Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam that is performed at a particular place at q particular time of the year. It is a set of rituals that spreads over five days and is performed at Makkah, Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah.
Every Muslim having enough strength and wealth must perform Hajj at least once in his lifetime. Islam is based on five deeds; the word of faith, Salah, Sawm, Zakah and Hajj. The word of faith is to testify that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger. Salah is to offer Prayer five times a day at particular time period and with certain conditions. Sawm is observing fasting for 30 days in the month of Ramadan.
Zakah is giving alms to the poor in which a particular percentage of the possessions of money, gold, silver and cattle wealth should be given to the poor every year. Finally, comes Hajj which is to be performed at least once in the lifetime. While all the four deeds could be done at any place, Hajj could be performed only at the place meant for that deed.
Ihram in Hajj
Hajj starts with entering into Ihram (wearing special dress). When a person is in Ihram, he is forbidden from doing certain things like having sex, removing hair, etc. Hajj ends with Tawaf Az-Ziyarah (circumambulation of visiting). Hajj is a must only for those who are capable of doing it since it demands more money, more energy and more mental power. So, it is better to perform Hajj at one’s young age.
Rituals of Hajj
When the days of Hajj starts, people have to wear Ihram, the seamless white dress for men, and the normal dress for ladies. Covering the face at that time is prohibited both for men and women and covering head for men is also forbidden. That is why the pictures of Hajj show men in white dress with open heads.
Pilgrims start their Hajj by going to Mina. They stay in Mina for a day and then go to `Arafat Mountain the next morning after the Fajr (dawn) prayer. Then the time of Hajj starts at noon. Making Du`aa or supplicating Allah to give all goodness is the main deed at `Arafat. After Maghrib prayer time, Pilgrims should leave the place to Muzdalifah without praying Maghrib. Muzdalifah is located approximately 8 km from `Arafat. After reaching Muzdalifah, they should pray both Maghrib and `Isha’ prayers.
After spending the night at Muzdalifah, they should leave to Mina to throw stones. This should be done before noon. Stoning of Satan continues for three days. In the meantime, the pilgrims should head over to Makkah and finish their Tawaf Az-Ziyarah. Once it is completed, they are out of Ihram and could lead normal life.
In real sense during the days of Hajj, the pilgrims relive the life of Prophet Ibrahim and his son Prophet Ismail (peace be upon them). Allah (glory be to Him) was pleased with their sacrifice and so He has destined all pilgrims to revive certain moments of their life in order to show his love for his Prophet.
After completing Hajj, people stay in Mecca for few days and then go to Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah. The blessed Madinah is the place where Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) lived his later part of life and where he died and was buried. Though visiting his burial ground is not a necessary part of Hajj, people go there to offer their Salam to their beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) before they return home.
Source: Taken from www.whatisHajj.com with modifications.