HAJJ PILGRAMAGE TO MECCA:
Hajj is the Fifth Pillar of Islam. The word Hajj means "to attend a journey", which connotes both the outward act of a journey and the inward act of intentions. It is obligatory on every financially and physically able Muslim to perform Hajj at least once in their lifetime. What makes the journey so important is that it replicates the steps of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) from over 1,400 years ago. It is a Hadith of the Prophet (S.A.W) that: “Hajj wipes out whatever (Sins) came before it.”
The rites performed at Hajj today were established by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) but, the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) based on the Qur’an. Muslims believe that Ibrahim (AS) was ordered by Allah (SWT) to leave his wife Hajar and his son Ismail alone in the desert of ancient Mecca. In search of water, Hajar desperately ran seven times between the two hills of Safa and Marwah but found none. Returning in despair to Ismail, she saw the baby scratching the ground with his leg and a water fountain sprang forth at the site.This is the Well of Zamzam in the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca. Pilgrims visit the well while performing Hajj or the Umrah pilgrimage to drink its water.
The rites of Hajj involves a series of rituals that takes place in and around Mecca and are performed over a period of five or six days, beginning on the 8th and ending on the 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar. As the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar year, the date changes in the Gregorian calendar each year, and is 10 to 11 days earlier than the preceding year. Every year about 2 to 3 million people from across the world gather in Mecca for the Hajj. It is the largest single gathering of people on the planet.
Eid al-Adha, marks the end of the Hajj pilgrimage, it literally means 'festival of the sacrifice' and is one of two Eids, or days of celebration for Muslims .The festival commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim (AS) to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God's command.
There are 3 types of Hajj,
1. Hajj Al- Ifrad - Hajj Only
When a pilgrim performs the rituals of Hajj only, his choice is called Ifrad.
2. Hajj Al- Qiran - Umrah merged with Hajj
When a pilgrim performs the rituals of Hajj with the intention that the rituals of Umrah are merged with their counterparts of Hajj, he is practicing Qiran. Here, the rituals are done one time but with dual-intention (i.e. Hajj and Umrah)
3. Hajj Al-Tammattu - Umrah followed with Hajj
When a pilgrim performs a complete Umrah, takes a break and then, at the time of Hajj, initiates Hajj and does a complete Hajj, then he is practicing Tamatu`.
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