What is Hajj? An introduction, some rules and virtues (Islam 2.7)

The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Makkah and it is the fifth pillar of Islam. The pilgrimage is a sacred physical and spiritual journey made by a Muslim to the revered sites in and around Makkah, for the purpose of worshipping Allah alone – following in those actions, the pilgrimage made to Makkah by the Prophet Muhammad and the Prophets who came before him. This journey is once in a lifetime obligation for those Muslims who have reached the age of adulthood, are healthy and able-bodied, and have wealth sufficient to perform Hajj. For many Muslims it is simply too expensive, so they save up until they are able. During one week each year, from the 8th to the 13th of Dhul-Hijjah up to three million Muslims come to the Ka’bah (and other places in and around Makkah) as a part of the Hajj ritual.

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The Ka’bah: The Sacred Grand Mosque (Al-Masjid Al-Haraam) is in Makkah. Makkah is known as ‘Umm al-Quraa’ which means ‘the mother of all cities’. It is the most sacred place for Muslims. The Qur’aan states that the Ka’bah was the first ‘House of God’ or place of worship that was built on earth for the worship of God alone. It was first built by the Prophet Ibraheem and his son, the Prophet Isma’eel, thousands of years ago. It is a simple cube shaped building – it is the Qiblah  or direction of prayer for all Muslims until the Day of Judgement. It is made of bricks and covered with a black cloth. In later times, after the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) verses of the Qur’aan were embroidered into the cloth in gold, as well as the testimony of faith.

The Ka’bah is about 13 metres high and its four corners roughly face the four points of the compass. In the eastern corner, about 1.6 metres from the ground and built into the wall is the ‘Black Stone’ (al-Hajr al-Aswad). It is reported in authentic hadeeths that this stone is from Paradise and it was originally white, but became blackened due to the sins of the people. Touching it washes away sins, and the stone will bear witness on the Day of Judgement for everyone who had touched it as a believer in Allah alone.

The ihraam garment worn by a man

The ihraam garment worn by a man

The Ihraam: All male pilgrims (hujjaaj) must wear special clothing called the Ihraam which usually consists of two white sheets wrapped around the body. Women have no clothing restrictions, but they must wear a “hijab” as they would do normally which covers the whole body except the face and hands. These garments indicate the equality in worship in front of Allaah. They are a sign of purity, humility, humbleness and dedication to Allaah. Muslims are not buried in these ihraam sheets unless they die in a state of ihraam. Muslim pilgrims put on the Ihraam before they approach Makkah and wear it till the pilgrimage of Umrah is complete. Then they put it on again on the 8th Dhul-Hijjah till the Hajj pilgrimage is complete. Whilst in a state of Ihraam, Muslims must not apply perfume, cut their hair, clip their nails, have sexual relations, get married or make a proposal for marriage, hunt game, cover ones head (for a man), and there are some other restrictions.

Virtues of Hajj: Here are some of the sayings of the Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) regarding Hajj:

  • “Do you not know, O `Amr, that Islaam wipes away whatever came before it, Hijrah wipes away whatever came before it, and that Hajj wipes away what came before it of sins”(Muslim)
  • “Whoever performs Hajj for Allaah without indulging in sexual passions and without committing sin, he will return home like the day his mother gave birth to him.” (Muslim).
  • “Spending one’s wealth for Hajj is like spending it in Allaah’s cause – it is multiplied by seven hundred.” (Musnad of Ahmad, 5/355).
  • “An `Umrah to an `Umrah is an expiation for whatever sins are committed between them, and there is no reward for the truly righteous Hajj that is free from violations except Paradise.”
  • “Follow up between the Hajj and `Umrah consecutively for they remove poverty and sin as the bellows remove impurities from iron.” (An-Nasaa’ee, no. 2630)
  • Read more virtues here

Every Muslim is encouraged to make Hajj as soon as they are able.

Look at the “Simple Hajj Guide” and the “Simple Umrah Guide” and answer the following questions:

Questions:

  1. What are the places that are visited during hajj?
  2. What are some of the rules of being in a state of Ihraam?
  3. When does hajj begin and end in the Islamic calendar?
  4. What is a pilgrim excepted to do in Arafah?
  5. What does the pilgrim do on the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah?
  6. List at least three benefits of Hajj.
  7. Would you like to go to Hajj? Why?

NOTE:

I initially compiled these worksheets for my students at the Redstone Academy (aged between 13 and 16 years), Moseley Road, Birmingham, UK who are working towards their General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). I felt that others who do not attend the school could also benefit from these topics since they are presented in simple bitesize chapters. I have relied upon GCSE text books (especially AQA Religious Studies) and adapted them for my classes.

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