The Process of Hajj
Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam and is obligatory for all the adult muslims who are financially and physically capable of performing it and have no restraints from their country. It is obligatory only once in a lifetime.
“In it are Signs manifest; (for example), the Station of Abraham; whoever enters it attains security; pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah, those who can afford the journey; but if any deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures.” (Aal-`Imraan: 97)
This is a beautiful form of worship which gathers Muslims from all round the world and spreads the message of equality and unity. Moreover, hajj, if accepted by Allah Subha na wa ta’ala, expiates all the sins of the believer insha’Allah, according to an authentic hadith of Prophet Mohammad (p.b.u.h).
The process of Hajj:
Hajj is a worship which takes 5-6 days. The rituals commence on the 8th of Dhu’l-Hijjah and end on 12th or 13th depending on the person and his capability.
• Niyyah and Ihram:
Niyyah is the foremost action. One is required to make pure, clear intention before starting the process of Hajj.
It is obligatory for all men who wish to perform hajj to change into a garb of two white un-sewn pieces of fabric. One piece is wound around the midriff, while the other covers shoulders and upper part of the body. The head of the pilgrim must be bare.
For women, there is no specific garb. They can wear ordinary clothes.
The ihram is worn before Fajr prayers of 8th Dhu’l-Hijjah, and from then onwards, all the worshippers recite Talbiyah:
‘Labbayk, Allahumma Labbayk.
Labbayk, La Shareeka laka labbayk.
Innal-hamda wan-ni’mata laka wal-mulk
La shareeka lak’
‘Here I am O Allah, (in response to Your call), here I am. Here I am, You have no partner, here I am. Verily all praise, grace and sovereignty belong to You. You have no partner.’
Related Article: Why and in What Ways is Hajj Important?
• Going to Mina:
The practical rituals of Hajj begin with the pilgrim leaving for Mina after the Fajr prayers, but before Zuhr prayers, on 8th Dhu’l-Hijjah and stays there till the dawn prayers of 9th Dhu’l-Hijjah. The pilgrim during this time, stays in tents in Mina, and can recite Qur’an, worship the Almighty Allah and rest.
• Going to Arafat:
On the 9th of Dhu’l-Hijjah, the pilgrim leaves after Fajr prayers for Arafat. He offers Zuhr and Asr prayers in Arafat. This period between Zuhr and Asr in Arafat is called Wuquf and it is the holiest time. During Wuquf, the pilgrim should recite Talbiyah as much as possible, ask for forgiveness from and pray to Al-Wahid, Al-Qayyum.
• Leaving for Muzdalifa:
At the time of Maghrib prayers, pilgrim has to leave Arafat, without offering the prayers, for Muzdalifa. Upon reaching here, he should offer Maghrib and Isha prayers in Jam’ (combined) mode. He is supposed to spend the night under the sky in Muzdalifa.
It is in Muzdalifa that pilgrims go to nearby hills and collect seventy pea-sized pebbles which will be used in Jamrat for stoning the pillars which signify Satan for three days.
• Back to Mina:
After staying in Muzdalifa for the night, the pilgrim is to go back to Mina after Fajr prayers. In Mina, the pilgrim has to stone three pillars which are built to signify devil and his temptations.
When he is done with stoning, the pilgrim should move on to slaughter an animal, such as a lamb, and distribute the meat among poor and needy.
Once the sacrifice has been carried out, the pilgrim is required to shave or trim his hair.
Now, the restrictions of the Ihram are lifted off from the pilgrim with the only exception of the intimate relationship between a husband and his wife which cannot be resumed as yet.
• Tawaf al-Ifadah and Sa’ee:
The pilgrim goes to Makkah on 10th of Dhu’l-Hijjah to perform Tawaf al-Ifadah and Sa’ee. After the completion of these two forms of worship, all the restrictions of the Ihram are now lifted off.
• Final days in Mina:
The pilgrim should stay in Mina till 12th of Dhu’l-Hijjah to perform the stoning of devil which is to take place once everyday till the 12th Dhu’l-Hijjah. It is not necessary for him to stay there all the time but he should stay for most part of the night in Mina.
If one wants, he may stay one more day in Mina and extend his hajj till 13th Dhu'l-Hijjah.
• Returning Home:
It is not the part of hajj, but before leaving Makkah, it is wajib for muslims to perform Tawaf-e-Widah (or farewell Tawaf) to mark the end of his holy journey. The Tawaf does not need to be followed by Sa’ee.