The Obligation of Hajj
What is Hajj (Pilgrimage)?
Hajj is the 5th pillar of Islam. It is obligatory for those Muslims who can afford to make the journey to Makkah. It is a once in a lifetime obligation. It is performed from the 8th to the 13th of Dhul-Hijja, which is the 12th month of the Hijra (lunar) calendar. The history of Hajj goes back to Prophet Ibraheem (may Allah’s peace be upon him). Allah instructed Prophet Ibraheem:
“Expedite the performance of the duty of Hajj. For nobody knows what may obstruct one.”
Once you have met all the listed conditions, it is important to perform your fardh Hajj as soon as possible. Many people tend to leave this obligation until much later in their life. It is so much easier and better if one undertakes this journey while one is young and has the health and strength.
Methods of Hajj:
There are three types or methods of performing Hajj. The type you choose will depend on whether you live in Makkah; you wish to perform Umrah along with Hajj; you wish to offer an animal for sacrifice. All three methods fulfill all the Islamic requirements for the Hajj.
- The rites of Umrah and Hajj begin by entering into the state of Ihraam.
- For men it is very apparent as they have a specific garment to wear. It is two clean preferably white unfitted pieces of The lower part of the Ihraam is referred to as Izar and the top part as Rida.
- The shoes/sandals must not cover the ankles (it does not have to be plastic, as stitched leather or other material, sandals or shoes are acceptable).
- Women are free to wear what they please. Needless to mention, it should conform to the Islamic code of dress. It can be of any colour.
- Wearing the Ihraam garments does not mean that you are in the state of Ihraam. The state of Ihraam means to be in a state of ritual consecration. This is normally done at the meqaat.
- A pilgrim is in the state of Ihraam ONLY once the niyah (intention) has been uttered. A person in the state of Ihraam is called a Muhrim.
There are some prohibitions while you are in the state of Ihraam:
- Men must not wear clothes that are tailored to fit parts of the human body, for example trousers, jackets, shirts – meaning fitted clothes. Though women can wear normal clothes, they must NOT wear gloves or a face cover that has openings for their eyes (nikaab).
- Must not apply perfume, wear perfumed clothes, nor use any perfumed substance (e.g. shampoo, soap, etc.).
- Must not trim his/her nails.
- Must not cut his/her hair.
- Must not marry, give anyone else in marriage, nor propose marriage.
- Must not perform any act likely to arouse sexual passion.
Permissible actions while you are in the state of Ihraam:
- To wear a watch on your wrist or around your neck, a money belt, rings, eyeglasses, sunglasses, a hearing or speech aid.
- To cleanse yourself (bath or a shower) with unscented soap and to wash and gently scratch your head and body, even if hair falls out unintentionally.
- To change one’s Ihraam garments to other Ihraam garments. Removing the Ihraam clothes does not nullify the state of One’s niyah places one in the state of Ihraam and cutting of one’s hair removes one from this state.
- To have shelter over one’s head, whether in a car, under an umbrella, or in a tent or building.
- Men may cover their feet while sleeping, with their Ihraam or blanket (but not their head or face).
- If a pilgrim does not complete his Umrah or Hajj after entering into the state of Ihraam or commits an act that is prohibited (while in the state of Ihraam), then a sacrifice (expiation/dumm) is due upon him.
This is the action of walking between the hills of Safaa and Marwah. It consists of seven laps, starting at Safaa and finishing at Marwah. Sa’ee is only performed after Umrah and also during Hajj. Sa’ee for Hajj is a pillar of Hajj.
This is the word commonly used for the sacrifice or expiation a pilgrim performs for having missed a wajib rite of Hajj. The linguistic meaning of dumm is blood.
This is the action of stoning (pelting) the jamr’at in Mina. There are three jamr’at and seven pebbles are pelted at each during the days of Tashreek in Hajj.
A Touch of History:
Following is a brief of some of the historical aspects of certain landmarks that the pilgrim will come across during Hajj. It is not very comprehensive it is merely to wet your appetite.
Jamr’at and Stoning:
On his way to Mina the Shaytaan tempted him three times to disobey the order. Ibraheem threw seven stones at the Shaytaan each time. (Some narrations of this story say the Shaytaan tempted Ismail the first time; and the second time the Shaytaan tried to persuade Ismail’s mother to try and make her persuade her husband; and the third time he tempted Ibraheem.)
These are the positions where the 3 jamr’at are located today. This is also the reason for the pilgrim stoning 7 pebbles at the jamr’at. Jamrah Al-Aqabah (the big one) is on the left side toward Mina, closest to Makkah; the jamrah Al-Wusta (the middle jamrah) is in the middle of the big and small jamrah (Al-Sughra).
Allah also instructed Ibraheem (may Allah’s peace be upon him) to proclaim to mankind to perform the pilgrimage.
- A woman MUST adopt Ihraam at the meqaat, even though she is menstruating. This applies for Umrah as well as for Hajj.
- A woman can perform all the Hajj rites except Tawaaf and salah while she is menstruating or during post-natal bleeding.
- She MUST complete the Tawaaf-al-Ifadah and Sa’ee for Hajj once her menstruation is completed.
- Menstruating women and post-natal bleeding women may omit the Farewell Tawaaf (Tawaaf-al-Wadaa).
- Menstruating women are not allowed to sit inside a mosque, including the Haram in Makkah and Madinah.
- A pregnant woman can be considered unable to perform Hajj, due to health reasons. However she cannot send (deputize) somebody else to do it on her behalf, as her condition is not permanent.
- There are a few considerations pregnant women should take into account before embarking on this journey. As with everything else, each person knows his or her own strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, the information given below is only a general guide and should not be used as definite rules.
- In the early stages (first 3 months) of pregnancy it is more risky as the rituals of Hajj can be very strenuous.
- In the last stages of pregnancy it can also be risky and uncomfortable apart from the bus journeys being very long.
- Pregnant women should not take any vaccinations, especially for meningitis.
- Pregnant women should take extra care during Tawaaf-al-Ifadah and at the jamr’at as it can be very crowded and there is a lot of pushing. It is advisable to deputise someone to perform the ramy on her behalf.