By Fatima Muraina
Hajj is a way of worship and among the important five pillars of Islam which remains the greatest religious duties in Islam. Other pillars are Iman or faith, Saalat or prayer, sawm or fasting and Zakat or poor rate.
Hajj is a rite performed by Muslims who are on holy pilgrimage to mecca and an act performed between the 8th to 12th of Dhul-Hijjah, the 12th month of Islamic calendar making Muslims feel the real importance for the celebration.
This, however, is why millions of Islamic faithfuls assembles in the holy land of Saudi Arabia on yearly basis to perform the obligation.
The idea of hajj performance is that one cannot distinguish a President, Commissioner or high personality from the poor or less privilege because all pilgrims dress uniformly appearing in their white garment called Ihram to show that they are in one nation in unity and bounded by one religion. It presents Muslims in a universalist view of mankind among majority of others .
Performance of Hajj is obligatory to all Muslims once in a life time with the emphasis that they are physically and financially capable to perform the obligation.
The rites of hajj performance commemorates the life of Prophet Ibrahim(Abraham) and his son Ismael who built the sacred heart the Ka’aba with special significance in the commemoration of the celebration of Eld-al-Ahda to mark the end of Hajj.It is also significant to perform hajj as it teaches a person about patience giving a person the chance to be forgiven of his sins for a new life.
Hajj becomes obligatory nine years after hijrah (migration of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) from Makkah to Medina)
The performance entails accomplishing some religious rites in accordance with their conditions and methods majorly in Ka’aba, Mina, Musdalifa and Arafat.
It is however important to know that the performance of hajj could be viewed in Three major parts. The preparation for hajj, knowing which type to perfirm from Tamattu, Qiran and Ifraad types.
Tamattu involves the pilgrim performing rites of the minor pilgrimage called Umrah and Qiran entails both Umrah and hajj in one continuous act with no breaks in the middle while Ifraad involves performing only the rites of hajj without Umrah and does not require animal sacrifice.
In performing the hajj, the prigrim put on the Ihram (white garment)and declare the intention to perform hajj. The rites of the hajj last five days from 8th to the 12th of Duhul-al Hijjah.
Pilgrim must be in Ihram for about three days, abstaining from the activities that are forbidding until the period is over.
On performing the hajj rites, pilgrim put on the Ihram and declare the intention to perform Hajj. “O Allah! I intend to perform Hajj. Please make it easy for me and accept it from me. Amen.” After, say the Talbiyah “Allahu Akbar”.
On the first day of Hajj, Pilgrim held to Mina, a town near Mecca, where they will spend the rest of the day. Here, the Saudi government provides amenities like thousands upon thousands of white air-conditioned tents provide temporary housing for each year’s pilgrims. On the first night, no major rituals takes place, so pilgrims may spend their time praying and reflecting with other pilgrims if they wish. Many pilgrims choose to say the Dhuhr, Asr, Magrib, Isha and Fajr prayers. men and women stay in separate tents, which are located adjacent to each other. Though husbands and wives may interact, men cannot enter women’s tents.
On the second day of Hajj, pilgrims head to Arafat to perform Waquf. Arafat is a nearby mountain and they must reach Arafat by the afternoon, when a ritual called Waquf will begin. From the time when the sun first starts to decline until the time it sets completely, pilgrims hold a vigil on a plain of Arafat during which time they pray and reflect.
No specific prayers are assigned for the Waquf, so simply pray to Allah sincerely from your heart. Many pilgrims like to also spend time reflecting on the course of their life, their future, and their place in the world.
After sundown, pilgrims head to a place called Muzdalifah between Mina and Arafat. Here, they offer an evening prayer (Maghrib) and spend the night sleeping on the ground beneath the open sky.
In the morning, they gather pebbles, as they will use these for the Ramy “stoning” ceremony later in the day.
Before the sun rises, pilgrims head back to Mina for the performance of Ramy Here, pilgrims participate in a ceremony meant to symbolize stoning the devil. Pilgrims throw seven consecutive pebbles at a special stone monument called the Jamrat al Aqabah.
This ceremony can be extremely crowded, tense, and emotional. Trampling deaths, though rare, have occurred. Because of this, the elderly, sick, and injured are discouraged from participating. Instead, they may perform this later in the evening or have a friend or confidant perform the ritual in their place.