Hajj 2024: Step-by-step guide to rituals of Muslims' pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, their meanings and symbolism - Hindustan Times
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Hajj 2024: Step-by-step guide to rituals of Muslims' pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, their meanings and symbolism

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Jun 12, 2024 08:07 PM IST

Hajj 2024: From Ihram to Tawaf, here's all you need to know about the key rituals of 5-day Hajj - their meanings and symbolism for Muslims pilgrimage to Mecca

Hajj is a profound spiritual journey that unites Muslims from diverse backgrounds, cultures and languages as it reinforces the principles of equality, humility and devotion to God where through the Islamic pilgrimage, the pilgrims seek forgiveness, spiritual purification and a deeper connection with their faith. It is an experience of a lifetime that leaves a lasting impact on the hearts and minds of those who undertake it hence, it is a transformative experience for Muslims.

Water mist is sprayed on Muslim pilgrims as they pray on the rocky hill known as the Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on June 27, 2023. Hajj 2024: Step-by-step guide to rituals of Muslims' pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, their meanings and symbolism (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)
Water mist is sprayed on Muslim pilgrims as they pray on the rocky hill known as the Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on June 27, 2023. Hajj 2024: Step-by-step guide to rituals of Muslims' pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, their meanings and symbolism (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

Hajj is not only a pillar of Islam but a bridge to spiritual enlightenment and a testament to human unity and equality as it is a journey, not just of kilometers, but of faith and the soul. The annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia is a test of patience and an opportunity for Muslims to purify themselves as a hadith in Sahih Bukhari states the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) saying, “Whoever performs Hajj and does not commit any obscenity or transgression will come back as free from sins as the day his mother bore him.”

With Hajj 2024 just around the corner i.e. from June 14, here's all you need to know about the rituals of Hajj -

  1. Ihram: Pilgrims enter a state of consecration called ihram. They dress in simple white garments, symbolising equality and the renunciation of worldly possessions.
  2. Tawaf: Pilgrims perform a series of circumambulations around the Kaaba, the sacred black cube located in the center of the Masjid al-Haram. This act signifies the unity of Muslims and their devotion to God.
  3. Sa'i: Pilgrims walk between the hills of Safa and Marwa, following the path of Hajar (Hagar), the wife of Ibrahim, who searched for water for her son Ismail (Ishmael). It symbolises perseverance and trust in God's provisions.
  4. Arafah: Pilgrims gather on the plain of Arafah, where they engage in prayer, supplication, and contemplation. It is considered the most crucial day of Hajj, known as the Day of Arafah.
  5. Muzdalifah and Mina: Pilgrims spend the night in Muzdalifah, collecting pebbles for the next ritual. They then proceed to Mina, where they perform the symbolic stoning of the devil by casting pebbles at three stone pillars.
  6. Eid al-Adha: The culmination of Hajj is marked by the celebration of Eid al-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice. Pilgrims sacrifice an animal, typically a sheep or a goat, symbolising Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son.

It is often assumed that Eid ul Adha falls a day after Hajj however, it is not true nor has this ever been the norm followed by Muslims all over the world. After the crescent moon for the month is sighted and the first day of Dhul Hijjah is established, then the tenth of that month is calculated hence, the date of Eid ul Adha is different for different places.

On a more elaborate note, Hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, takes place from the 8th to the 12th of Dhul Hijjah where on 8th Dhul Hijjah (Yawm at-Tarwiyah), pilgrims begin their Hajj rituals; on 9th Dhul Hijjah (Yawm Arafat), the most significant day of Hajj, pilgrims gather on the plain of Arafat to pray and seek forgiveness while on the day of Eid ul Adha i.e. 10th Dhul Hijjah (Yawm an-Nahr), pilgrims perform the ritual of animal sacrifice (Qurbani) to commemorate the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to Allah. Allah provided a ram to sacrifice instead. Finally, Hajj ends on 12th Dhul Hijjah.

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