WASHINGTON, October 11, 2013 — This week, thousands of American Muslims are departing from the United States to travel to Saudi Arabia, where they will perform the Islamic Hajj. The travelers, traditionally called “Hajjis” (‘pilgrims’) will travel to the cities of Medina, where Islam’s Prophet Muhammad is buried, and the Makkah, where the Kaaba is located. According to Islamic beliefs, Hajj is required at least once for each individual who can afford to attend at some point in their lifetimes.
“More than 3 million pilgrims made hajj last year, including 1.7 million people from outside Saudi Arabia. This year the Saudis are issuing fewer hajj visas, although close to 3 million people are expected, including more than 14,500 American pilgrims,” says Religion News Service.
The State Department notes that “The Hajj is the annual pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca), Saudi Arabia, and the largest mass gathering in the world.”
The American Muslims will be joined by Muslim pilgrims from around the world, and will participate in traditional Hajj practices. Aspects of Hajj include walking around the Kaaba seven times in “tawaf”; running between the hills of Safa and Marwa; spending a day in the tent city of Arafat; spending a night outdoors and under the stars in the city of Muzdalifa; and travelling to the city of Mina to throw pebbles at Shaitan (“Satan” in English). Upon completion of the pilgrimage, many Muslims utilize the title of “Al-Hajj” (“The Pilgrim”) with their names, appearing as a prefix similar to “Mr.” or “Dr.”…continue reading at Source: communities.washingtontimes.com