijah is the Arafat day where people are mandated to stay till sunset. Here, Zuhr and Asr are combined and Khutbah follows the prayers. On Arafat day, pilgrims are advised to spend most of their time making supplications, reciting the Qur’an and chanting Talbiyyah. Magrib is not observed in Arafat, rather, they leave for Mina after sunset and make a stopover at Muzdalifah where they observe Maghrib at Masshar’ul haram mosque or open place. In this place, time is spent in making supplications and Talbiyyah, the night is a blessing; it is sunnah to stay at Muzdalifah.

Stones pebbles are picked here to move to perform Jamuratul Aqabah (the act of throwing seven pebbles) after Subhi the following morning, chanting Bismillahi Allah Akbar each time. Thereafter they change the invocation to that which glorifies Allah as follows: Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar; Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar; La iia’ha Ill Allah; Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar; Wal’amdu Lillah. Meaning: Allah is great 4ce; there is no other god but Allah; Allah is great 2ce; all praises belong to Allah alone. 

After the first Jamrah (stone-throwing), pilgrims can then make their sacrifice of cow, camel, Lamb, Sheep or Goat. In the alternative, tickets may also be bought for the same purpose. A pilgrim is then free to go for a haircut and put off the Ihram. These activities could also be delayed until the 11th or 12th day of Dhul Hijjah. The rule, however, is that Ihram could only be removed after the sacrifice….’’ And do not shave your heads until the offering reaches the place of sacrifice….’’Q: 196.  An alternative is fasting. ‘’….But if he cannot afford it, he should observe saum (fast) three days during the Hajj and seven days on his return, making ten days in all. This is for him whose family is not residents in Al-Masjid Al-Haram (non-resident of Makkah)..’’Q: 196. 

On the 11th day of Dhul Hijjah, pilgrims repeat the Jammrat of 21 pebbles. Anyone who has not performed Ta’waf Ifada will proceed to Makkah to observe this; otherwise, the pilgrims may choose to stay in Mina. In any case, the third Jamrah is due on the 12th day.

In Makkah, the performance of Ta’waf Ifada terminates the rites of Hajj. What remains is the Ta’waf Al-Wida (farewell Ta’waf) as soon as one is set to leave Makkah.

 Visit Medinah

After the Hajj, a visit to the blessed city of Madinah is also important (although it does not in any way vitiate your Hajj). You may want to visit these places: gravesite of the holy prophet, Masjid Kuba, Kiblatayn and Mount Uhud. Make supplications at the prophet’s mosque, and make salutations ( As-salam-alayka) at the grave of the prophet, Abu Bakr and Umar. Visit these places is only of spiritual and emotional values; never make any request at the gravesites.

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