10 Interesting Facts About Hajj
Every Muslim aspires to go on the incredible spiritual journey known as Hajj at least once during their lifetime. Though there are a lot of details, rules and regulations in terms of performing Hajj, having a pure intention is the most important of all. Not only is Hajj one of the most important religious obligations, but performing Hajj strengthens a Muslim’s faith in Allah SWT and purifies their soul. Read on to learn some significant facts about Hajj.
What Is Hajj?
Arabic for “Pilgrimage”, Hajj is the journey to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, that every physical and financially able Muslim must make at least once in their lifetime. It is the 5th fundamental pillar of Islam. Hajj takes place in the last month of the Islamic calendar between 8th to 12th Dhul-Hijjah. Muslims who successfully perform Hajj are given the title of Hajjis.
Why Is Hajj Important to Muslims?
Hajj is a spiritual journey to Makkah and Madinah that Muslims undertake to cleanse their soul, ask for forgiveness and move closer to Allah SWT. Dating back thousands of years, Hajj is also following the steps of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who performed Hajj once and Umrah 4 times during his life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “O people! Allah has prescribed Hajj upon you, so perform it.” In simpler words, the journey of Hajj wipes away a Muslim’s sins and gives them a clean slate in front of Allah (SWT).
In another place, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), while stating the significance of Hajj, said, “Anyone that performs Hajj for ALLAH’s pleasure and avoids all forms of sin will return free from all sins, similar to as he was on his birthday.” (Sahih Bukhari and Muslim)
How Long Does Hajj Last For?
Starting on 7th Dhul-Hijjah and ending on 12th Dhul-Hijjah, the complete journey of Hajj takes place in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, over a period of five to six days.
Brief History of Hajj
The origin of Hajj dates back to 2000 BC when Prophet Ibrahim (AS), on Allah SWT’s command, left his only son Prophet Ismail (AS) and wife Hazrat Hajra (RA) in the middle of the desert. In order to find food and water for her starving son, Hazrat Hajra (RA) ran between the mountains Safa and Marwa, which led to the miracle of Zamzam sprouting from the ground. A few years later, Prophet Ibrahim (AS) returned to Makkah and reunited with his beloved wife and son. Soon after, Prophet Ibrahim (AS) witnessed a dream in which Allah SWT commanded him to sacrifice his only son.
Though it was an extreme test, both Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and Prophet Ismail (AS) willingly agreed to follow the command of Allah SWT. Prophet Ibrahim (AS) then took his son to a mountain to make the sacrifice; just then, Allah SWT miraculously replaced a sheep in place of Prophet Ismail (AS). To date, the sacrifice is performed by Muslims worldwide at the end of Hajj – Eid ul-Adha.
After a few years, Allah SWT asked Prophet Ibrahim (AS) to construct the Holy Kaaba alongside Prophet Ismail (AS) and once completed, he asked Prophet Ibrahim (AS) to call the people and perform Hajj. However, today the steps of Hajj that Muslims perform are the way Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) showed and guided them.
Hajj Pilgrimage Facts
How much do you know about Hajj? Here are some Hajj Facts that you should know:
Hajj Is the Fifth Pillar of Islam
Hajj is one of the 5 pillars of Islam. It must be performed by physically and financially stable Muslims at least once in their lifetime. Allah SWT in the Holy Quran commands His believers (Muslims) to visit Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to perform Hajj. In fact, there’s a whole Surah named after it; Surah Al-Haj. Allah SWT in this Surah tells us:
“We designated for Abraham the site of the House, [saying], ‘Do not associate anything with Me and purify My House for those who perform Tawaf and those who stand [in prayer] and those who bow and prostrate.’
And proclaim to the people the Hajj [pilgrimage]; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass –
That they may witness benefits for themselves and mention the name of Allah on known days over what He has provided for them of [sacrificial] animals… Then let them… fulfil their vows and perform Tawaf around the ancient House.’
That [has been commanded], and whoever honours the sacred ordinances of Allah – it is best for him in the sight of his Lord…” (22:26-30)
The World’s Largest Religious Gathering
It is estimated that around 2 million Muslims visit Masjid Al-Haram in Mecca to perform Hajj every year. Muslims travel to Makkah for six days at the beginning of the last month of the Islamic calendar; Dhul Hijjah.
Hajj is known as one of the largest human gatherings; in the year 2019, around 2.5 million visited the Holy Kaaba for Hajj. From Pakistan to England to Malaysia to America, Hajj is an Islamic ritual that brings all Muslims together under Allah SWT’s love.
There’s a Unique Dress Code for Hajj
To complete the obligation of Hajj, all men and women must wear Ihram. For men, Ihram comprises two pieces of unstitched white clothing; one drapes around their shoulders and the second one to cover the body from the waist down. On the other hand, the right Ihram clothing is any simple dress that covers her body and a headscarf for women.
Both women and men cleanse themselves before dressing up for Hajj, while women remove a single lock of hair, men trim their nails and beards and shave their heads. The state of Ihram represents purity and equality. Therefore, pilgrims are advised to ensure the cleanliness of their Ihram during Hajj as in case it gets dirty, Hajj will be invalid.
Hajj Gains You a Place in Heaven
For all tribulations and trials that come along with the planning and completion of Hajj, its reward by far supersedes all the struggles that a Muslim might go through. In simpler words, the physical, spiritual, and financial costs are nothing compared to Allah SWT’s reward for completing Hajj. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “The reward a Hajj Mabroor has is nothing but Paradise.” (Sahih Bukhari)
Kissing and Touching Hajr e Aswad
Encased in a ring of silver lining, Hajr e Aswad (Black Stone) is located in the eastern corner of the Holy Kaaba. Hajr e Aswad dates back to the time of Adam and Eve. It is believed that the Prophet Adam (AS) received the Black Stone as a gift from Allah SWT.
Later, during the construction of the Holy Kaaba, angel Jibraeel (AS) gave Hajr e Aswad to Prophet Ibrahim (AS). During Hajj, every Muslim aims to touch or kiss the Holy Stone, just like Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did.
Hajj Coincides with Eid ul-Adha
Celebrated after the completion of Hajj, Eid ul-Adha is when Muslims worldwide perform the Sunnah of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) by sacrificing animals; cow, sheep, goat and camel. Muslims then distribute meat portions to the poor, their family and friends.
Hajj Is More than 1500 Years Old
According to the Islamic legends, most Muslims believe that the first Hajj was performed by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on 4th Dhul al-Qidah in 7AH (629 CE). However, you will be surprised to know that the origin of Hajj goes way back to 2000 BCE. If you think that the rituals of Sa’e – running between Safa and Marwa – are performed to honour Hazrat Hajra (RA)’s journey when she was searching for water, it’s a lot older than that!
According to Islamic history, the Holy Kaaba was constructed by Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and his son Prophet Ismail (AS) in 629 CE. So since then, worshippers of different religions used to visit the site. However, the first official Hajj took place in 630 CE. After the conquest of Makkah, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) destroyed all the idols inside the Holy Kaaba and retraced Hazrat Hajra (AS)’s steps between Safa and Marwa, stoned the devil and delivered his last sermon.
Hajj Is a Lucrative Industry for the Saudi Government
Due to the large number of pilgrims desiring to fulfil the obligation of Hajj, the Saudi government earns a huge revenue amounting to billions from Hajj.
Almost 350,000 Staff Members Manage Hajj
From booking your Hajj through a travel agent, boarding the plane, passing through immigration control, and returning home, Hajj requires a full spectrum of services. With many people coming to Makkah to perform Hajj every year, the number of services and staff members required to accommodate them is relatively high.
According to a report, in 2019, around 350,000 volunteers and staff members were responsible for providing communication services, supervision services, transportation and healthcare services.
There Is No Gender Segregation for Hajj
While most Islamic rituals practice gender segregation, Hajj is the only ritual in which there is no separation between women and men in Masjid Al-Haram of Mecca. During Hajj, both men and women walk around the Holy Kaaba together, climb Mount Arafat together and even perform the stoning of the devil side by side. In short, Hajj symbolizes the equality of men and women before Allah SWT.
Summary – Hajj Facts
The rites and rituals of Hajj are many. The wonderful journey from Makkah to the Mount of Arafat is a spiritual expedition that every Muslim aspires to be a part of. Therefore, every year, over 2 million people visit the Holy Kaaba in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, to perform Hajj in the name of Allah SWT.
For all of you who intend to perform Hajj next year, may you have a successful and safe journey, and may Allah SWT accept and bless your pilgrimage.