"To learn about a religion is to understand its people"Hajj (Arabic: حج Ḥajj) is the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
It is currently the largest annual pilgrimage in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so.
The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God (Allah in the Arabic language).
The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th and last month of the Islamic calendar. Because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, eleven days shorter than the Gregorian calendarIhram is the name given to the special state in which Muslims live whilst on the pilgrimage. used in the Western world, the Gregorian date of the Hajj changes from year to year.
The Hajj is associated with the life of Islamic prophet Muhammad from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time of AbrahamIbrahim). Pilgrims join processions of hundreds of thousands of people, who simultaneously converge on Mecca for the week of the Hajj, and perform a series of rituals: (
- Each person walks counter-clockwise seven times about the Kaaba, the cube-shaped building which acts as the Muslim direction of prayer,
- Runs back and forth between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah.
- Drink from the Zamzam Well.
- Stan vigil on the plains of Mount Arafat..
- Throw stones in a ritual Stoning of the Devil.
- The pilgrims then shave their heads, perform a ritual of animal sacrifice, and celebrate the three day global festival of Eid al-Adha.