Hajj 2018: The Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca explained – National


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Over 2 million Muslims from around the globe are starting the five-day hajj pilgrimage on Sunday. They may circle Islam’s most sacred website, the cube-shaped Kaaba within the Saudi Arabian metropolis of Mecca, and participate in a collection of rituals supposed to result in larger humility and unity amongst Muslims.

Right here’s a have a look at the pilgrimage and what it means for Muslims:


Muslim pilgrims attend midday prayers exterior the Namirah mosque on Arafat Mountain, in the course of the annual hajj pilgrimage, exterior the holy metropolis of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017.

(AP Photograph/Khalil Hamra)

The hajj is without doubt one of the 5 pillars of Islam, and all able-bodied Muslims are required to carry out it as soon as of their lifetime. The hajj is seen as an opportunity to wipe clear previous sins and begin recent. Many search to deepen their religion on the hajj, with some girls taking over the Islamic hair protecting generally known as “hijab” upon returning.

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Regardless of the bodily challenges of the hajj, many individuals depend on canes or crutches and demand on strolling the routes. Those that can’t afford the hajj are generally financed by charities or neighborhood leaders.

Others save their total lives to make the journey. Just a few even stroll hundreds of miles by foot to Saudi Arabia, taking months to reach.


Water is sprayed to chill down the warmth forward of Hajj within the tent metropolis of Mina, Saudi Arabia, 29 August 2017.


Whereas following a route the Prophet Muhammad as soon as walked, the rites of hajj are believed to in the end hint the footsteps of the prophets Ibrahim and Ismail, or Abraham and Ishmael as they’re named within the Bible.

Muslims consider Ibrahim’s religion was examined when God commanded him to sacrifice his solely son Ismail. Ibrahim was ready to undergo the command, however then God stayed his hand, sparing his son. Within the Christian and Jewish model of the story, Abraham is ordered to kill his different son, Isaac.

Pilgrims additionally hint the trail of Ibrahim’s spouse, Hagar, who Muslims consider ran between two hills seven instances trying to find water for her dying son. Custom holds that God then introduced forth a spring that runs to at the present time. That spring, generally known as the sacred properly of Zamzam, is believed to own therapeutic powers, and pilgrims typically return from the hajj with bottles of its water as presents.


A normal view of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, 29 August 2017.


Islamic custom holds that the Kaaba was constructed by Ibrahim and Ismail as a home of monotheistic worship hundreds of years in the past. Through the years, the Kaaba was reconstructed and attracted completely different sorts of pilgrims, together with early Christians who as soon as lived within the Arabian Peninsula. In pre-Islamic instances, the Kaaba was used to deal with pagan idols worshipped by native tribes.

Muslims don’t worship the Kaaba, however it’s Islam’s most sacred website as a result of it represents the metaphorical home of God and the oneness of God in Islam. Observant Muslims around the globe face towards the Kaaba throughout their 5 each day prayers.


Pilgrims enter right into a state of non secular purity generally known as “ihram” that’s geared toward shedding symbols of materialism, giving up worldly pleasures and specializing in the internal self over outward look.

Girls forgo make-up and fragrance and put on loose-fitting clothes and a head protecting, whereas males gown in seamless, white terrycloth clothes. The white clothes are forbidden to comprise any stitching — a restriction meant to emphasise the equality of all Muslims and forestall wealthier pilgrims from differentiating themselves with extra elaborate clothes.

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Muslims are forbidden from partaking in sexual activity, reducing their hair or trimming nails whereas in ihram. It is usually forbidden for pilgrims to argue, battle or lose their tempers in the course of the hajj. Inevitably, although, the huge crowds and bodily exhaustion of the journey check pilgrims’ persistence and tolerance.


The hajj historically begins in Mecca, with a smaller “umrah” pilgrimage which will be carried out year-round. To carry out the umrah, Muslims circle the Kaaba counter-clockwise seven instances whereas reciting supplications to God, then stroll between the 2 hills traveled by Hagar. Mecca’s Grand Mosque, the world’s largest, encompasses the Kaaba and the 2 hills.

Earlier than heading to Mecca, many pilgrims go to town of Medina, the place the Prophet Muhammad is buried and the place he constructed his first mosque.


A pilgrim reads the Quran on a rocky hill known as the Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat, close to the holy metropolis of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015 in the course of the hajj pilgrimage.

AP Photograph/Mosa’ab Elshamy

After spending the evening within the large valley of Mina, the pilgrims head to Mount Arafat, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of Mecca, for the head of the pilgrimage.

They scale a hill known as Jabal al-Rahma, or Mountain of Mercy. It’s right here the place Muhammad delivered his closing sermon, calling for equality and for Muslim unity. He reminded his followers of ladies’s rights and that each Muslim life and property is sacred.

Round sundown, pilgrims head to an space known as Muzdalifa, 9 kilometers (5.5 miles) west of Arafat. Many stroll, whereas others use buses. They spend the evening there and choose up pebbles alongside the best way that will likely be utilized in a symbolic stoning of the satan again in Mina, the place Muslims consider the satan tried to speak Ibrahim out of submitting to God’s will.


The final three days of the hajj are marked by three occasions: a closing circling of the Kaaba, casting stones in Mina and eradicating the ihram. Males typically shave their heads on the finish in an indication of renewal.

The ultimate days of hajj coincide with Eid al-Adha, or the pageant of sacrifice, celebrated by Muslims around the globe to commemorate Ibrahim’s check of religion. Through the three-day Eid, Muslims slaughter livestock and distribute the meat to the poor.

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