1 Aug 2019,
More than two million are expected to arrive in the desert kingdom for one of the most important rites of passage for followers of Islam.
This year the five-day holy pilgrimage lasts from Friday, August 9, until Wednesday, August 14 and is the world’s largest single gathering of people.
Hajj takes place from the 8th to the 12th of Dhu al-Hijja, the final and the holiest month in the Islamic calendar.
When they arrive Muslims are given special clothes called Ihram to wear, which are simple, white garments that are supposed to make Muslims appear equal – regardless of wealth or status – before Allah.
PILGRIM’S PROGRESS What is Hajj?
HAJJ is the fifth pillar of Islam which involves men and women making a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Muslims are supposed to make the journey at least once in their lifetime.
The pillar is obligatory for both men and women as long as they are physically fit or financially able to do so.
It is considered to be the ultimate form of worship to Allah as it involves both physical and financial sacrifice.
Hajj represents all Muslims being equal before Allah, as pilgrims are given the same outfit to wear and take part in the same rituals.
The pilgrimage is a demonstration of the solidarity of Muslims and their submission to God.
The word “Hajj” means “to intend a journey”, which represents the physical distance Muslims travel, but also internal battles overcome.
Sex, smoking, swearing and disagreements are among the things banned during the pilgrimage.
Once in Mecca, Muslims perform the Tawaf, which is when they move counter-clockwise seven times around the Kaaba, a small shrine in the centre of the Grand Mosque.
The tradition dates back to the prophet Ibrahim – known as Abraham to Jews and Christians – who built Kaaba at Islam’s most sacred Mosque.
Pilgrims then walk or run between the mountains of Safa and Marwah seven times, which represents when Ibrahim’s wife Hagar did the same when searching for water.
On the second day of Hajj, Muslims head to Mount Arafat to stand in vigil, which is the location where Prophet Muhammad is said to have given his last sermon.
At the start of the Eid al-Adha feast, Muslims then take part in stoning ceremonies, where they toss pebbles at walls to represent the symbolic “stoning of the devil”.
Sheep are also slaughtered to give meat to the needy, and men and women trim their hair.
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