The Hajj

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Introduce the concept that some journeys and places are considered sacred by people of a particular faith

Each year, millions of Muslims make a pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia. The pilgrimage is called the ‘Hajj’. The Hajj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The main purpose of the pilgrimage is to ask for Allah’s forgiveness. Muslims believe that, if they undertake the journey sincerely and with good intention, Allah will forgive them for their wrongdoings.

Essential facts

  • The Hajj takes place in the Muslim month of Dhul Hijjah, the last month of the Muslim calendar. It is not possible to give an equivalent month in the Western calendar because the Muslim calendar is lunar and therefore shorter. This means that the Hajj falls at a different time each year.
  • The city of Makkah is considered to be sacred because it was the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
  • The route of the Hajj takes pilgrims to various sacred sites in and around Makkah. Pilgrims begin by walking seven times around the Ka’bah, the sacred, cube-shaped building at the heart of Makkah’s main mosque. They believe that it was built by the Prophet Ibrahim and his son, Isma’il, at Allah’s command. Muslims feel a great sense of Allah’s blessing when they are near the Ka’bah.
  • Afterwards, pilgrims sip water from the well of Zamzam, then walk seven times between two small hills. Then they travel to Mina and onto the plain of Arafat, where the Prophet Muhammad preached his last sermon. Here they stand in silence and praise Allah. The next day, they go to a place called Muzdalifah, halfway between Arafat and Mina. Before day break, they then travel back to Mina and throw stones at three pillars, which represent the devil. Back in Makkah, they circle the Ka’bah again and say prayers.
  • During the Hajj, pilgrims dress in simple, plain white clothes called ‘ihram’. All men dress identically, in seamless long white robes, while women wear plain white dresses with scarves. These clothes symbolise that everyone is equal in Allah’s eyes.
  • A man who has completed the Hajj is called a ‘Hajji’. A woman who has completed the Hajj is called a ‘Hajjah’.
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