Hajj takes place between the 8th and 13th of Dhul-Hijjah (twelfth month of the Muslim calendar) and is a series of religious activities between these dates and there are different types of Hajj with slight variations. Before Muslims leave their home to go to Hajj they must do various things. They must obtain a free hajj Visa from the Saudi Consulate giving the pilgrim the right to go to Mecca, Arafat and other areas on Hajj as well as the right to go to Medina.
Various Pieces of documentation must be given including a passport which is valid for at least another six months. Furthermore, the Hajji must take a series of vaccinations including meningitis and get a certificate of vaccination from their doctor to be able to get a Hajj Visa. Furthermore, female pilgrims must be accompanied by a Mahram (chaperone who is an immediate family member) unless over forty-five then she may be in an organised group during Hajj.
The pilgrim will also need to book tickets, obtain accommodation and probably obtain a guide for the duration of Hajj. The Pilgrim will probably get a travel agent who offers Hajj packages to sort out the tickets, accommodation and produce an itinerary for the pilgrim.
There are various other preparations and prerequisites for Hajj. The pilgrim must be mature enough and knowledgeable enough to understand fully the significance of Hajj. Therefore, many pilgrims undertake Hajj lessons and buy or borrow books to prepare mentally and spiritually for hajj by learning about the pilgrimage, conditions to perform Hajj correctly and learn various supplications.
The pilgrim must be able pay for all the expenses of Hajj but also provide for any dependents until their return and the money must be from Halal (legitimate) sources. Moreover, the Muslim community raise money for those who cannot go on Hajj without their financial aid. The pilgrim should also make a last will and testimony in case they die during Hajj. Furthermore, all debts and financial responsibilities will be tried to be resolved before starting the journey. The pilgrim will also seek forgiveness and try to make amends with those who he or she may have hurt in the past.
Before the pilgrim leaves for Hajj he or she will make sure to take ihram, medicine, money to buy food during Hajj, travellers cheques, a Qur’an, razors, Musalla (prayer mat) and various other things for use during Hajj as well as an inflatable pillow and heavy sheet for sleeping on during the night at Muzdalifah. The hajji will also make sure to take a sturdy suitcase with a lock. The pilgrim if living far away will travel by plane to Jeddah international airport before heading to Mecca to perform their hajj. Then during their pilgrimage they will probably be lead by a mutawwif (official guide).
Firstly, after arriving in Saudi Arabia the pilgrim who wants to perform Hajj al-Tamattu’ (greater pilgrimage) will perform the Umrah. The person will bathe then put on the Ihram and pronounce his intention to perform Umrah before the 8th of Dhul-Hijjah before entering the area of Miqat. The state of Ihram is an obligatory rite in performing Hajj or Umrah which involves males wearing 2 pieces of un-sewn and plain cloth. One piece is wrapped around the midriff to cover the body from the navel to the ankles’, and is forty-five by one hundred and twenty inches in size and is called the Izar. The other cloth is arranged around the shoulder to cover the upper body and is forty-five by seventy-two inches and is called the Reda’. Women are not required to wear the cloth and wear their Hijab.
However, women are not allowed to cover their faces. Various acts are also restricted whilst in the state of ihram including: cutting hair, putting on perfumes or killing animals. The Talbiyyah (proclamation of obedience) is also said as often as possible from when the pilgrim begins wearing the Ihram until the end of Hajj. Male pilgrims will say the Talbiyyah loudly while females will say it quietly. The pilgrim must also wear the Ihram before crossing the boundaries of Miqat which are marked by different locations around the Ka’aba. It is also recommended that the pilgrim perform two Rak’at (unit) of Nafl prayer at Miqat.
Then pilgrims will make sure to make Wudu (ritual ablution) before entering the Haram Sharif where the Ka’aba is located. The pilgrim will always try to enter the mosque by entering with their right foot first. The pilgrim will then perform two rak’at of Nafl prayer as with every time the pilgrim enters a mosque and perform the obligatory prayer if it is time for it. The pilgrim will then find a space on the four floors of the Great mosque to pray. The pilgrim will then perform three and a half anti-clockwise circumambulations of the ka’aba starting from the south east corner, in which the black stone is situated, whilst getting closer to the ka’aba and then kiss the black stone if possible and if not then raise the hand in salute to greet the stone when close to it and say Takbeer. Then the pilgrim will then complete three and a half more circumambulations of the ka’aba as the pilgrim moves away from the ka’aba thus completing Tawaf.
The pilgrims will perform the first three circumambulations quickly and then four circumambulations slowly during Tawaf this is known as Ramal. The male pilgrims must also perform al-ldhtebaa by placing the middle of the Reda’ under the right arm and the ends of it over the left shoulder during Tawaf. The pilgrims whilst going round the ka’aba will also pray and perform various supplications as well as stop for the daily prayers and try to keep the Ka’aba on their left. After completing the Tawaf, the pilgrims will pray two Rak’at at the Maqam Ibrahim (Ibrahim’s station). Then during the First rak’at Surah al-Kafirun (those who reject faith) is recited and in the second rak’at Surah al-Ikhlas (purity of faith) .The pilgrim then returns to the black stone and recites Surah 2:158 before leaving the Haram Sharif.
The Muslim on pilgrim will then go to an underground hall to drink from taps fed from the zamzam well. Then the pilgrim will then go to the small rocky hills of Safa which is about 200 yards from the Ka’aba, and Marwah which is about 150 yards from the ka’aba to perform Sa’y. The pilgrim will then walk on marble walkways between the hills which are now enclosed by domes. There are two levels with four lanes each, two going in each direction plus an additional lane on the bottom level for wheel chair users, stretchers and for other vulnerable pilgrims. The pilgrim will start at Safa and walk between the hills seven times which are 420 metres apart, and each time the pilgrim walks between the mountains, he or she performs a Sa’y. The pilgrim will however, run when green markers along the path indicate to run.
Each time the pilgrim reaches the summit of either hill, he or she will face the Ka’aba say a supplication and raise their hand. After finishing Sa’y, the pilgrim will have completed the Umrah (lesser pilgrimage). The pilgrim will then break his or her Ihram by cutting hair by starting from the right side of the head. In addition, female pilgrims will cut a fingers tip length of her. Males will not shave their head yet to make sure enough is left to be able to shave after Hajj. Moreover, various other things such as having a shower and changing to normal clothes are allowed for the pilgrim. The pilgrim will then spend their time in Mecca; fasting, praying and reciting the Qur’an waiting till the 8th of Dhul-Hijjah.
On the 8th of Dhul-Hijjah (day of Tarwiya) the pilgrim officially begins Hajj. The pilgrim will perform the Fajr prayer and then the Niyyah (intention) for Hajj and put on the Ihram. Soon after the Fajr prayer but before Zuhr prayer, the pilgrim will travel seven kilometres east to Mina to set up camp. At Mina they will stay the night in one of several large tents located in sections according to the area of the world the pilgrim comes from with various toilets and washing facilities nearby. The pilgrim is not allowed to cook but can buy from street vendors or eat from their own supplies. Pilgrims will perform their daily prayers at the al-Khalif Mosque in Mina if possible and if not then outside the mosque or in their tents. They will perform the four Rak’at prayers: Zuhr, Asr and Isha but instead of four Rak’at will perform two but will make sure not to combine prayers.
The next day on the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah the pilgrims will then pray Fajr before leaving Mina soon after sunrise. The pilgrim will then travel another twelve kilometres east to the plain of Arafat by foot, bus or other vehicle. There are tents and trees at Arafat provided for shade from the heat. The pilgrim will then pray the Zuhr and Asr prayers in Qasr (shortened) and Jam’ (combined) form. The prayers consist of two rak’ats each instead of four and are offered at the same time with one Adhan (call to prayer) and two Iqamahs (second call to prayer). Furthermore, no Nafl (voluntary) prayers are preformed at Arafat. Whilst staying in Arafat the pilgrim will send the whole time reading the Qur’an, praying, asking for forgiveness and reciting the Talbiyah. Then the pilgrims will assemble on the plain of Arafat marked by a stone pillar and if possible at the Mount of Mercy where they will perform Wuquf (standing) by standing from noon to sunset praying, and meditating whilst facing the direction of the Qiblah and raising their hands in supplication to Allah. The pilgrim will also listen to and recite Muhammad’s farewell sermon.
After sunset a canon will be fired signifying the end of Wuquf and the pilgrim will travel eight kilometres quietly to the valley of Muzdalifah, a flat area smaller then the plain of Arafat, whilst reciting the Talbiyah and other prayers. The pilgrim then offers Maghrib after the Adhan and Iqamah before a second Iqamah which is before the Isha prayer shortened to two rak’at and combined with Maghrib. Then the pilgrims spend the night under the skies as there are no lodging facilities but there are ablution and toilet facilities that can be used. The next morning the pilgrims walk to the foot of nearby hills and collect 49 pea sized pebbles in groups of seven. Furthermore, none should leave Muzdalifah before the Fajr prayer the next day with ought a legitimate reason: only women, the elderly and the frail are loud to leave after midnight.
After offering Fajr prayer or leaving after midnight the pilgrim will head to Mina before sunrise on the morning of the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah. The pilgrim will go through the al-Mash’ar al-Haram (Mecca) and make du’a (petition) to Allah until the brightness of the sun is extensive. The pilgrim then walks briskly when passing by the Muhasir valley. When the pilgrim arrives at Mina he or she will perform Rummy (stoning ceremony) over the next few days. The pilgrim will throw stones at al-Kubra (pillar) which is the closest to Mecca and the largest of the three pillars at Mina. The pilgrim will do this preferably before noon making sure that the stones touch the inside of the Jamrat’s fence and will throw either under or over the bridge near the pillar. The pilgrim will throw seven stones at the pillar while saying ‘In the name of God! Allah is Almighty!’ as well as shouting the Takbeer. The elderly and infirm may get another person or persons to through stones on behalf of them. After throwing at the first pillar, the pilgrim will make a sacrifice before returning to stone the two other pillars.
After the stoning ceremony, Eid-ul-Adha (festival of sacrifice) is celebrated on the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah and continues for two more days. A sacrifice (Qurbani) is required for pilgrims performing Hajj al-Tamattu or Hajj al-Qiran if they can afford it to. The pilgrim sacrifices a sheep which is at least 6 months old, a goat which is at least one year old, a cow which is at least two years old or a camel which is five years old. The cow or camel can be sacrificed and is worth seven offerings and so seven people can use it to fulfil their Qurbani requirements. The pilgrim can then appoint another to sacrifice the animal or slaughter it themselves. The pilgrim looks for the best animal possible avoiding unhealthy animals with blindness and other defects. The pilgrim consumes one third of the sacrifice, donates another third to the poor and gives the rest as a gift to friends and family. The pilgrim must sacrifice the animal between the 10th and 13th of Dhul-Hijjah; however, its is more desirable to perform it on the 10th
After the stoning of the pillar there is a partial ending of Ihram with all restrictions except a matrimonial relationship with the pilgrim’s spouse. Then a male pilgrim can cut or shave a male pilgrims hair starting from the right side of the head as well as. In addition, female pilgrims must cut at least a fingers tip length of her. Moreover, various other things such as having a shower and changing to normal clothes are allowed for the pilgrim.
The pilgrim will then return to the Masjid al-Haram for Tawaf al-Ifadah if performing Hajj al-Tamattu’. If the pilgrim preformed the other two types of Hajj and preformed the visiting Tawaf and sa’y then they do not need to perform say again. The pilgrim can postpone this Tawaf and menstruating women will delay it until the period has finished. The pilgrim will then repeat the actions of the Tawaf al-Qudum, the prayer at the Maqam Ibrahim, drinking from the Zamzam well and Sa’y but Ihram and Ramal is not required.
The pilgrims then return to Mina on the 11th of Dhul-Hijjah. Whilst staying in Mina the pilgrims pray two rak’at instead of four rak’at in the Zuhr, Asr and Isha daily prayers as well as the pilgrims having the opportunity to obtain knowledge from the Islamic scholars in Mina. Then on the 11th of Dhul-Hijjah, in after noon the pilgrim then throws seven stones at the Jamrat al-Uula, then Jamrat al-Wusta and finally Jamrat al-Kubra, and recites the Takbeer: ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great) at each Jamrat. The pilgrim also makes various du’as at the Jamrats. The pilgrim repeats this process on the 12th of Dhul-Hijjah. The pilgrim may then leave Mina and go to Mecca before Maghrib on the 12th of Dhul-Hijjah and then the pilgrim would undertaking the Tawaf al-Wada (farewell Tawaf) on the 12th . However, the pilgrim can stay a further day and repeat the process of the 11th of Dhul-Hijjah.
After throwing stones on the 13th of Dhul-Hijjah the pilgrim will go to Mecca to perform Tawaf al-Wada and visiting and praying at Maqam Ibrahim. This concludes the Hajj and the pilgrim will leave immediately as it is recommended to do so. The pilgrim may then buy Zamzam water which is said to have healing properties. The pilgrim is then recommended to go to the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina where the prophet Muhammad is buried although this I not officially part of Hajj but Medina is relatively close to Mecca, and so it is easy to visit it before or after Hajj.