Note: This article is for the novice (you), by the novice (me) and of the novice (us). I will try to give a skeleton only (for simplicity) and for detailed discourse would like to direct you to
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam [After 1). Oneness of God, 2). 5 times daily prayer to Allah 3). fasting one month every year in Ramazan, 4). Zakat, 2.5 % of your savings given to poor.]
Hajj can only be done in the month of Zilhajj and on a particular day. Only in Mecca. All the other pillars can be performed wherever you are. The first three pillars deal with your own inner steadfastness and need no financial well being or being healthy. (1, 2, 3,). The 4th, Zakat, is for the wealthy only, the Hajj needs you to be healthy, wealthy, and have time. Hajj must be performed at least once in a life time if you meet the criteria. Zakat is once every year. [IF YOU ARE WEALTHY BY QUESTIONABLE MEANS, YOUR HAJJ AND/OR ZAKAT HAS NO MEANING]
Now Hajj is an exercise which combines physical exertion and spiritual meditation, together with monetary sacrifices.
Hajj is performed in Mecca, but a visit to Medinah (some 300 km north of Mecca), where our beloved prophet (PBUH) lies, though not part of Hajj, is very much desired and done by almost all hajis, except if you are pressed for time.
Hajj has been performed since ancient times but after the advent of Islam it has been regularized and made a pillar. Now the inside of Kaabah (cubical structure) is empty unlike before Islam when it housed many idols. The Kaabah has also been named by Allah as qiblah (a place to where you must face when praying). Before it, the mosque in Jerusalem used to be the qiblah. The muslims face the Kaabah, and go round it, but DO NOT worship it. They all worship only Allah.
The Hajj comprises mostly of rituals that are done in remembrance of what prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) (AS), prophet Ismail and bibi Hajrah (Hagar) did many years ago. Also there is a ritual which is the continuation of a practice before Islam.
(i) ZAM ZAM : Ibrahim(AS) was sent by God to some other place and leave his wife Hajrah and his toddler son in the desert near Kaabah. He was very thirsty and Hajrah went in search of some water. In doing so she walked several times between two hills, Safa and Marwah, a distance of about 400 m. All the time keeping an eye on the child Ismail who was at a distance of some 30 m from Kaabah and some 40 m from Safa. In between these hills, there was a stretch of about 50 m, when her view was blocked by a mound and thus she ran for this stretch so as to see the child again. This happened every time she ran and on the seventh run, she saw that lo, there was water gushing from where the feet of Ismail were and she had to say “zam Zam” (stop), because the water was so much and could drown every thing around. This well is still there near the Kaabah and has been supplying water ever since.
(ii) SACRIFICE: Ibrahim (AS) was ordered by God to sacrifice the thing most dear to him and he found his son was most dear to him. He decided to obey his God and sacrifice his son Ismail. Ismail was very willing to go through the exercise. He took him to a place called Arafat some three km from Mecca for the sacrifice. On the way three times Satan tried to dissuade him and each time Ibrahim (AS) threw stones at him to make him go away. Finally at the last moment a ram (sheep) was miraculously replaced and Ismail was saved. God accepted his sacrifice.
TAWWAF: Going around the Kaabah keeping the Kaabah on your left, seven times is called tawwaf. This was practiced by the pilgrims even before Islam.
SA’YEE: Going seven times between hills Safa and Marwah, to remember Hajrah’s search for water.
QAYAAM: Spending the a day in Arafat
AHRAAM: Two (preferably white) pieces of clothes for men, and (any colour) full dress for women covering all body except face, hands and feet.
JAMARAAT: There are three pillars with a distance of about 50 m or so between them, between Mecca and Mina, These indicate the three times Satan tried to dissuade Ibrahim (AS) from doing the sacrifice of his son. Pilgrims throw stones at these pillars to remember those times.
SACRIFICE: giving sacrifice of an animal (goat, sheep etc), to remember Ibrahim’s sacrifice.
SEQUENCE OF EVENTS FOR HAJJ:
(1) NIYAT (saying that I intend to perform Hajj)
(2) Take a bath. Put on Ahram. Men must leave the head uncovered.
(3) arrive at Mecca
(5) Perform Sa’yee
(6) wait in Mecca for the day when every one must go to Mina.(7 Zilhajj, Islamic month). Mina is about 3 km from Mecca. Stay in Mina till the 9th of Zilhajj.
(7) On the 9th Zilhajj, go to Arafat and spend the day there. (pray, pray, pray and/or rest)
(8) In the evening move to Muzdalfa (near by) and spend the night there in the open.(collect 3 sets of 21 small stones each (pea size) from Muzdalfa).
(9) In the morning on the 10th, go to Mecca and join the Eidul Adha prayer congregation.
(10) Come back to Mina and on the way throw stones on the three pillars one by one (7 stones each).Also come out of Ahram and wear normal clothes, Shave head.. (Men only). On this day or on any of the next three days, you may give sacrifice of an animal (goat, sheep etc.) to remember Ibrahim’s (AS) action.
(11) Stay in Minah for the next two days and throw stones on the three pillars one by one (7 stones each) once each day.
(12) On the 3rd day, (On the 13th Zulhajj), come to Mecca and perform Tawwaf e Vidah (Parting Tawwaf) of the Kaabah.
(13) Go home.
Note: a visit to Medinah mosque and pray there for at least 8 days (may be more or less, depending on time available) can be done before or after the Hajj.
NOTE: Of all the procedures above, the one of staying the day in Arafat is called THE PROCEDURE and if any one just happens to be there for that day becomes a Haji, even if he missed all the other actions. On the other hand, missing Arafat means you have NOT done the hajj, even if you did all the others actions.
NOTE: The first 5 rituals, (namely niyat, ahram, arriving at Mecca, tawwaf and sa’yee) are called UMRAH (lesser hajj) and can be performed any time of the year.
NOTE: I did my first hajj in 1979, and the second Hajj with my wife, in 2006. I have alhamdulillah done numerous (about 10) Umrahs. The last Umrah we did was in 2012.
ALL THE RITUALS IN ORDER. (1-7)
PRAYER TIME IN GRAND MOSQUE IN MECCA
GRAND MOSQUE (THE PROPHET’S (PBUH) MOSQUE) IN MEDINAH