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About Hajj

What is Hajj?

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 The Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) is one of the five pillars of Islam, the obligations that all Muslims must uphold. Every adult Muslim (male or female) who has the physical and financial means is required to travel to Mecca to perform the Hajj once in his or her lifetime. In Mecca, Muslims from all over the world gather in a display of faith, unity, and solidarity by recreating the ritual that the prophet Muhammad performed in his last pilgrimage

Preparing for Hajj

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  1. Be sure you are ready to perform the      Hajj. The Hajj is not to be undertaken lightly or as an afterthought.      In ancient times, it was not uncommon for pilgrims to die during their      journey to Mecca. Though modern conveniences now allow millions of Muslims      to quickly and safely travel to and from the holy city, the Hajj should      still be approached with the seriousness and dedication of these early      pilgrims. Study the rituals of the Hajj, begin to clear your mind of      worldly distractions, and, most importantly, be repentant for past sins,      which will be forgiven during your pilgrimage.

· As with all forms of Muslim worship, the Hajj must be undertaken with sincerity and out of a devotion to God (Allah). The Hajj cannot be performed for the purpose of gaining worldly recognition or material gains in this life.

· The Hajj must be performed in accordance with the prophet Muhammad's words and deeds as described in the Sunnah.

  1. Decide which type of Hajj you will      undertake. Muslims have three different options when it comes to      performing the Hajj. Each offers a slightly different experience in terms      of the rituals performed and the timeline of events on the pilgrimage. The      three types of pilgrimage are:[3]

· Tamattu'. This is the most common form of pilgrimage and the one recommended by the prophet Muhammad himself. Tamattu' involves the pilgrim performing the rites of the minor pilgrimage ritual known as Umrah, then performing the rites of the Hajj. Pilgrims performing Tamattu' are called Mutamatti. As this is the most common type of pilgrimage, especially for foreigners to Saudi Arabia, the rest of this guide assumes you will be performing this type of pilgrimage.

· Qiran. In this option, the pilgrim performs the rites of both the Umra and Hajj in one continuous act with no "break" in the middle. Pilgrims performing Qiran are called Qaarin.

· Ifraad. Finally, this form of pilgrimage involves performing only the rites of the Hajj - not of the Umra as well. This form of pilgrimage is also notable for being the only one that does not require animal sacrifice. Pilgrims performing Ifraad are called Mufrid.

  1. Plan your trip to Saudi Arabia.       You are off to a great start by choosing Flying Angle. The Hajj      takes place in and around the holy city of Mecca, which today is located      in the country of Saudi Arabia. As when traveling to any foreign country,      you will want to have your passports, travel documents, tickets, and so      forth sorted out well in advance. Keep in mind that national governments      can sometimes be slow to issue new passports when old ones expire.

· The Hajj occurs from the 8th to the 12th of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th month of the Islamic calendar. Because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, the date of the Hajj changes from year to year on the Western Gregorian calendar. Note that, according to the Saudi government, the last day that pilgrims are allowed to arrive at King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah for the Hajj is the 4th of Dhu al-Hijjah.

· The Saudi government offers special "Hajj visas" to American Muslims who have not made the pilgrimage in the last five years.[5] Obtaining one of these visas requires an up-to-date passport, a completed application form, copies of marriage or birth certificates, and an up-to-date immunization record.

· Pilgrims often travel to perform the Hajj in groups as a sign of solidarity. Contact members of your local Muslim community to see if any are performing Hajj this year - if so, you may want to consider coordinating your trips.

  1. Prepare to be immersed in      religion. As a traditionalist Islamic monarchy, the nation of Saudi      Arabia has rules for personal conduct, especially that of women, that may      be unfamiliar to foreigners. All women performing the Hajj should plan to      travel in the company of a Mahram - a close relative, husband,      in-law, etc. Women over 45 can perform the Hajj without a Mahram if they      are part of a large group and have a notarized letter of consent from      their husband.

· All people - women and men - who are attending the Hajj should prepare to be exceedingly modest for the duration of their stay in Saudi Arabia. Clothing must be modest and unadorned - for much of the pilgrimage; special religious garb is required for men. Cologne, perfume, makeup, and scented soap should be avoided. When a pilgrim enters the sacred Ihram state of ritual purity, smoking, swearing, shaving, cutting one's nails, and sexual intercourse are forbidden.

Preforming the rites of Hajj & Umrah

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  1. Assume Ihram. Ihram is a holy state of      purity that all Muslims must assume before performing the rites of Umra      and Hajj and which much be maintained for the duration of the rituals.      Ihram requires certain physical actions and behavioral changes, but don't      be mistaken - the real state of purity is attained spiritually      by proclaiming one's intention to sincerely pursue the Umra/Hajj and by      reciting the Talbiyah prayer. Thus, someone who assumes Ihram externally      but doesn't have sincere belief in his or her heart isn't truly fulfilling      Ihram. Men and women enter into Ihram differently.

· Men: Shave, comb your hair, trim or shape your facial hair, cut your nails, and remove unwanted body hair. Bathe (or perform wudu, partial ablution) with the intention of Ihram, but don't apply cologne or other scents. Sincerely repent for your sins.

· Clothe yourself in clean, plain Ihram sheets - wrap one around your waist and wear the other over your upper body. Wear simple sandals or flip flops that don't cover the top portion of your foot. Avoid covering your head. These simple garments signify the equality of all before God - the wealthiest king and the lowliest beggar wear the same clothes on the Hajj.

· Women: As with men, you should shave and groom yourself, bathe, avoid applying scents, etc. You should also avoid applying makeup or other cosmetics. However, besides the requisite sandals, women don't have special clothes for Ihram - their ordinary clothes should be used, provided that they are clean and modest.

· Note that in Islam, covering the head with a veil, scarf, etc. is "mandatory" attire for women and should be done on the Hajj too.

  1. Declare your intention and say the      Talbiyah. A special boundary called a Miqat surrounds the holy sites      of the Hajj. Pilgrims cannot cross this boundary without having attained      the pure state of Ihram. When a pilgrim in the state of Ihram approaches      the Miqat at one of six historical entry points, he pronounces the Niyyah -      a short recitation of his intention to complete the Umra. Then, at the      Miqat, the pilgrim recites the Talbiyah, a prayer that will be repeated      often during the pilgrimage. The words of the Talbiyah are:

· "Here I am O Allah, (in response to your call), here I am. Here I am, you have no partner, here I am. Verily all praise, grace and sovereignty belong to you. You have no partner."

· If she or he has not already entering into the state of Ihram, the pilgrim must do so at the Miqat before crossing.

· Note - it is tradition to enter these holy entryways and most other holy buildings right foot first.

  1. Proceed towards the Ka'bah - the      most sacred location in Islam. At first sight of the Ka'bah, keep      your eyes fixed on it and stand to the side of the crowd as you say      "Allahu Akbar" ("God is Great") three times, followed      by saying "La Ilaha Illallah" ("There is no god but      God"). Recite other holy verses if you desire. Say a blessing for the      prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and, in total humility, make your      prayers to Allah. This is an especially propitious, auspicious time to      pray for something.
  2. Perform the Tawaf. Tawaf is a      ritual where Muslims circle the Ka'bah. To begin, men should make sure      their Ihram garb is properly arranged - make sure the upper sheet passes      under the right arm and lays across the left shoulder, exposing the right      shoulder. Next, all should face the Ka'bah so that the Black Stone is on      your right. Make another Niyyah for Umra, saying: " O Allah, I      perform Tawaf of Umra to please you. Make it easy for me and accept it      from me."

· Next, begin to move to the right. Draw close to the Black Stone (the Eastern cornerstone of the Ka'bah) and, if possible, kiss it. If can't get close enough to kiss it, you may touch it with your hand. If you can't get close enough to touch or kiss it, lift your hands to your ears, palms facing towards the Black Stone, and recite this short prayer: "Bismi'Llah Allahu akbar wa li'Lah al-hamad". Don't shove or fight for a chance to touch the Black Stone.

· Begin to circle the Ka'bah. Walk counter-clockwise so that the Ka'bah stays at your left. Circle the Ka'bah seven times, praying as you do so. There are no designated prayers for the Tawaf, so you may use ones from your daily life or simply pray from your heart. You may also point at the Black Stone each time you walk by it.

· When you've completed seven circles, you are finished. Men can now cover their right shoulder.

  1. Perform Sa'ey. Sa'ey means      "to run" or "to make an effort". In practical terms,      it means walking back and forth seven times between the hills of Safa and      Marwah which are to the South and North of the Ka'bah, respectively.      Originally, this was done outdoors, but today, the entire path is enclosed      in a long gallery.

· When you reach the top of Safa, recite another Niyyah, saying: "" O Allah! I perform Sa’ey between Safa and Marwah to please You. Make it easy for me and accept it from me." Then, add: "Inn-as-Safa wal-Marwah min Sha’a’irillah" ("Indeed Safa and Marwah are among the Signs of Allah.") Finally, face the Ka'bah and recite "Allahu Akbar" three times. Add any additional prayers you may wish, then proceed towards Marwah.

· As you move towards Marwah, recite: "Subhan-Allah wal-hamdu-lillahi wa la ilaha ill-Allah wa-Allahu Akbar wa la haula wa la quwwata illa-billa", or, if you can't remember this, use the shortened form, "Subhan Allah, Alhamdu Lillah, Allahu Akbar." You may add any prayers you wish. At the top of Marwah, repeat the glorification of God while facing the Ka'bah, then walk down from the hill again.

· When you've walked back and forth seven times, you are finished.

  1. Have your hair shaved or      clipped. After completing the Sa'ey, men should have their hair      either completely shaved or cut short - both are permissible, though      shaving is preferred. However, a man may not want to have his head shaved      completely during the Umra if he plans to complete the Hajj rites in the      next few days, which also include shaving. Women should not have their      heads shaved but instead may cut a lock of hair or have their hair trimmed      several inches.

· After the ritual hair-cutting, Umra is complete and the restrictions of Ihram are lifted. You can return to your normal activities, wear your normal clothes, etc. However, if, like many pilgrims, you will proceed to complete the Hajj in the next few days, know that you will need to re-enter Ihram to do so.