Hajj Guide - The Fifth Pillar of Islam

awqafThe Hajj - the Pilgrimage to Mecca-is essentially a series of rites performed in and near Mecca which is the holiest of the three holy cities of Islam-Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. As it is one of the five pillars of Islam, which all believers must make at least once in their life.
The Hajj must be made between the eighth and the thirteenth days of the 12th month (called Dhu al-Hijjah) of the Muslim lunar year.

Upon whom Hajj is Fard

To be a Muslim

To be mentally and physically fit

To be baaligh (reach the age of puberty)

To be a free person and not a slave

To be financially independent (free from debt)

To have sufficient provisions for your dependants whilst performing Haj

The Different Types of Hajj

Qiraan is a type of Hajj when a person performs umrah first and thereafter Hajj on condition that both the umrah and Hajj are performed with one ihraam during the same journey, without going beyond the haram boundry

Tamattu is a type of Hajj where one performs an umrah during the month of Hajj,(Shawaall, Dhul- Qa’dah and the first eight days of Dhul-Hijjah) thereafter the ihraam is released and Hajj performed the same year without leaving the meeqat boundry.

Ifraad is a type of Hajj wherein one performs Hajj only during the days of Hajj.

ihraamDonning the Ihram

In a general sense, the Pilgrimage begins with the donning of the Ihram, a white seamless garment.
The Ihram is symbol of the pilgrims’ search for purity and their renunciation of mundane pleasures. For men this garment consists of two lengths of white material, one covering the body from waist to ankle, the other thrown over the shoulder.

For women it is customarily, but not necessarily, a simple white gown and a head -covering without a veil.
At the moment of donning the Ihram the pilgrims enter a state of grace and purity in which they may not engage in any disputes, commit any violent acts or indulge in sexual relations.

Uttering the Talbiyah

In donning the Ihram the pilgrims also make a formal Declaration of Pilgrimage and pronounce a devotional utterance called the Talbiyah. A phrase which they will repeat frequently during the Pilgrimage as an indication that they have responded to God’s call to make the Pilgrimage. “Labbayka Allaahumma labbayk, labbayka laa shareeka laka labbayk. Inna al-hamd wa’l-ni’mata laka wa’l-mulk, laa shareeka lak (Here I am, O Allaah, here I am. Here I am, You have no partner, here I am. Verily all praise and blessings are Yours, and all sovereignty, You have no partner).”


Entering the Haram

After donning the Ihram- and only after- the pilgrims may enter the Haram. In a sense, the Haram is merely a geographical area which surrounds Mecca. But because its frontiers were established by Abraham and confirmed by Muhammad(pbuh), the Haram is considered a sacred precinct within which man, undomesticated plants, birds and beasts need fear no molestation and all violence, even the plucking of a wild flower, is forbidden.

For the duration of the Hajj, Mecca and the Sanctuary that surrounds it have a special status. To cross the frontiers of the Haram-which lie outside Mecca between three and 18 miles from the Ka’bah-pilgrims from outside Saudi Arabia must now have a special Hajj visa in their passports. The visa must be stamped by immigration officials stationed at various check points on roads leading into the Haram and it entitles pilgrims to travel only within the Haram and to certain other places that pilgrims must, or customarily do, visit. Non-Muslims are strictly forbidden to enter the Haram under any circumstances.

Going to Minamina

On the eighth day of Dhu al-Hijjah the assembled pilgrims begin the Hajj by going-some on foot, most by bus, truck and car-to Mina. Mina is a small uninhabited village five miles east of Mecca,and pilgrims spend the night-as the Prophet (pbuh) himself did on his Farewell Pilgrimage - meditating and praying in preparation for “the Standing” (Wuquf), which will occur the next day and which is the central rite of the Hajj.

Standing at ‘Arafat

arafaatOn the morning of the ninth day, the pilgrims move in masse from Mina to the Plains of ‘Arafat for “the Standing,” the culmination, but not the end-of the pilgrimage. In what is a basically simple ceremony the pilgrims gather on the plains and, facing Mecca, meditate and pray. Some pilgrims literally stand the entire time, from shortly before noon to just before sunset, but despite the name of the ceremony, are not required to do so.

Pilgrims may, and most do, sit, talk, eat, and, although not required to do so, climb to the summit of a 200 foot hill called the Mount of Mercy (Jabal al-Rahmah) at the bottom of which Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) delivered his Farewell Sermon during his Pilgrimage.

Going to Muzdalifah

Just after sunset, which is signalled by cannon fire, the pilgrims gathered at Arafat, immediately proceed in masse to a place called Muzdalifah a few miles back toward Mina. Traditionally, there, the pilgrims sleep under the stars after gathering a number of pebbles for use during the rites on the following days. Some gather 49 pebbles, other 70, and still others wait until they get to Mina.

Stoning the Pillars


Before daybreak on the 10th, again roused by cannon, the pilgrims continue their return to Mina. There they throw seven of the stones which they collected at Muzdalifah at one of three whitewashed, rectangular masonry pillars. The particular pillar which they stone on this occasion is generally thought to represent “the Great Devil” that is, Satan, who three times tried to persuade Abraham to disobey God’s command to sacrifice his son and the throwing of the pebbles symbolizes the pilgrim’s repudiation of evil.

Performing the Sacrifice

Now begins the greatest feast of Islam: the Eid al-Adha-the Feast of Sacrifice. After the throwing of the seven stones the pilgrims who can afford it buy a sheep, a goat or a share of some other sacrificial animal, sacrifice it and give away a portion of the meat to the poor. The Sacrifice has several meanings: it commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son; it symbolizes the believer’s preparedness to give up what is dearest him; it marks the Muslim renunciation of idolatrous sacrifice; it offers thanksgiving to God; and it reminds the pilgrim to share his blessings with those less fortunate. Muslims everywhere are on the same day performing the sacrifice and thus vicariously sharing in the elation of the pilgrims in Mecca. The Sacrifice is also an integral part of a worldwide Muslim celebration that unites those on the Hajj with those elsewhere.

Donning the Ihram

As the pilgrims have now completed a major part of the Hajj, men shave their heads or clip their hair and women cut off a symbolic lock to mark partial deconsecrating. At this point the pilgrims may remove the Ihram, bathe and put on clean clothes, but although the period of consecration is now at an end, the prohibitions against intercourse still continue, for the Pilgrimage is not yet over.

Making the Tawaf

The pilgrims now proceed directly to Mecca and the Sacred Mosque, which encloses the Ka’bah, and, on a huge marble-floored oval, perform “the Circling” (Tawaf). The Tawaf consists essentially of circling the Ka’bah on foot seven times, reciting a prayer during each circuit. It signifies the unity of God and man and reminds believers that the Patriarch Abraham, his son Ishmael and Muhammad (peace be upon them), emphasized the importance of the Ka’bah.

Kissing the Hajjar al-Aswad (Black Stone)

While circling the Ka’bah the pilgrims should, if they can, kiss or touch the Black Stone (Hajjar Al-aswad), which is embedded in the southeastern corner of the Ka’bah and which is the precise starting point of the seven circuits. Failing this, they salute it. Kissing the Stone is a ritual that is performed only because the Holy Prophet (pbuh) did it and not because any powers or symbolism attach to the Stone per se.
After completing the last circuit of the Ka’bah, the pilgrims go to the “Place of Abraham,” also within the courtyard, and worship Allah at the spot where Abraham himself offered up his devotions to God. That site is now marked by an octagonal metal and crystal structure recently built.
The Tawaf after Mina is called the Tawaf of the Return and is the last essential ritual. The pilgrims are now fully deconsecrated and are Hajjis-that is they have completed the Hajj.

Making the Saee

Although the key rituals of the Hajj have been completed, most pilgrims also include “the Running” (Saee), a re-enactment of the search for water by Hagar, wife of Abraham. Hagar was led into the desert with her infant son Ishmael and left near the present site of Mecca. Frantic for water for the child, she ran desperately back and forth seven times between two rocky hillocks, one called al-Safa the other al-Marwa, until the Angel Gabriel appeared and, stamping the ground with his heel, brought forth water for her and her child. This is the origin of the Well of Zamzam, now enclosed in a marble chamber beneath the courtyard of the Sacred Mosque. Pilgrims drink from the well before starting the Saee.

In performing the Saee, the pilgrims enter a spacious enclosed gallery or corridor appended to the Sacred Mosque and called the “the Place of Running” (al-Mas’a) and approach al-Safa, one of the hillocks, now little more than a knoll at the end of the gallery. Facing toward the Ka’bah, the pilgrims declare their intention of performing the Saee, descend to the Mas’a and walk briskly between the hills seven times.

Returning to Mina

It is also customary for the pilgrims to return to Mina between the 11th and 13th-for the third time-where they cast their remaining pebbles at each of the three pillars, seven stones at each pillar on each of the days they are there, for a total of either 49 or 70 pebbles. They also visit with other pilgrims.


Before leaving Mecca it is also customary to make a final Tawaf around the Ka’bah as a means of bidding the Holy City farewell and most pilgrims, if they have time, also take this opportunity to pay a visit to the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina, 277 miles to the north. This is not a part of the Pilgrimage, but it is considered meritorious to pray in the mosque which the Prophet (pbuh) himself founded.

The Umrah

Upon first entering Mecca, before beginning the Hajj, pilgrims also perform a Tawaf and a Saee. These two rites, coupled with the donning of the Ihram at the border of the Sanctuary - constitute the ‘Umrah, or “the Lesser Pilgrimage.” The ‘Umrah is essentially a mark of respect paid to the city of Mecca upon first entering it and although it is a requirement for pilgrims arriving from outside Mecca-a necessary prelude to the Pilgrimage and involves two of the same rites, it is not part of the Hajj. It is also required for Muslims who visit Mecca at other times of the year because that was the practice of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) himself. But there is only one Hajj-the ceremony which on those special days of Dhu al-Hijjah gathers and unites millions of the faithful from every corner of the earth.

For a list of National Registered Accredited Hajj Operators by SAHUC click here

The Sunnah of Eid al-Adha

In keeping with the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad, Muslims are encouraged to prepare themselves for the occasion of Eid. Below is a list of things Muslims are recommended to do in preparation for the Eid al-Adha festival:

1. Wake up early (before sunrise).
2. Make wudu (ablution) and offer Salat al-Fajr (the pre-sunrise prayer).
3. Prepare for personal cleanliness - take care of details of clothing, etc.
4. Take a Ghusl (bath) after Fajr prayer.
5. Brush teeth (preferably with a miswak, or tooth-stick).
6. Dress up, putting on new or best clothes available (White, when available, is optimal).
7. Apply (alcohol free) perfume (attar) (men only).
8. It is customary to eat dates preferably or something before going to Eid prayers but you can't eat sacrificed meat as Sacrifice must be done after Eid prayers to be accepted as Sacrifice otherwise it becomes just normal meat and no reward for sacrifice.
9. Go to the prayer grounds (known as an 'Eidgah') early.
10. Offer Salat al-Eid (the congregational Eid prayer) in an open place, weather permitting, or in mosque.
11. Use two separate routes when travelling to and from the Eid prayer location.
12. Recite the following Takbir which starts at Maghrib (sunset) on the 9th of Dhu al-hijah and last until the Asr on the 12th Dhu al-ilhijah: Allahu-Akbar, Allahu-Akbar, Allahu-Akbar. La ilaha illa-lah wallahu-Akbar. Allahu-Akbar wa-lillahil-hamd, which translates to: "Allah (God) is the Greatest (3 times); there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and Allah is the Greatest. Allah is the Greatest and to Him are due all praises."

Rules Related to the Person offering the Sacrifice

Who is Required to Perform Qurbani?

Every adult Muslim, male or female, who owns 613.35 grams of silver or its equivalent in money, personal ornaments, stock-in-trade or any other form of wealth which is surplus to his basic needs, is under an obligation to offer a Qurbani. Each adult member of a family who owns the above mentioned amount must perform his own Qurbani separately. If the husband owns the required quantity, but the wife does not, the Qurbani obligatory on the husband only and vice-versa. If both of them have the prescribed amount of wealth, both should perform Qurbani separately.

If the adult children live with their parents, Qurbani is obligatory on each one of them possessing the prescribed amount. The Qurbani offered by a husband for himself does not fulfil the obligation of his wife, nor can the Qurbani offered by a father discharge his son or daughter from their obligation. Each one of them should care for his own.

However, if a husband or a father, apart from offering his own Qurbani, gives another Qurbani on behalf of his wife or his son, he can do so with their permission.


1. Being a Muslim
2. It is beneficial for the one who intends to offer the sacrifice that he does not remove any hair or nail from the sunset on last day of Zhul-Qa’dah until the sacrifice is done on the Eid day
3. Doing the slaughter with one’s own hands. If one is not able to do so then he can appoint some one else to do the slaughter on his behalf. In such case one should witness his slaughter if at all possible.
4. It is a necessary condition of the sacrifice that the animal be slaughtered with the intention of offering a sacrifice (udhiyah). The intention must be in the heart, and should not be spoken out loud.
5. Taking the Name of Allah at the time of slaughter.


For the validity of the sacrifice it is essential that the animals are free of defect. The sacrifice will not be valid if a defective animal is sacrificed. The following faults are some examples that will be regarded as defects for the purpose of sacrifice: Blindness in both or one eye, A third or more of an ear cut off, A third or more of the tail cut off, An extremely emaciated and weak animal.


  • The animal to be slaughtered should first be fed and watered; it should not be slaughtered when it is hungry and thirsty.
  • It should not be dragged along to the place of slaughter.
  • It should be laid on the ground with ease as it is abominable to use undue force.
  • It should be laid on the ground on its left side facing the Qiblah, so that it may die easily.
  • The knife should be sharp; it should never be slaughtered with a blunt knife.
  • If the knife is to be sharpened, it should not be sharpened in front of the animal.
  • An animal should not be slaughtered in the presence of another.
  • As soon as the animal has been placed on the ground, one should hurry to slaughter it, undue delay must be avoided.
  • The animal should not be slaughtered with such force that the head is severed or the knife reaches the spinal cord.
  • The above mentioned injunctions are not peculiar to sacrificial animals only; they are meant for any animal that is to be slaughtered.


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