Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage where people travel to Mecca, the holy city of Islam. For Muslims, Hajj is obligatory religious duty to perform at least once in a lifetime. People who are financially and physically capable for Hajj must perform this religious duty once in a life. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, alongside Shahadah, Salat, Zakat, and Sawm. It is the largest annual gathering of people from different parts of the World at Mecca. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of unity for the Muslims and submission to Allah alone. The Hajj occurs from the 8th to 12th (in some cases 13th) of the Islamic month Dhu al-Hijjah. People who intent for Hajj, should wear Ihram. Ihram is the name given to the special spiritual state in which pilgrims wear two white sheets of seamless cloth. It also means to abstain from certain actions that are forbidden in the state of Ihram.
The Hajj is a Sunnah of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and a symbol of sacrifices in the way of Almighty Allah.During Hajj, people join processions of hundreds of thousands of people, who simultaneously converge at Mecca in the week of the Hajjand perform a series of rituals:
- Walking counter-clockwise seven times around the Kaaba.
- Running back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwah.
- Drinking from the Zamzam Well.
- Going to the plains of Mount Arafat to stand in vigil.
- Spending a night in the plain of Muzdalifa
- Stoning of the devil by throwing stones at three pillars.
- The pilgrims then shave their heads and perform a ritual of animal sacrifice. This also completes the celebration the three-day global festival of Eid al-Adha.
There are following three types of Hajj :
- Tamattu: A believer wears Ihram for Umrah only during the months of Hajj. This means the believer reaches Makkah and performs Tawaf and Sa'yi for Umrah. After that he shaves or clips the hair (Not for women believers). On the day of Tarwiya, which is the eighth of Dhul-Hijja, a believer puts on his/her Ihram for Hajj only and carries out all of its requirements.
- Ifraad: A believer wears Ihram for Hajj only. They reach Makkah and perform Tawaf for arrival and Sa'yi for Hajj. Shaving or clipping of hair (for men) is not required, as he does not disengage from Ihram. Instead, he remains in Ihram till he stones at Jamrah Al-Aqaba on the Eid day. It is permissible for him to postpone his Sa'yi for Hajj until after his Tawaf for Hajj.
- Qiran: A believer wears Ihram for both Umrah and Hajj. They put Ihram first for Umrah and then make intentions for Hajj before Tawaf for Hajj. The obligations on one performing Ifraad are the same as those on one performing Qiran, except that the latter must slaughter the animals
When the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be Upon Him) performed Tawaf and Sa'yi during the year of the Farewell Hajj with his companions, he ordered all those who had not brought sacrificial animals to change their intentions for Hajj to intentions for Umrah and cut their hair, and disengage from Ihram till Hajj. He said, "If I hadn't brought the sacrificial animal, I'd have done what I've ordered you to do".
The best of all the above is Tamattu'. It is the form that the Prophet Mohammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) encouraged Muslims to perform.
- Ihram for women is different from the men.
- Even if a pilgrim makes intentions to perform Qiran or Ifraad he is allowed to change his intentions to Tamattu'; he can do this even after he has performed Tawaf and Sa'yi.