Islam: practices – Five Pillars ~ HAJJ

The Hajj – Pilgrimage to Mecca

 

As one of the Five Pillars of Islam it is a compulsory act of faith. All Muslims who can afford it and are healthy are expected to go at least once in their lifetime. You need to know the steps of the Hajj and why they are significant as well as how going on Hajj may influence the life of a Muslim.

 

Stages

The map above gives a brief outline. The description below gives more detail:

 

  1. Ihram – Muslims dress in two pieces of white cloth. White symbolises purity and all are equal before Allah and dressing so imply demonstrates that.
  2. Great Mosque – Muslims go to the Great Mosque and perform They walk around the Kaba seven times. Some try to touch it.
  3. Well of Zam Zam – When Hagar and Ismail were in the desert the well of Zam Zam sprung up and saved their lives. Muslims will drink from this well.
  4. The hills of Safa and Marwa – Muslims run between the two hills to reenact Hagar’s desperate search for water for her son.
  5. Mina & Arafat – After staying at Mina to pray the pilgrims move to the Plain of Arafat for ‘The Standing’. They stand on Mount Arafat in the blazing heat from sunrise to sunset praying and asking for forgiveness from Allah. ‘The Standing’ is viewed as a rehearsal for the final Day of Judgment when each human will stand before Allah and face judgment. This is where Muhammad gave his final sermon before his death.
  6. Muzdalifah – Here Muslims will camp and collect the 49 pebbles that they will throw at the Jamrat Pillars the following day. This event is the symbolic stoning of the Devil to cast him out of their lives. A sacrifice will also be made here. Men will shave their heads and women cut off a lock of hair showing how the Hajj has changed them.
  7. Eid ul Adha is then celebrated. Sheep and goats are killed and their meat given to the poor.
  8. Return to Mecca – Muslims return to Mecca and once again circle the Kaba for seven times as a farewell.

 

How does the Hajj influence the lives of Muslims today?
  • Coming together on Hajj where all are equal before Allah is a humbling experience for Muslims. There is also a strong sense of community
  • Travelling to the birthplace of the religion connects a Muslim directly with Allah, Muhammad and the history of the faith.
  • Ensures that a Muslim considers closely their behaviour. ‘The Standing’ is a rehearsal for the Day of Judgment and it reminds Muslims that their behaviour will determine whether they achieve a place in paradise or hell. They know how important asking for forgiveness is.

Those who have been on Hajj are treated with great respect and often asked advice as they are seen as having had a great spiritual experience. Someone who has been on Hajj is called a Hajji (Man) Hajja (Woman). It is a title of respect.

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