As-salamu alaykum, my brothers and sisters. Today, we’re discussing an Islamic topic: What is Hajj? Why is it important in Islam. as we all know, Islam has five major pillars when we follow Islam, also known as pilgrimage.
Hajj is one of them. It occurs in the 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar, called Dhu al-Hijjah. All Muslims who are physically and financially able to do the Hajj need to do it at least once in their lifetime.
The Hajj is an important religious duty in Islam. Muslims worldwide see it as a symbol of unity, equality, spirituality, and submission to God. Its rituals trace back to the origins of the Islamic faith.
Today, with the help of this article, we will discuss the major things of Hajj. We will also discuss why it is important in Islam. We will also cover the main differences between Hajj and Umrah.
What is HAJJ?
The Hajj is fifth major pillar of Islam. There are five obligatory pillars for those who are physically and financially able to do the Hajj. They need to do it at least once in their lifetime.
Performing the Hajj rituals symbolizes total submission to Allah SWT’s will. For example, circling the Kaaba. Running between Safa and Marwa. And throwing stones.
The Hajj reinforces the Islamic teaching of equality. All pilgrims dress in simple, white, unstitched cloths called ihram. This strips away distinctions of class and culture.
Why is it Important
Hajj is important in Islam because it is the fifth pillar of Islam’s five obligatory pillars. Here are some key reasons why the Hajj is important in Islam and why Muslims perform the Hajj.
Performing Hajj is the commandment of Allah SWT. Allah says in Qurna “And proclaim that the people shall observe Hajj pilgrimage. They will come to you walking or riding on various exhausted (means of transportation). They will come from the farthest locations.” [Quran 22:27]
Indeed, as-Safa and al-Marwah are among the symbols of Allah. So whoever makes Hajj to the House or performs ‘umrah – there is no blame upon him for walking between them. And whoever volunteers good – then indeed, Allah is appreciative and Knowing. [Quran 2:158]
They ask you, [O Muhammad], about the new moons. Say, “They are measurements of time for the people and for Hajj.” And it is not righteousness to enter houses from the back, but righteousness is [in] one who fears Allah. And enter houses from their doors. And fear Allah that you may succeed. [Quran 2:189]
From all these Quran verses, we can understand the importance of the Hajj in Islam; these are some of the many verses about the Hajj that address how to perform Hajj. Here are also some hadith of the Prophet Muhammed about the performing hajj
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (ﷺ) was asked, “Which is the best deed?” He said, “To believe in Allah and His Apostle.” He was then asked, “Which is the next (in goodness)?” He said, “To participate in Jihad in Allah’s Cause.” He was then asked, “Which is the next?” He said, “To perform Hajj-Mabrur. “Sahih al-Bukhari 1519
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (p.b.u.h) said, “Whoever performs Hajj for Allah’s pleasure and does not have sexual relations with his wife, and does not do evil or sins then he will return (after Hajj free from all sins) as if he were born anew.”Sahih al-Bukhari 1521
What are the main differences between Hajj and Umrah?
Here are some major differences between hajj and Umrah.
- Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is obligatory for all able Muslims to perform once in a lifetime, while Umrah is not obligatory but is recommended to perform whenever possible.
- Hajj can only be performed on specific days of the 12th month (Dhu al-Hijjah) of the Islamic (Hijri) calendar, while Umrah can be performed any time of the year.
- Hajj has more obligatory rituals and restrictions associated with the state of ihram, Umrah has fewer rituals.
- Hajj rituals take place mainly in the plains of Arafat and Muzdalifah, while Umrah rituals take place in Mecca and focus on circumambulating the Kaaba and sa’ey between Safa and Marwah hills.
- A major ritual of Hajj is spending the day on Arafat plain, which is not part of Umrah.
- Hajj culminates with Eid al Adha and sacrificing an animal, which are not part of Umrah.
How Many Muslims Go On Hajj?
In Islam, performing Hajj is obligatory for those who are physically and financially able to do it. They need to do it at least once in their lifetime.
There are 1..9 billion Muslims in the world. Only a small fraction of them completes the Hajj annually nowadays.
According to Saudi Government data, in 2019, over 2.48 million pilgrims performed Hajj. And the highest number performing Hajj was nearly 3.2 million in 2012.
On average, 2 to 3 million Muslims fulfill the duty of Hajj every year. There are over 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. And Allah Knows the best.
What Happens On Hajj?
Here are 6 main rituals that Muslims follow during the Hajj.
- Ihram – Pilgrims enter a sacred state by donning special garments. For men, this is 2 white seamless sheets. Women wear normal modest clothes. They must avoid perfuming the body or cutting hair/nails until the pilgrimage is completed.
- Circumambulation and Sa’ey – Pilgrims circle the holy Kaaba shrine seven times in Mecca, followed by seven trips back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwah.
- Going to Arafat – On the 9th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, pilgrims travel to the desert plains of Arafat outside Mecca. They stand in contemplative vigil and offer supplications from noon to sunset. This is considered the climax of Hajj.
- Muzdalifah – At sunset, pilgrims proceed to spend the night at nearby Muzdalifah, where they gather pebbles to perform a stoning ritual.
- Throwing Stone – The next days involve symbolically casting stones at three stone pillars (Jamarat) to reenact Prophet Ibrahim’s rejection of Satan’s attempts to prevent him from sacrifice.
- Animal Sacrifice and Celebrations – On Eid al-Adha, cattle and sheep are sacrificed to commemorate Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail by divine order. Muslims worldwide celebrate Eid on this day. The Hajj nears completion.
How long does Hajj last?
The Hajj (pilgrimage) lasts approximately 5-6 days.
- The core rituals of Hajj span 4-5 days, starting on the 8th day of the last month (Dhu al-Hijjah) in the Islamic (Hijri) lunar calendar.
- The most intense rituals occur from the 1st to the 5th days of this month. The Day of Arafat (9th Dhu al-Hijjah), when pilgrims stand in prayer on the plains, marks the peak of Hajj.
- After the Day of Arafat, the remaining Hajj rituals occur over the next 3 days – stoning Jamarah pillars in Mina over 3-4 days, sacrificing an animal on Eid al-Adha (10th of Dhu al-Hijjah), then making a final circumambulation of the Holy Kaaba in Mecca.
- The core days conclude with Eid celebrations on the 10th to the 13th days of Dhu al-Hijjah. So the entire Hajj starting from donning ihram usually concludes within 5-6 days after this.
In Islam, performing Hajj is obligatory for those who are physically and financially able. They need to do it at least once in their lifetime.
If Allah SWT gives you health and wealth, then you should fulfill this commandment of Allah SWT. And this is also a good opportunity to see the house of Allah and Roza e Rasool.
If you wish to perform the Hajj, then you should ask Allah to make it easy for you and all Muslims. May Allah call us for Hajj and Umrah.