THE STEPS OF HAJJ (At-tama'tu)
An annual gathering at Makkah long predates the coming of Al Islam, but the Muslim Hajj, the last of the five “pillars” of Al-Islam, is ordained in the Qur’an, and it was the Prophet Muhammad (prayers and peace be upon him) who, by his example , defined its elements exactly. Muslims from around the world follow in his footsteps to this day. The Hajj always takes place on the same six days of the lunar calendar, beginning on the 8th and ending on the 13th of the month of Dhul Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar year. The rites take place in five locations in and around Makkah: on the outskirts of the Holy City; in the Holy Masjid; on the plains of ‘Arafat; at Muzdalifah; and at the Jamarat. Each rite must be completed in a prescribed time.
Niyyah /Ihram (“intention/ purification ”) up to 14 days before Hajj
Can be performed up to 14 days prior to Hajj before entering Makkah. Before entering Makkah, pilgrims clean themselves physically and spiritually at designated time and places at the edge of the sacred precinct surrounding the city. At this time, you announce your intention to perform Hajj & Umrah by reciting an invocation, called the Talbiyah. Men dress in a simple garment of two seamless pieces of white cloth called ihram, which they wear for the duration of Hajj. Women wear modest and unobtrusive dress of any color, and cover their heads. For the next six days, all outward differences among pilgrims are diminished.
Tawaaf Al- Quddum (arrival) at the Holy Masjid before Hajj
Occurring prior to Hajj between the time you arrive in Makkah and the eighth of Dhul Hijjah, Tawaaf Al-Quddum is where Pilgrims greet the Holy Masjid by walking seven times counterclockwise around the Ka'bah. This circumambulation, which expresses the centrality of G’d in life, is called Tawaaf. This is the Tawaaf for Umrah. Then from the Uswah (example of Muhammad) pray two rakaats behind Maqam Ibrahim and drink from the water from the historical well of Zam Zam.
Sa’iy (walking between Safa and Marwah)
Along the eastern side of the Holy Masjid, pilgrims run seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwah, commemorating the desperate search for water of Ibrahim’s wife Hajar. This ritual, undertaken now in a 400-meter covered corridor, is called sa’iy. The spring that G’d brought forth for Hajar and her baby son, Ishmael, is Zamzam, which flows copiously still. With the seventh round of Sa’iy ending at Marwah, the pilgrim ends the state of Ihram, by shaving the head and removing the Ihram dress. This completes the rites of Umrah. Women only cut a few strands of hair (length of the tip of the pinky finger.) The Faraaid (obligations) of Umrah are 4 in number: 1. Niyyah & Ihram, 2. Tawaaf, 3. Sa’iy, and 4. Halaq which is the cutting of the hair (wajib, or a must)
Encampment at Mina: the first day of Hajj
On the eighth of Dhul Hijjah those pilgrims who exited Ihram after Umrah now state your intentions for Hajj and re-enter Ihram. Pilgrims gather in the flat valley of Mina, known as “the tent city”, about five kilometers (3 mi) east of Makkah. Meditating and praying in preparation for the next day. Here the believer prays the five Salah starting with dhuhr and ending with fajr of the next day.
Wuquf (“standing”) at Arafat: the second day
In the morning of the ninth, pilgrims continue 10 more kilometers (6mi) east to the plain of ‘Arafat. From noon prayers until sundown, this is the anticipated climax of the Hajj and the devotional pinnacle of Muslim spiritual life: Pilgrims pray, stand or sit- some for minutes, some for hours-before G’d reflecting on their lives and pray for mercy and renewal. Some climb Jabal Rahmah, the Mount of Mercy, a rocky hill at the foot which the Prophet Muhammad(Allah’s prayer and peace be upon him) delivered his farewell sermon. Dhuhr and asr prayers are combined.
Muzdalifah: the second night
After sundown at ‘Arafat, pilgrims turn back towards Makkah and stop for the night at Muzdalifah. There, most pick up to 49 pebble-like stones that they will throw at the three pillars of Jamarat over the next three days. The pilgrim stays in Muzdalifah until fajr of the next day. Magrib and isha prayers are combined.
Stoning at Jamarat and ‘Id al Adha: the third day
After Fajr on the 10th, pilgrims begin moving to a place just west of Mina called Jamarat (“stoning”). There you throw seven pebbles at the first of three pillars which have come to represent Shaitan. This symbolic repudiation of evil commemorates Ibrahim’s (upon him be peace) faith by sacrificing a sheep, as G’d commanded Ibrahim to do. Thus, this day is the first of the three-day “Id ul- Adha”, the “Feast of Sacrifice”. After throwing stones at the first pillar, men shave their heads, and women cut off a lock of their hair. Pilgrims may return to their customary clothes and minor restrictions of ihram are lifted.
‘Id ul-Adha and Tawaaf al-ifadah:
Pilgrims return to the Holy Masjid in Makkah, again circle the Ka’bah seven times and perform sa’iy again. This tawaaf and sa’iy are of the rites of hajj. At this point, the pilgrims are completely out of the state of ihram.
Return to Mina 10-13. days of tashriq(watering)
After sunrise of each day, stone all three Jamarat starting from smallest to largest. It is permissible to depart on the 12th after completion of stoning.
After the 12th, the pilgrim travels to Makkah to perform the Tawaaf Al Wida’, or farewell Tawaaf. This should be the last thing done in Makkah, as suggested by the Messenger of Allah (prayers and peace be upon him). This tawaaf is also required of those performing the Hajj.