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Hajj and Umrah

Hajj is a sacred pilgrimage, performed annually by Muslims, to Masjid al-Haram (the Sacred Mosque erected by Prophet Abraham) in Mecca. It is the 5th pillar of Islam and is expected to be completed once in a Muslim’s lifetime.

The importance of Hajj is not limited to it being an opportunity to seek forgiveness for past sins but it allows believers to connect to Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) through the rituals of Hajj. The Hajj pilgrimage also brings together the global Muslim community from all corners of the world, synchronized in a profound ritual before the One God as a single family despite their differences in race, ethnicity, and ages.

Hajj takes place in and around the holy city of Mecca, located in present day Saudi Arabia. Some of the Hajj rites take place at the Ka’bah (the epicenter of Ancient Mosque built by Prophet Abraham), others at the nearby hills of Safa and Marwa (where Hagar sought drinking water for her child), and others outside the mosque at Mina, Muzdalifa, and Mount Arafah.

Hajj occurs during the first 13 days of the month of Dhul-Hijjah, the 12th or last month of the Islamic (lunar) Calendar with the rituals starting primarily on the 8th day of Dhul-Hijjah.  Some scholars hold that the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah are last the final 10 days of Prophet Moses’ 40 night repose with God at Mount Sinai, wherein Allah communicated with him directly and gave him the 10 commandments.

Hajj typically lasts 5-6 days, starting on the 8th or 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic (lunar) Calendar, and ending on the 12th or 13th day of Dhul-Hijjah.

Hajj is required by all physically and financially able Muslims. It is required to be performed once in a Muslim’s lifetime.

Hajj is comprised of 5 main rituals –  Arafat, Jamarat, Udhiya, Sa’i, and Tawaf – and the following steps:

  1. Go into a state of Ihram and make your intentions to perform Hajj.
  2. Proceed to the city of Mina where the day is spent in prayer and the remembrance of Allah.
  3. From Mina to the city of Arafat where the day is spent in prayer and du’a. For Muslims not performing Hajj, many will choose to fast on this day.
  4. After sunset, proceed to Muzdalifa where many will collect pebbles for Jamarat.
  5. Depart Muzdalifa before sunrise to Mina for Jamarat – the throwing of 7 stones at the 3 columns. 
  6. After Jamarat, pilgrims will perform the Udhiya, which is the humane slaughter of a sacrificial animal whose meat is mostly distributed to the poor.
  7. The men trim or shave their heads and women will trim a finger length of their hair.
  8. Pilgrims will then proceed to the Ancient Mosque (aka the Ka’ba) to circle around it 7 times in devotion to God and/or pace between the hills of Safa and Marwa 7 times.
  9. When complete, the pilgrims will then return to Mina to repeat stoning at the Jamarat and then return back to Mecca and perform the Farewell Tawaf.

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