What is Hajj and how to perform Hajj?
What is Hajj?
“What is Hajj?” is a most commonly asked question. It is the holy trip of Muslims to the sacred sites of Islam for attaining the happiness of Allah Almighty. It is a mandatory worship that is highly recommended for the people who have the ability to bear its expenses.
Why Hajj is performed?
Muslims perform Hajj as it is one of the five basic pillars of Islam. Those who have the ability to meet its expenses and do not perform it are at fault. Allah Almighty has made it compulsory for Muslims to perform this sacred worship. It is performed to:
- Get rid of the past sins
- To visit the sacred sites
- To achieve the closeness of Allah and His Prophet.
- To end poverty
- Show Muslim unity in front of the whole world
- Creating brotherhood and love among Muslims of all the corners of the world.
Factors for Hajj obligation:
Hajj pilgrimage possesses immense significance for Muslims because it is a fundamental pillar of the Islamic faith. For all the able Muslims, حج is obligatory to be performed (once in a lifetime). For which, millions of Muslim pilgrims travel from across the globe for the holy rituals annually. That’s why hajj is also known as the ‘Obligatory pilgrimage’ or the ‘Major Pilgrimage’.
- Hajj obligation:
حج pilgrimage is an obligation for all adult Muslims who also possess the ability to afford it by all means. It remains the fifth pillar of Islam to perform hajj rituals. So, if anyone doesn’t do so, it’s a sinful act.
Here’s a brief description of the factors for حج obligation for a believer.
- Being a Muslim:
The first, and by far the most important requirement of Hajj performance, is that the pilgrim must be a Muslim i.e., he/she has embraced Shahadah. No non-Muslim is allowed to enter the holy cities of Makkah or Madinah as per the law, let alone perform the holy rituals. Therefore, in order to perform حج and enter the holy cities where these rituals take place, one has to be a believer of the Islamic faith.
Secondly, accountability is also a deciding factor for the obligation of hajj for a Muslim. This means that to offer حج rituals, a person should be physically as well as mentally aware of it. For instance,
- Being of appropriate age to understand its obligation.
- Know why they are performing Hajj; its significance, conditions, sanctity, and its benefits.
- Understanding rituals of حج and the proper way of performing them.
- Abiding by the prohibitions of Ihram.
Therefore, without the realization of the true meaning of Hajj (which is only for the sake of Allah Almighty) hajj performance is not valid.
- Possessing the means to afford it:
Among the many requisites of hajj travel, it’s the most important one. A Muslim is considered to be able to perform حج if and only he/she;
- Can easily afford all the expenses of hajj travel i.e., from reaching the sacred city of Makkah to returning home.
- Possess the mental sanity for it.
- Remains healthy and fit to perform all of the حج rituals without any difficulty or health threats.
- Is free to travel i.e., no political/geographical restrictions are imposed for him/her to travel for hajj.
So, if all of the above-mentioned conditions satisfy, only then does a حج pilgrimage become obligatory for a believer. For such a person, it’s recommended to offer the holy rituals as soon as possible without delay.
Fundamental rituals of Hajj:
Hajj is the annual spiritual pilgrimage that is undertaken by millions of Muslims from across the globe traveling. حج is obligatory to be performed at least once in a lifetime by a believer who possesses the physical as well as the financial means for it.
Every year, Hajj rituals are observed in Dhul Hijjah from the 8th day of this month to the 12th day i.e., for five days. In this time, pilgrims perform a lot of different rituals by traveling to multiple places.
Here's a brief description of the fundamental rituals of حج.
Ihram is the first ritual of hajj and it must be assumed by all of the pilgrims before crossing the Miqat boundary. Otherwise, a penalty is due if one passes the Miqat region without being in Ihram.
There is a total of five different Miqat regions present at all corners of Makkah. Hence, the location of Miqat will be different for every individual pilgrim according to his/her region of travel.
After the completion of rituals of Umrah, pilgrims of حج must re-assume their Ihram and this time declare their intentions to do Hajj i.e., making Niyyah.
Stay in Mina:
After the morning prayers, all pilgrims head towards the tent city of Mina, where they would stay an entire day carrying out ritual prayers.
On the second day of حج , pilgrims move towards the Arafat region from Mina while making supplications. Upon arrival at Mount Arafat, pilgrims offer Dhuhr and Asr (combined with Qasar prayers) from noon to sunset and this act is known as Wuqoof-e-Arafat.
Prayers in Muzdalifah:
After sunset, pilgrims will now travel to Muzdalifah to offer the evening prayers and rest the night there until Fajr prayers. During this time, pilgrims also prepare themselves for the next day’s ritual of ‘Rami-al-Jamarat’ by picking up 49 pebbles of similar size.
On the 11th and 12th days of Hajj, pilgrims must perform Rami-al-Jamarat. In this ritual, seven pebbles are thrown at a stone structure known as Jamarat-al-Aqabah.
After the rami ritual is complete, pilgrims perform the Nahr ritual in which they sacrifice an animal.
Halq or Taqsir:
After the animal sacrifice is performed, male pilgrims perform Halq by getting their heads completely shaved. On the other hand, female pilgrims opt for Taqsir by clipping only a fingertip’s length of their hair.
The last rite of the hajj pilgrimage is the performance of Farewell Tawaf in Makkah.
These are some of the very fundamental yet significant rites of حج pilgrimage that are compulsory to be performed by every pilgrim.
Three types of Hajj:
Hajj is not only of a single type. When you intend to perform Hajj you have to keep in mind the types of حج and also choose on type of Hajj that is for you to perform. You can choose one type of حج from the following three types:
- Hajj Ifrad
- Hajj Qiran
- Hajj Tamattu
These three are the types of حج. One type is chosen from these types. It depends upon the time that you have to perform the Hajj. The best type of حج (Hajj Tamattu) is time taking. If you don’t have much time you should choose one among other two.
1: What is Hajj Ifrad?
Hajj Ifrad is that type of Hajj in which you have to perform حج only without performing Umrah. Hajj is the important way to make Allah happy. If you have not much time to stay in Makkah and Madinah you should assume the niyyah of Hajj Ifrad. In this type of حج you don’t need to perform Umrah and also you don’t need to sacrifice the animals. It ends in five days. If you do not have enough time to stay you can return to home in five days and can continue your work again. It is performed in five days that starts from 8th of Dhu al Hajjah to 12th of Dhu al Hajjah. The performer of this type of Hajj is called Mufrid.
2: What is Hajj Qiran?
It is another type of performing Hajj. In this type of حج you assume the niyyah of Umrah also. You do not need to perform mini pilgrimage separate. When you perform Hajj you perform the rites of mini pilgrimage also. Those rites of حج are also the rites of mini Hajj. It means that you perform Hajj within the five days and can go back to home on the 12th of Dhu al Hajjah. This is considered as the short way of collecting the blessings of Allah and also performing the two pilgrimages at once. Performer of this type of Hajj is called Qarin.
3: What is Hajj Tamattu?
It is the third type of Hajj and considered as the best type of Hajj. Holy Prophet (PBUH) recommended Muslims to perform this kind of Hajj. It takes a long time. Muslims perform mini حج first and then they wait for the 8th of Dhu al Hajjah. They get their heads shaved after performing mini pilgrimage and on the 8th of Dhu al Hajjah they start the rites of حج and these rites of Hajj end on 12th of Dhu al Hajjah. It is time taking. One should have two weeks to stay in Makkah and money to afford his stay.
Holy Prophet performed which type of Hajj?
Holy Prophet recommended all the three types of Hajj to Muslims and liked all the three types because these are the source to become the guest of Allah Almighty. Some scholars say that Holy Prophet himself performed Hajj Tamattu and some say that he performed Hajj Ifrad. But it is confirmed that he recommended Hajj Tamattu.
Tips for hiring the best Hajj packages:
Hajj is a religious obligation for all able Muslims. For which, millions travel every year through hajj packages offered in UK and other countries. Arriving in Makkah, they gather for the holy rituals to be commenced from the 8th of Dhul-Hijjah. Nearly four million pilgrims arrive for hajj rituals every year and the figures keep on increasing every year. So, in such a crowded time for pilgrimage travel, how can one hire the best حج deals?
Here are some of the tips you can utilize to hire the best hajj packages.
Among the most convenient ways to get the best حج deals, in terms of both its cost and provision of services, pre-booking your trip remains advised.
Not only does pre-booking your hajj travel help to get the most discounted deals in the market but also one can avail plenty of complimentary services offered by different airlines and hotels.
Additionally, booking early also saves you from the hassle of last-minute arrangements which usually result in a lot of stress and thus cause mismanagement.
- Make Clear your Demands:
When you are hiring travel packages for your hajj pilgrimage, always remember to specify all of your demands to the agent. For instance;
- What sort of travel services you are hoping to have there?
- The type of accommodation you need i.e., economy or luxury.
- Transportation services that might or might not need.
- Whether you want to have travel insurance or not?
In short, everything else of the sort. Even if you have any specific demands, ask your agent to make arrangements for them beforehand.
Specifying your demands to the travel agent will not only help you determine your travel costs better but also give your travel agent a better understanding of the type of Hajj travel services you are hoping for. All in all, helping to curate the best-customized travel deals for individual customers.
- Market Research:
Don’t ever buy the first hajj package you are offered with, always compare and then buy one. It’s advised that you must visit different agencies first; get quotes for different types of hajj deals they are offering and then hire the one that is best compatible with your needs and budget.
Despite this, market research will also help to understand market trends better. Thus, paving the way for competitive pricing and services from your travel agent.
- Hire a reputable agency:
For your hajj travel, always hire packages from a reputable travel agency. You can easily validate the credibility of the travel agent by going through its travel records; consulting their customers’ reviews, and getting recommendations.
These are some of the fundamental tips that you can employ for hiring the best hajj packages.
Hajj travel tips:
For all the able Muslims, hajj is an obligation to be fulfilled as the fifth pillar of the Islamic faith. If a believer has the mental, physical as well as the financial capability for it, performing a hajj pilgrimage is obligatory at least once in a lifetime. Though it’s a dream of every Muslim, only a few are fortunate enough to get this opportunity (whoever Allah wills). For which, millions of pilgrims arrive annually through hajj packages from all over the world for the holy rituals in Makkah.
As hajj pilgrimage isn’t something a believer performs daily, one might easily get confused about the rituals associated and the proper way of performing them. In fact, arranging your travel for hajj is itself a challenging task.
So here are some hajj travel tips for you:
1: Buy an all-inclusive travel package:
Hiring an all-inclusive hajj travel package and that too from a credible travel agent would save you from a lot of travel-related hassles. For instance;
- You won’t have to worry about any of the visa documentation or legal travel procedures.
- Your hotel and flight bookings will be taken care of by the agent.
- All of your international stay remain insured.
- Your trip itineraries are not only pre-planned but also efficiently arranged by the company.
In short, one only has to pay the price and get itself ready for a spiritual journey of a lifetime; leaving the booking hassles for the travel agent.
In this way, not only client’s peace of mind is guaranteed but also one saves a lot of time and energy.
2: Intend honestly:
If a believer is blessed with the opportunity to undertake the hajj pilgrimage, he/she should never delay its performance. In fact, when you are finally getting on board for the hajj pilgrimage, always intend honestly and with the rightful intentions of performing it for the sole pose of pleasing Allah Almighty. Therefore, making lots of duas to Allah to grant you the health, ability, strength and resources to complete the holy journey safely and properly.
After hiring the hajj travel package, it’s time that you re-estimate your travel costs depending upon the time you are planning to stay in Kingdom. In this way, you would efficiently and quite accurately budget for all of your travel, accommodation and other living expenses. While also, keeping something extra saved for any sort of emergencies.
4: Prioritize your health:
Before departing to the kingdom for the holy pilgrimage it is advised to get an overall health check-up done by a registered medical practitioner. So that you can better know about your current physical condition; precautions to take, the medication that you might need and things to avoid.
In addition, vaccinating yourself properly is not only a recommendation but also a requirement for all of the hajj pilgrims by the Saudi Government.
5: Travel light:
For the holy rituals, it's always advised to travel light i.e., by keeping only your essentials with you. It includes your;
- Travel documents.
- Items of personal and oral hygiene.
- Necessary footwear and clothing.
So, these are some of the basic hajj travel tips for your pilgrimage travel.
Five days of Hajj explained:
The major pilgrimage of Hajj remains obligatory for every able Muslim as the fifth fundamental pillar of Islam. Muslims who can afford Hajj travel physically, mentally, financially as well as there are no travel restrictions imposed for them; حج is obligatory to be performed at least once in their lifetime. That’s why hundreds of thousands of pilgrims arrive annually for the holy rituals of hajj.
The rituals of Hajj are performed during Dhul-Hijjah (the last month of an Islamic year). For five days i.e., from the 8th of Dhul-Hijjah till the 12th of Dhul-Hijjah, these rituals continue.
Here’s a brief description of the five days of Hajj:
1: 8th of Dhul-Hijjah:
Hajj rituals are commenced from the 8th of Dhul-Hijjah which is the first day of hajj. Pilgrims being reminded of their duties and obligations; Ihram is assumed from the Meeqat region.
After the performance of morning prayers, pilgrims make their way to Mina’s tent city. It is about 8 kilometers away from Masjid-al-Haram and pilgrims of Hajj stay there for the whole day, observing noon, afternoon, evening, and night prayers.
2: 9th of Dhul-Hijjah:
After the dawn prayers, pilgrims now make their way from the Mina region to Arafat on the second day of Hajj. There, pilgrims devote their time to supplicating and seeking forgiveness from Allah Almighty.
Pilgrims of Hajj also listen to Hajj sermon near the Jabal Al-Rahmah (The Mount of Mercy) and this particular act is known as ‘Wuqoof-e-Arafat’. After sunset, pilgrims leave Arafat, making their way to Muzdalifah.
In the Muzdalifah region, pilgrims spend the entire night beneath the open sky praying and also gathering pebbles for the next day’s ritual of ‘Rami-al-Jamarat’.
3: 10th of Dhul-Hijjah:
The third day of Hajj known as ‘Yawm-ul Hajj-al-Akbar’ is begun in Muzdalifah as pilgrims start heading back to Mina before dawn. Upon their arrival in the Mina region, pilgrims perform the first Rami (throwing seven pebbles at the largest of three columns known as Jamarat).
After the stoning rituals, male pilgrims must trim/shave their heads while women are only permitted to cut only the tips of their hair.
Pilgrims then buy vouchers for the Nahar ritual i.e., that allow an animal to be slaughtered in their name.
4: 11th of Dhul-Hijjah:
On the fourth day of Hajj, pilgrims stay in Mina for 2-3 days and complete their Rami rituals by throwing seven pebbles at each of the three pillars.
After their stay in Mina is over, they return to Masjid-al-Haram and perform the farewell Tawaf.
5: 12th of Dhul-Hijjah:
On the fifth and final day, pilgrims reaching Masjid-al-Haram perform their Farewell Tawaf and thus marking the end of Hajj rituals.
After the farewell Tawaf is performed, pilgrims either start returning to their homes or opt for Ziyarah of the holy sites in the region.
Common Errors in Hajj:
Performing HAJJ is the most awaited moment for every Muslim. These holy events are performed by the believers to lift their souls and get close to ALLAH SWT to seek forgiveness. To perform حج is very easy nowadays by availing of Cheap Hajj Packages offered by travel agencies. While performing HAJJ we have seen people exhibit many mistakes. Some common mistakes committed during حج by hajis are below.
- Acceptance of DUA at the first look of the HOLY KABBAH:
Many people have the idea that when the first time that they ever fixed eyes on the HOLLY Kabah, any DUA that they make must be quickly answered. This is not right.
- Kissing the Black Stone from Distance & Discontinuing Mid-Tawaf:
The act of kissing the black stone is a beautiful Sunnah and integrity for all those who can do so. However, as there is a huge gathering, most of the people cannot reach the stone and therefore send kisses from distance. When they are on track with the black stone, these people stop right in their ways to kiss the black stone. They fail to understand that stopping abruptly causes disturbance in the flow of the Tawaf.
- Shouting out the DUA in Harmony:
Some people during their hajj tend to shout at the very top of their vocal sound in the union. While reading DUA while performing Tawaf. This creates confusion for the other hajis as it makes them drop their concentration. The better thing to do is to mark a list of Dua which you may read during Tawaf.
- Description of specific DUA’S for Different Rounds of the Tawaf:
Some visitors entitle specific Dua’s to be read on different circles of the Tawaf. Different books allow different Dua’s for every circle of the Tawaf. This is not correct to do that because there are no definite rules for Dua.
- Thinking that the Jamarat is the Devil:
When people go to pebble the Jamarat they often have the erroneous idea in their head. They think that they are going to pebble the devil. This thinking is however not at all right. The Jamarat are not the devil. All we can and should do is to through pebbles to these Jamarat as an act of worship.
- Hair cut after SAEE:
People start cutting their hair in as soon as they complete their mini pilgrimage at the end of SAEE on Safa and Marwa Mountain. They cut their hair from 2, 3 head parts and consider it finished with mini Hajj. But the right way of doing this is to go to the proper barber and ask him to cut your hair from all over the head.
- Wiping or Touching the KAABAH:
People while performing the hajj tend to think that touching the KAABAH or MUQAM IBRAHIM will bring them blessings. These people wipe their hands over the pillars of the Grand Mosque and they believe they are getting blessings this concept is incorrect.
- Preparing of 40 prayers is required in MADINAH:
Some people think that it is essential to complete the 40 prayers in the Prophet Mosque (PBUH). They think it is an essential part of HAJJ. However, it is not so. It is a good thing none the less however it is not essential.
- Tiring IHRAM below Waist:
I have also seen people tiring IHRAM below the waist. Thus the area below the belly button is visible to everyone. This is a private area and every Muslim must hide it from others.
- Doing Tawaf on behalf of somebody else:
Several human beings make this error each year of circumambulating the HOLY KAABAH seven times and then give the reward of this action to their family or loved ones who are either unable or passed away. This is not effective.