Upon becoming Muslim, one must perform Hajj once in his lifetime. Hajj is the pilgrimage one makes to the Sacred House of Allah (the Ka’bah) in order to perform certain rites at specific places at specific times. This pillar of Islam is obligatory upon every Muslim, male or female, who is sane and has reached the age of puberty, once in a lifetime if they have the physical and financial ability. If a person has an incurable disease which prevents him from performing Hajj, but has enough money, he must assign someone to perform Hajj for him.
But if a person does not have enough money to fulfill his daily requirements or to support those whom he is required to support, Hajj is not an obligation upon him. Allah says: And [due] to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House – for whoever is able to find thereto a way. But whoever disbelieves – then indeed, Allah is free from need of the worlds. [3:97]
There are many reasons and great wisdoms why Hajj has been prescribed. From them are the following:
- To increase one’s good deeds due to his act of obedience, for the reward of Hajj which has been accepted by Allah is nothing less than Jannah. The Messenger of Allah (y) said: “An ‘Umrah followed by another is an expiation for the lesser sins one performed between them, and there is no reward for a Hajj which has been accepted by Allah except Jannah.” (Bukhari #1683 and Muslim #1349)
- To realize the unity of the Muslims, for Hajj is the largest Islamic gathering. Muslims from all over come together at one place, at one time, calling out to the same Lord, wearing the same clothes, performing the same rituals. There is no difference between the rich and poor, the noble and ignoble, the white and black, an Arab and non-Arab. They are all equal, except in piety (taqwaa). This is nothing but an emphasis of the brotherhood of all Muslims and the unity of their hopes and feelings.
- It is a spiritual exercise which trains one to exert his efforts, physically and financially, in the way of Allah and seeking His Pleasure.
- It is a purification of one’s sins and wrongdoings. The Prophet (s) said: “Whoever performs Hajj (pilgrimage) and does not have sexual relations (with his wife), nor commits sin, nor disputes unjustly (during Hajj), then he returns from Hajj as pure and free from sins as on the day on which his mother gave birth to him.” (Bukhari #1274)
How to Perform Hajj
There are three types of Hajj; each one has its specific rites. The best type is Tamattu’, wherein one performs Hajj and ‘Umrah separately, in the Sacred Months of Hajj. It is done as follows:
- One should enter the state of Ihraam from the Miqat before the 8th of Dhu’l-Hijjah. He should enter state of Ihram, saying: “Labbayk-Allahumma ‘Umratan mutamitti’an bihaa ilal-Hajj.” Meaning: Here I am at your service, O Allah, performing ‘Umrah and then a Hajj [separately].
- After entering Makkah, he should perform Tawaaf around the Ka’bah and perform the Sa‘i for ‘Umrah, and then shave or shorten the hair. Women should clip her hair equal to a third of a finger’s length.
- On the eighth day of Dhul-Hijjah, which is called the day of Tarwiyah, one should enter the state of Ihraam at the time of Duhaa´, from the place he is in. He should then go to Minaa´, and there he should perform Dhuhr, ‘Asr, Maghrib, and ‘Ishaa´ prayers. He should shorten Dhuhr, ‘Asr and ‘Ishaa´ prayers [as a traveler does] but he should not combine them.
- After the sun has risen on the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah, which is the Day of ‘Arafah, one should leave Minaa´ and head towards ‘Arafah. He should pray Dhuhr and ‘Asr at the time of Dhuhr, both two rak‘ahs. After completing them, he should spend his time remembering Allah and supplicating him with sincere humility. One should ask Allah whatever he wishes raising his hands while facing the Qiblah.
- When the sun sets on the Day of ‘Arafah, one should set out for Muzdalifah. Once he has reached, he should pray the Maghrib and ‘Ishaa´ prayers, combining both prayers together, making the ‘Ishaa´ prayer two rak’aat only. He should spend the night in Muzdalifah. He should pray Fajr prayer in its earliest acceptable time, and then he should spend his time supplicating until the sky appears bright.
- But before the sun has risen, he should leave for Minaa´. Once he arrives, he should throw seven pebbles at Jamrat-ul-’Aqabah, saying “Allahu Akbar” with each throw. The pebbles should be the size of a chickpea.
- After this, he should slaughter his sacrificial animal, and then shave or shorten the hair. Shaving is better for men, but as for women, she should clip her hair about a third of a finger’s length. (She should never shave her head).
- With this one would partially terminate the Ihraam, and remain in a state of lesser Ihraam. He may wear normal clothes and do everything which is allowed for a normal person except for having marital relations with his wife.
- One should then proceed to Makkah and perform the Tawaaf and Sa‘i, both for Hajj. Upon completion, he should return to Minaa´ and spend the nights of the eleventh and twelfth of Dhul-Hijjah there. During the days, he should throw seven pebbles at all three Jamaraat, saying “Allahu Akbar” with each pebble. He should do so after the sun starts to decline from its zenith. He should begin with the smallest Jamrah, and then proceed to the middle and then the largest.
- Once a person has thrown pebbles at the Jamaraat on the twelfth day, he may leave Minaa´ or he may spend another night in Minaa´ throwing pebbles at the three Jamaraat on the thirteenth day after the sun starts to decline from its zenith as explained earlier, this is more praiseworthy.
- Once one intends to return home, he should proceed to Makkah and perform Tawaaf al-Wadaa’ (farewell Tawaf). This Tawaaf is not an obligation for a woman experiencing menses or postpartum bleeding. Once a person has done this, his Hajj is complete.