Here is what you need to know about Hajj

Once, every year Muslims worldwide travel to the city of Makkah. This trip is considered by Muslims a religious obligation, every one of them has to do at least once during their life. But why is this trip so important for them? Muslims consider this journey essential because it allows them to replicate the steps Prophet Muhammad did. The journey called Hajj is designed to last five days and it will take them to multiple locations in Makkah. The period of the trip is established every year according to the Islamic lunar calendar. Usually the trip happens when it is early autumn in the northern hemisphere.

Every year numerous Muslims from India visit Makkah in order to honour this religious tradition. Besides the physical travel, they will also take part in multiple rituals, some of them having their origin during the time of Ibrahim.

TOPSHOT – Muslim worshippers perform the evening (Isha) prayers at the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Mecca on August 25, 2017, a week prior to the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city / AFP PHOTO / BANDAR ALDANDANI

What do Muslims do during Hajj?

As stated before, this pilgrimage is considered crucial in the life of every Muslim. Within every 10 km from Makkah, the pilgrim enters a state of sacred purity names ihram. They will have to dress in special clothing items for ihram. The pilgrims have to wear two white seamless sheets wrapped around their body. In case the pilgrim is a woman, then she will have to wear a white head covering. Every Muslim knows that during Hajj they do not have to cut their nails or hair.

The ritual of entering Makkah’s Grand Mosque is called tawaf, and it is the first one during the trip. It is a ceremonial walk around the centrepiece of the holy city, the Ka’ba. All pilgrims will walk around the Ka’ba seven times, in the anti-clockwise direction, and they will pray at the same time.

In case this is the first time when you travel from India to Makkah, then you may not know that Ka’ba is placed inside the al-Masijid al-Haram mosque. All Muslims have to face towards it when they pray; it does not matter if they do it during the Hajj or as a regular meditation act.

During Hajj, all pilgrims will run between the two hills located close to this region, where a miracle water spring saved Hagar, Ibrahim’s second wife, and their child Ismail, from dying from thirst in the desert.

In case a pilgrim dies during the Hajj is believed that they will ascend to heaven and all their sins will be erased.

Why do Muslims worldwide perform Hajj once in their lifetime?

Muslims around the world praise Allah, and so do the ones from India, considering that Islam is the second largest religion in this country. Around 15% of the population identify themselves as Muslims, so Hajj journeys are something common, all Indians know about.

This trip is focused on your faith. Pilgrims consider that it is crucial they to respond to the command of their Lord and to submit to them. Actually, they feel content and happy to respect His commands. When a person loves another they find happiness in serving them, so do they when it comes to the Lord who created them. They perform the Hajj because if they do it in the manner He required, He will forgive their sins, and they will be accepted to heaven. The condition is that they should not commit another major action after they leave Makkah, because then they will have to face Allah’s anger.

What should you know before travelling from India to Makkah?

There are cases when Muslims have to register their names and wait a long period before their turn comes to take part in this journey. There are also cases when pilgrimages are organised for groups of young people who want to perform the Hajj. Once you find out that you will travel to Makkah, make sure to book your airplane ticket and to find accommodation. The luxury hotels from Makkah are a great accommodation solution for Indian travellers because they offer them all the amenities they need during the holy journey.

Can non-Muslims do the Hajj?

Non-Muslims are not allowed to do the Hajj. If you are not a Muslim and you want to visit Saudi Arabia, you should put on your list other destinations. You should expect when you enter the country your paperwork to be tightly controlled. If you are a Muslim and you want to get a Hajj visa, you should expect detailed paperwork to be required. A Saudi government travel agent will check your request and will approve the trip.

Are women and children allowed to perform Hajj?

Multiple times parents choose to take their children with them when they perform Hajj. But if you intend to do it, it is important to be informed, because the Hajj will not count toward fulfilling the children’s personal religious obligation. The pilgrim has to be mature spiritually and intellectually to make the decision to perform the Hajj and to understand its significance. Therefore, your children will join you only to get information about how they should perform the Haj when they will become adults.

When it comes to women, they are allowed to perform the Hajj, as long as they are financially and physically able. An important condition for them to make the journey is to be accompanied by an appropriate male guardian. All women who want to take part in the journey should know that during the Hajj, they do not have to wear a garment that covers them from head to toe. But this does not mean that women will choose to take them off, because they do not consider their clothing attire something enforced. Therefore, do not be surprised if you see that women choose to cover their face with large glasses during the Hajj.

Only old people perform the Hajj?

The Hajj is not considered important only by senior Muslims, Muslims of all ages want to perform it at least once in their life. Thousands of Indians travel to this pilgrimage every year. Many of them start saving for this journey since their childhood. Expect to meet there pilgrims from countries around the world, because this is the first dream they had since they were children.

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