Hajj is the ‘major’ Islamic pilgrimage that takes place each year. This five day pilgrimage to Mecca sees two to three million Muslims take part every year.
As one of the five pillars of Islam Hajj is an obligatory religious duty for able-bodied Muslims. They are expected to complete it at least once in their lifetime providing they have the financial means to do so.
Hajj is one of the two Islamic pilgrimages that can be performed. The other is Umrah, which also known as the ‘lesser pilgrimage’ because it is not a mandatory religious duty like Hajj.
Hajj takes place in the last month of the Islamic calendar, known as Dhu al-Hijjah. Because the Islamic calendar is lunar, and therefore 11 days shorter than a Gregorian year, Hajj falls on different Gregorian dates each year. These dates are the 8th to the 12th or 13th of Dhu al-Hijjah.
On the other hand, Umrah has no fixed dates and can be performed at any time, either on its own or in conjunction with Hajj.
The purpose of performing Hajj for the pilgrim is to deepen faith and wipe away sins, as well as to demonstrate unity and obedience to Allah. The word Hajj means “to intend a journey”, which references both the physical and inward journey the pilgrim takes.
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