The Muslim Hajj
How many Muslims hajj each year?
In the great holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, about 2.5-3 million Muslims gather every year on Dhu al-Hijjah 8 for the annual pilgrimage known as the Hajj.
The five-day journey is a lifelong responsibility for all the houses of life that are physically and financially capable of fulfilling it. This belief considers being the fifth pillar of Islamic practice, offering five daily prayers, giving alms, and fasting Ramadan.
Inviting Muslims to perform the Hajj, the Qur’an says: “Announce the pilgrimage to the men: they will come to you on foot from a distant path and every lean camel.”
Why is Mecca important to Muslims?
Millions of Muslims around the world, who meet in Saudi Arabia every year, dress to cover up any differences in wealth and status. Women wear simple, white dresses and headscarves. Men dress smoothly, without any clothes.
As a Muslim and scholar of the Islamic world, I have interviewed many Muslims who have gone on Hajj. They told me to have deep experiences of pilgrimage, both politically and spiritually.
Types Of Hajj
There are three types of Hajj, namely:
What do Muslims do on Hajj?
During the Hajj, the pilgrims join the processions of millions of people, who simultaneously perform the Hajj on Saturday in Makkah, and perform various rituals: each person to the Kaaba (cube-shaped building and direction). Seven times he walks clockwise, Trots between the hills of Safa and Marwa, drinking wine from the Zamzam well seven times, standing on the plains of Mount Arafat, the field I spend a night in Muzdalifah, throwing stones at three pillars and throwing stones at the devil. After sacrificing an animal (can be accomplished using a voucher (see below)), pilgrims must then shave or trim their head (male) or trim the ends of their hair (female). The three-day international celebration of Eid al-Adha is moving forward.
The first day of Hajj
The Hajj rituals believe in reflecting events in the lives of famous prophets such as Ibraham and his son Ishmael.
The pilgrims announce their intention for the journey and then go around the black, cube-shaped house of God in the center of the Most Holy Mosque in Makkah seven times.
In doing so, they join a long line of pilgrims from Makkah who have circled the Kaaba, including the Prophet of Islam. Some people may kiss, touch, or reach the Kaaba to sign their respect and devotion. Of course, Muslims do not worship the Kaaba or any of its elements.
The Kaaba is such a central center of the Islamic faith that Muslims pray to it all over the world.
After circling the Kaaba, pilgrims walk about a hundred meters from the two hills known as Safa and Marwah, where they recreate another important event recorded in the Quran.
After Ismael was born, God instructed Ibraham to leave his newborn son and his mother, Hagar, in the desert, and this was done. But when Ishmael cried out in thirst, Hajar ran between the two hills in search of water, until at last, he turned to God for help.
God rewarded Hajar for his patience. He sent his angel Gabriel to show him a spring, which is known today as Zamzam Well. Pilgrims drink water from a sacred well on the first day of the Hajj before heading to Mecca – also known as the “Tent City” for their five daily prayers, about three miles from Mecca.
The second day of Hajj
Hajj lives in the plains of Arafat, nine miles from Mina.
There, pilgrims gather in tents and spend the day together in prayer and meditation. Some pilgrims will also climb the mountain in Mount Mercy’s name, where an elderly Prophet Muhammad delivered his farewell sermon.
For all Muslims, this is a special time of Hajj. Muslims believe that the Spirit of God comes close to the earth at this time of pilgrimage.
In my conversations with the pilgrims, many have told me that they feel close to God when they stand in Arafat’s plains.
The last three days
After collecting pebbles in an open area near Mecca, Muzdalifah, the pilgrims gathered again in the tent city of Mina. There, he revisits another part of the story about Ibraham and his son Ishmael: when Satan tried to disobey God’s call for Abraham to sacrifice his young son.
Ibrahim was restless. Ishmael was also willing to sacrifice as a prayer to God. To see the reaction of Satan’s temptation, the pilgrims throw their stones at the stone pillars.
Just as Ibraham was about to kill his son, the Qur’an says that God intervened, and a ram was sacrificed in Ismael’s place. In remembrance, pilgrims – or one animal will be sacrificed in their place. This year, Muslims worldwide join in the sacrifice by celebrating Eid al-Adha, an Eid meal on August 10 and 11.
As a final sacrifice, pilgrims shave their heads or cut off part of their hair after being stoned to death.
Many visitors will spend the next few days in Mina repeating the stoning. Most will return to the Kaaba at least once again in Makkah.
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