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What is Hajj?

Hajj is a sacred pilgrimage that is required of every Muslim at least once in their lifetime – it is one of the fifth pillars of Islam. Each year, millions of Muslims from across the world travel to and perform Hajj in Makkah, modern day Saudi Arabia.

It takes place during the same time each year, in the sacred month of Dhul Hijjah – the twelfth month in the Islamic Calendar. Hajj begins on the 8th of Dhul Hijjah and lasts approximately five to six days depending on the sighting of the moon. When the new crescent moon is sighted, Muslims around the world welcome in the four-day festival of Eid al-Adha.

Find out when Hajj is here.

Muslims are commanded by Allah (SWT) to fulfil the sacred pilgrimage of Hajj as relayed in the Holy Qur’an:

“You will enter the Sacred Masjid, God willing, perfectly secure, and you will cut your hair or shorten it (as you fulfil the pilgrimage rituals) there. You will not have any fear. Since He knew what you did not know, He has coupled this with an immediate victory.” 

Qur’an | 48:27

While Hajj is required of every Muslim, it is only required so long as they have the capacity. There are conditions which make Muslims eligible to perform Hajj and exempt from performing Hajj. 

What Is Hajj In Islam?

The sacred pilgrimage of Hajj is comprised of a series of rites and rituals – some in order – that provide a spiritual, emotional, and physical challenge for the pilgrim. For example, a pilgrim can expect to walk between 5km-15km per day, as Hajj requires some travel between several locations in and around the vicinity of Makkah. Much of the pilgrimage takes place at the Masjid al-Haram, where the Kaaba is located.

Hajj is a spiritual duty and a pillar of Islam, and for many, it is a once in a lifetime event. Going more than once during your lifetime is permitted whilst sincerely seeking Allah’s (SWT) (which means ‘The Most Glorified, The Most High) pleasure.

As the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

“Whoever performs Hajj for the sake of Allah and does not utter any obscene speech or do any evil deed, will go back (free of sin) as his mother bore him.”

What Happens On Hajj?

Muslims who perform the sacred pilgrimage of Hajj are required to undergo a series of rites and rituals which each offer their own unique purpose and wisdom.

Here are the 18 steps of Hajj at a glance:

The 18 Steps Of Hajj At A Glance:

  1. Preparation and Intention
  2. Enter state of Ihram
  3. Tawaf x7
  4. Safa and Marwa
  5. Clip/Shave Hair (Umrah ends)
  6. Resting and Praying
  7. Enter state of Ihram
  8. Arrive at Mina
  9. Day of ‘Arafah
  10. Muzdalifah (under the night sky)
  11. Rami (stoning of the devil)
  12. Qurbani
  13. Shave Head
  14. Tawaf al-Ifadha
  15. Rami (stoning of the devil)
  16. Spend night at Mina
  17. Rami (stoning of the devil)
  18. Farewell Tawaf al-Wida

Click here to view our step-by-step guide to performing Hajj, including everything you need to know about how to perform this incredible journey. You can also download our easy-to-follow Hajj guide here.

Why Do Muslims Go On Hajj?

Hajj is one of the fifth pillars of Islam, meaning it is obliged of every Muslim.

Here are the Five Pillars Of Islam:

  1. Profession of Faith (Shahada). The belief and declaration that “There is no diety worthy of worship except Allah, and Muhammad (‎ﷺ) is the final Prophet sent by Allah.”
  2. Prayer (Salah)
  3. Alms (Zakat)
  4. Fasting (Sawm)
  5. Pilgrimage (Hajj)

Unlike prayer, Alms and Fasting, Hajj is required of every Muslim only once during their lifetime, so long as they are physically, emotionally, and financially eligible. However, Muslims are permitted to go more than once if they have the means.

The Hajj pilgrimage is a test of patience and temperament, and can be spiritually, emotionally, and physically challenging. However the sanctity of this occasion provides an experience and opportunity like no other for drawing closer to Allah (SWT), and many Muslims around the world strive their whole lives for the opportunity to perform Hajj.

Learn more about the essentials of Hajj here.

How Many Muslims Go On Hajj?

Each year, millions of Muslims from all across the world travel by land, sea and air to Makkah, Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj. Approximately 2-3 million people attend Hajj each year.

Here is how many people have attended Hajj in previous years:

1999: Over 1.8 Million

2009: Over 2.3 Million

2012: Over 3.1 Million

How Do You Prepare For Hajj?

While Hajj is first and foremost a spiritual duty, it is also very physically demanding and preparing for Hajj is greatly encouraged for Muslims around the world.

As pilgrims walk on average between 5km-15km per day, it is encouraged for Muslims to physically prepare for Hajj weeks in advance, so that the travel that is required between locations across the five-six-day pilgrimage is not a shock to the system. Being physically prepared provides an aide to the emotionally and spiritually demanding aspects of Hajj.

Read our step-by-step guide to performing Hajj, including everything you need to know about how to prepare for it here.

Difference Between Hajj And Umrah

Hajj and Umrah are both sacred pilgrimages in Islam and share many of the same qualities, rites, and rituals. However, there are some main differences, one of the biggest being that Hajj is a fifth pillar of Islam and required of every Muslim so long as they have the capacity, whereas Umrah is a voluntary pilgrimage.

Here are some more differences between Hajj and Umrah:

  • Hajj can only take place between the 8th and 12th or 13th of Dhul Hijjah each year, whereas Umrah can be performed at any time of the year.
  • Hajj lasts approximately five to six days (depending on the sighting of the crescent moon), whereas Umrah can be performed within a much shorter period – even a day!
  • There are 18 steps to perform in Hajj, whereas there are far fewer in Umrah.

Learn more about the facts of Hajj here.

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We ensure our content is reviewed and verified by qualified scholars to provide you with the most accurate information. This webpage was last reviewed by Sheikh Saalim Al-Azhari.

Page last reviewed: 14 July 2022


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