Significance of Hajj
The Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam, which every adult Muslim must undertake at least once in their life if they can afford it and are physically able.
Every year about two million Muslims converge on Mecca - the holiest place in Islam - to take part in an event which combines piety and passion.
Many Muslims save for years in order to perform the pilgrimage. They often have to travel thousands of miles.
Then, once they arrive, they must brave vast crowds and the fierce heat of the desert as they perform the Hajj rituals.
Hajj - Pilgrimage To Mecca
The Hajj step by step:
A pilgrim does this by making a statement of intention
to perform the Hajj, wearing special white clothes (which are also called
Ihram), and obeying certain regulations.
During the Hajj, pilgrims are forbidden to:
Once in Mecca pilgrims enter the Great Mosque and walk seven times round the Kaaba (a cube-like building in the centre of the mosque) in an anti-clockwise direction. This is known as Tawaf. Pilgrims also run seven times along a passageway in the Great Mosque, commemorating a search for water by Hajar, wife of the Prophet Abraham.
DAY 1: FIRST STEP
Pilgrims travel to Mina on 8 Dhul Hijjah (a date in the Islamic calendar) and remain there until dawn the next morning.
DAY 2: STANDING AT ARAFAT
Pilgrims then travel to the valley of Arafat and stand in the open praising Allah and meditating.
At the end of the day, pilgrims travel to Muzdalifa where they spend the night. Pilgrims gather up stones to use the next day.
DAY 3: STONING THE DEVIL
In the morning, pilgrims return to Mina and throw seven stones at pillars called Jamaraat. These represent the devil. The pillars stand at three spots where Satan is believed to have tempted the Prophet.
Pilgrims sacrifice an animal (usually a sheep or goat). This commemorates the incident related in the Old Testament when the Prophet Abraham was about to sacrifice his son and God accepted a sheep instead. Nowadays many pilgrims pay someone to slaughter the animal on their behalf.
Pilgrims shave their heads or cut some hair from it and return to the Great Mosque at Mecca for a further Tawaf, walking around the Kaaba. They then return to Mina, where they spend the night.
DAYS 4 & 5
Pilgrims spend time in Mina, continuation of the ritual of stoning the pillars.
If a pilgrim has been unable to return to Mecca to walk around the Kaaba, he or she does so on the fourth or fifth day.
( Courtesy: BBC )