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What Is Hajj? the Islamic Pilgrimage and its Rituals

Millions of Muslims crowd into Mecca to perform the hajj each year.

Hajj in language means to visit a sacred place. And in Islam, it means visiting Kaaba; the holiest place on earth is, in specific months: Shawwal, Dhul-Qidah, and Dhul Hijjah.

Hajj has great importance in Islam, making it an obligation for any Muslim whenever he/she meets its conditions extracted from Quran and sunna. Read more to know the significance of Hajj and how to do its rituals step by step.

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What Is Hajj and Why Is It Important?

Hajj has a great place in Islam, as it is the fifth pillar of Islam. It is a school where the Muslim is raised in obedience and devotion to God and transcending over the world’s pleasures and its vanities.

It’s the Fifth Pillar of Islam

Hajj is one of the obligations of Islam and one of the pillars on which Islam is based, with evidence in the Qur’an, the Sunnah, and consensus. Among the texts that indicate the obligation of Hajj from the Quran in Surah Al Imran is:

In it are clear signs and the standing-place of Abraham. Whoever enters it should be safe. Pilgrimage to this House is an obligation by Allah upon whoever is able among the people.

Also, the prophet Mohammed said:

“Islam is based on five things: the testimony that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is His servant and messenger, the observance of the prayer, the payment of zakat, the Pilgrimage, and the fast during Ramadan.” (Bukhari and Muslim.)

The Muslims have also unanimously agreed that the pilgrimage must be performed by an adult, sane, free Muslim once in a lifetime if he can perform it.

It Has Great Virtues

Hajj has great virtues in Islam, and it’s one of the highly spiritual acts of worship; and many indications demonstrate the virtues of hajj in Isalm.

  • It’s one of the greatest deeds.

He said that God’s messenger was asked what action was most excellent and replied that it was faith in God and His messenger. He was asked what came next and replied that it was jihad in God’s path. He was asked what came next and replied that it was an accepted pilgrimage.

  • It’s an expiation for wrong deeds.

(The performance of) ‘Umrah is an expiation for the sins committed between it and the previous ‘Umrah, and the reward of Hajj Mabrur (i.e., one accepted) is nothing but Jannah.[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

What Is the Difference Between Hajj and Umrah in Islam?

There are many differences between hajj and Umra, as shown below.

Differences between Hajj/UmrahHajjUmrah
DefinitionVisiting the sacred house of Allah at specific times to perform specific ritesVisiting the sacred house of Allah to perform specific rites
Obligation degreeobligatory/ wajib for any Muslim when conditions are metSunnah mu’akkadah or “confirmed sunna
TimePerformed In the sacred moths: Shawwal, Dhul-Qidah, and Dhul-Hijjah.Any time during the year
DurationNot less than three daysIt can be done at 1:2 hours
VirtuesIt has a great reward in Islam: Paradise, expiation for all sins, and the best good deeds of Islam.It’s a reason for entering paradise.

Umrah in Ramadan equals a hajj in its virtues
ConditionIt’s obligatory for any adult Muslim, sane, free, financially and physically able.The same conditions.

Hajj Rituals for Pilgrims- Pilgrimage Rites Steps

Hajj should follow a specific consequence known as Pilgrimage rituals. Below, you’ll learn each step in detail. Keep reading

1. Start with Ihram

Before heading to Mecca, Muslims should do Ihram, which is the first ritual of Hajj. It includes cleansing the body and draping a specific attire that consists of two white pieces over the body. It’s a manly garment. However, women can wear plain, loose cloth, and they don’t abide by a specific color.

Ihram has a special meaning in Islam as it refers to purity, both in mind and body. Also, it expresses the transcend of the soul by denouncing worldly desires and sufficiency with one united uniform…All Muslims equally wear whether they are leaders or subordinates.

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2. Tawaf Around Kabba (the Sacred Site)

Upon arriving in Mecca, Muslims head to the Masjid Al haram (Kaaba), and they circumambulate around it for seven rounds. Each round starts with the Blackstone and ends with it. And it’s a sunna of the prophet Mohammed that Muslims hasten their steps and kiss or touch the Blackstone as possible.

Yahya related to me from Malik from Nafi that Abdullah ibn Umar used to hasten from the Black Stone round to the Black Stone three times and then would walk four circuits normally.

The Blackstone is thought to be sent to Ibraheem by Gabriel from paradise, and when Mohammed entered Kaaba at 8 A.D, he ordered all idols to be smashed but preserved this stone… So, it’s a symbol of veneration for millions of Muslims. Prophet Mohammed mentioned this Blackstone in a hadith, saying:

“The black stone descended from paradise whiter than milk, but the sins of the descendants of Adam made it black.”

3. Running Between Safa and Al Marwa Hills

This is the third ritual of Hajj, and it’s performed by prophet Moahmmed in the farewell pilgrimage.

Running between the hills of Safa and al Marwa has a great significance as in this act, Muslims reconfirm their faith In Allah and summon up the story of Hagar and her son Ishmael.

According to Quran, Ibraheem has left his wife, Hajir, with her little boy on an arid plain, committing to Allah’s order. When he abandoned him, he prayed to Allah, saying:

O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring dwell in an uncultivable valley by Your Sacred House in order, O our Lord, that they may perform Salah. So fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits so that they may give thanks.) (Ibraheem, 37)

Helpless and desperate, Hagar crossed the plain between Al Safa and Al Marwa seven times, trying to find some spring to fetch water so her thirsty little son could drink… It was a daunting task, but Hagar didn’t surrender until Allah ordered her son to knock the earth, and a spring spouted… After. This spring was called Zamzam Well, and people from around the kingdom crowded this place.

Therefore, When Muslims run between those hills, they commemorate the event of Hagar, her unwavering faith in Allah, and her relentless, brave attempt to do her best even if there is no hope looming on the horizon!

4. Heading to Mina

On the 8th of  Dhul Hijjah, pilgrims move to Mina, which is 7km away from the Majid Al Haram, to bring water, in readiness to stand on the Mount of Arafat the next day. So, this day is called youm al tarwiyah (يوم التروية).

Another narration says that the reason why it’s called your al tarwiyah as Prophet Ibraheem, peace upon him, see in his dreams that he’s killing his son.. and tarwiyah in Arabic means to see something.

5. Wakfat Arafat

Standing on the Arafat mount is the most important ritual in Hajj and the pilgrimage is not valid without it.

Prophet Mohammed said in a hadith:

‘Hajj is Arafat. Whoever catches up with the night of Arafat before dawn comes on the night of Jam (Al-Muzdalifah), his Hajj is complete.'”

The time of standing on the mountain begins with sunset on the 9th of  Dhul Hijjah until the dawn of the 10th of  Dhul Hijjah.

On this great day, pilgrims invoke Allah in their hearts by takbir and tahlil and thank Allah for all of his blessings, glorify his name, seek his forgiveness, and ask him for every wish he wants for him or his close people.

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6. Heading to Muzdalifah City to Collect Pebbles

Pilgrims Can Head to Muzdalifah After Sunrise on The 9th of  Dhul Hijjah.

It’s allowed for them to perform Maghrib and Ishaa together and shorten Isha prayer (to be two instead of 4)

After prayer, Pilgrims say Allah Akbar and pray. Then he picks up seven pebbles from the rocky plains of Muzdalifah to exorcise devils. which is the last ritual in Hajj

7. Throwing Stones in Mina

Throwing stones is a ritual performed by

At the midnight of 10th Dhul Hijjah, which marks the first day of Eid al Adha, Pilgrims reboard buses that return them back to Mina to stone the devils. In their camps in Mina, they can collect some extra pebbles from the foot of the hills at Muzdalifah to compensate for any losses.

Stoning the devil occurs in the Jamarat area and starts from the 10th Dhul Hijjah. And Pilgrims throw seven pebbles on the first day of Eid al Adha. They then continue to do it in the three upcoming days (Ayyam al Tashriq). In this event, Muslims stand at predetermined spots and throw pebbles at some constructed, bricky pillars until they throw them all.

Note: If the Pilgrim is in a hurry, he can stay for only two days and then leave Mina before sunset.

8. the Last Tawaf

This is the last ritual in Hajj. After stoning the stones in Mina, Muslim return to Kabba in the 12 or 13 of Dhul Hijjah to circumambulate around Kabba, and this last Tawaf is a sunna of the prophet Mohammed as he said in a hadith:

“one of you must go off till his obligations at the House are complete, except that this is remitted for a woman in her courses.” ( Bukhari and Muslim).

In this last tawaf, the pilgrims should be clean and make the Blackstone their starting point. Then circulate the Kabba for seven consecutive rounds.


Hajj is the fifth pillar in Islam and has been given a great significance for it’s an expiation for the sins and an obligation for any Muslim, adult, sane, and able financially and physically.

In this article, you’ve learned much about what is hajj in islam, its importance in Islam, and its eight rituals, from wearing Ihram cloth until the last tawaf in Kabba.

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