The ritual of hajj is
performed in the month of ZulHijjah, the twelfth and last
month in the Islamic lunar calendar. In Arabic, the word
hajj literally means going to a place for the sake of visiting;
and according to the terminology of the Islamic Sharee'ah
(jurisprudence), it implies to the act of going to the Baitullah
in Mecca to observe the necessary devotions related to pilgrimage.
The hajj is mandatory upon all able Muslims, men and women,
at least once in a lifetime.
Apart from worship of Almighty Allah, the command for hajj
affords Muslims the opportunity to interact with their brethren
from around the globe. The command concerning the hajj is
found in several Qur'anic verses, among them:
"And when We assigned to Ibraheem the site of the Sacred
House (Ka'bah), saying 'Do not associate with Me anything,
and purify My House for those who circumambulate the Ka'bah,
and those who stand up and prostrate and bow in prayer. And
proclaim the Pilgrimage among men, and they will come to
you on foot and mounted on every kind of camel, lean on account
of journeys through deep and distant mountain highways." [Al-Hajj:
The verse above confirms that Prophet Ibraheem worshipped
at the Sacred House of Allah (Baitullah - another name of
Ka'bah) long before the advent of Judaism or Christianity.
For that matter, some Bibilical historians say that he lived
in the first half of the second millennium B.C, that is prior
to the establishment of the Indus civilizations of Harappa
and Mohenjo-Daro; hence, prior to the birth of Hinduism.
The hajj today is one of the largest gathering of human beings
Besides this annual ritual, there is a lesser hajj known
as umrah that can be performed at any time during the year
except on the days of the greater hajj, specifically from
9th till 13th of ZulHijjah.
On the benefit of hajj, Abu Hurairah (r.a.) narrates that
he heard the Prophet SAW say:
"Whoever performs Hajj and does not
commit any Rafath (obscenity) or Fusooq (transgression),
he returns (free from sin) as the day his mother bore him.
The most beautiful aspect of hajj is the uniformity. All
the pilgrims have to do exactly the same acts at the same
sites around Mecca on four days consecutively. All wear the
ihraam garb, a great majority of which is white in color.
Once the ihraam is donned and the intention for hajj uttered,
male pilgrims are prohibited from wearing stitched clothes,
shoes that cover the anklebone, a hat or turban or anything
that covers the head. Women are prohibited from wearing the
veil that covers their faces (burqaa) and also gloves.
Both men and women are prohibited from wearing any kind of
perfume or hair oil, cropping or shaving hair on any part
of the body, cut the nails, have sexual intercourse, hunt
and kill animals, or to be involved in any form of marriage