The Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) is one of the five pillars of Islam, the obligations that all Muslims must fulfill. Every adult Muslim (male or female) who has the physical and financial means must travel to Mecca to perform Hajj once in their lifetime. In Mecca, Muslims from all over the world gather in a show of faith, unity, and solidarity by re-enacting the ritual that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) performed on his last pilgrimage.
How to prepare for the Hajj
Make sure you are ready to perform Hajj. Hajj should not be undertaken lightly or as an afterthought. In ancient times, it was not uncommon for pilgrims to die during their journey to Mecca. Although modern conveniences now allow millions of Muslims to travel quickly and safely to and from the holy city, the Hajj still needs to be taken seriously, and the dedication of these early pilgrims. Study the Hajj rituals, begin to clear your mind of worldly distractions, and most importantly, repent of past sins, which will be forgiven during your pilgrimage.
- As with all forms of Muslim worship, Hajj must be performed sincerely and out of devotion to God (Allah). Hajj cannot be performed for the purpose of gaining worldly recognition or material gain in this life.
- Hajj must be performed in accordance with the words and actions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as described in the Sunnah.
Decide which type of Hajj you will undertake
When it comes to Performing hajj as a Muslim we have three different options.Each offers a slightly different experience in terms of the rituals performed and the timeline of pilgrimage events. The three types of pilgrimage are:
- Tamattu’. This is the most common form of pilgrimage and the one recommended by the Prophet Muhammad himself (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him). Tamattu’ involves the pilgrim performing the rites of the lesser pilgrimage ritual known as Umrah, and then performing the rites of Hajj. The pilgrims who perform the Tamattu’ are called Mutamatti. As this is the most common type of pilgrimage, especially for foreigners to Saudi Arabia, the rest of this guide assumes that you will be doing this type of pilgrimage.
- Qiran. In this option, the pilgrim performs the rites of Umrah and Hajj in one continuous act with no “interruptions” in between. Pilgrims who perform Qiran are called Qaarin.
- Ifraad. Finally, this form of pilgrimage involves performing only the rites of Hajj, not Umrah either. This form of pilgrimage also stands out for being the only one that does not require animal sacrifice. Pilgrims who perform Ifraad are called Mufrid.
Plan your Visit to Saudia Arabia
Plan your trip to Saudi Arabia. Hajj takes place in and around the holy city of Mecca, which is now in the country of Saudi Arabia. Just like when you travel to any foreign country, you will want to have your passports, travel documents, tickets, etc. resolved well in advance. Note that national governments can sometimes take time to issue new passports when old ones expire.
- Hajj takes place from the 8th to the 12th of Dhul-Hijjah, the 12th month of the Islamic calendar. As the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, the date of Hajj changes from year to year in the Western Gregorian calendar. Please note that according to the Saudi government, the last day pilgrims can arrive at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah for Hajj is the 4th day of Dhul-Hijjah.
- The Saudi government offers special “Hajj visas” to American Muslims who have not made the pilgrimage in the past five years. Obtaining one of these visas requires a current passport, a completed application form, copies of marriage or birth certificates, and a current vaccination record.
- Pilgrims often travel to perform Hajj in groups as a show of solidarity. Contact members of your local Muslim community to see if any are performing Hajj this year; if so, you might consider coordinating your travels.
Prepare to be immersed in religion
Get ready to delve into religion. As a traditionalist Islamic monarchy, the nation of Saudi Arabia has rules of personal conduct, especially for women, which may be unknown to foreigners. All women performing Hajj must plan to travel in the company of a mahram, any related male such as a father, brother, husband, son, or a person approved in accordance with Islamic law. Women over 45 years old can perform Hajj without Mahram if they are part of a large group and have a notarized consent letter from their husband.
- All people, women and men, who participate in the Hajj should prepare to be extremely modest during their stay in Saudi Arabia. Clothing should be modest and unadorned; during much of the pilgrimage, men require special religious attire. Colognes, perfumes, makeup and scented soaps should be avoided. When a pilgrim enters the sacred state of Ihram of ritual purity, smoking, cursing, shaving, cutting nails and having sex are forbidden.
Continue to the Next Part Click Here