About The Pilgrimage To Mecca - Hajj

The Hajj is a yearly pilgrimage to Mecca and is presently the greatest yearly pilgrimage worldwide - and also the fifth pillar of Islam. It is a religious obligation that should be performed at least one time in every Muslim’s life. The Mecca Pilgrimage is an expression of the unity of the Muslims, and their compliance to God. The pilgrimage takes place from the 7th - 13th day of Dhu al-Hijjah which is the 12th month of the Islamic calendar. In 2010, the Hajj is expected to fall between November 14-18.

The Hajj is linked to the life of Muhammad, the Islamic prophet from the 7th century. However the sacrament of pilgrimage to Mecca is believed to go back thousands of years to the era of Abraham. Pilgrims join marches with hundreds of thousands of persons, who concurrently meet on Mecca for the week of the Hajj, and carry out a sequence of rituals.

Upon reaching the border of Mecca, pilgrims enter a state of ihram (purity) where they remain during the Hajj. Males going into this pure state wear the ihram clothing which entails two white seamless sheets draped around the body and sandals. This characteristic of the ritual symbolizes the state of holiness the pilgrims have entered and serves to supply to a sense of impartiality and harmony by erasing visual signs of wealth, culture and class. Conditions for females are less strict, although they normally dress in white with just hands and faces exposed. Pilgrims should not engage in sexual relations, cut their hair or nails, fight, argue or hunt while in this state of ihram.

After entering the city of Mecca, the pilgrims initially walk around the Ka'ba (the structure which acts as the Muslim direction of prayer) seven times (this is known as the tawaf), while saying the talbiya. Then they kiss or touch the Black Stone in the Ka'ba, pray two times towards the Ka'ba and the Station of Abraham and run seven times amid the tiny mountains of Marwa and Safa.

The second phase of the Hajj occurs between the 8th and 12th days of Dhu al-Hijja, starting with khutba (sermon) at the mosque on the 7th day. On the 8th day and night, the pilgrims reside at Arafat or Mina. On the 9th day, the ceremony of wuquf (standing) occurs at the small hill of Jabal al-Rahma in Arafat. The pilgrims then go back to a small town inside the Meccan boundaries called Muzdalifa, and stay for the night ... more

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