Hajj is the annual ‘major’ pilgrimage that takes place each year in Makkah, Saudia Arabia – the holiest city for Muslims. This five day pilgrimage to Makkah 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 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 takes place in the last month of the Islamic year, Dhul-Hijjah. The rites of Hajj begin on the 8th until the 12th/13th of Dhul-Hijjah. Because the Islamic calendar is lunar and therefore 11 days shorter than a Gregorian year, Hajj falls on different Gregorian dates each year. Whereas 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 increase in Iman and Taqwa, gain closeness to Allah (swt) and wipe away sins, as well as to demonstrate unity and obedience to Allah (swt). The word Hajj means “to intend a journey”, which references both the physical and inward journey the pilgrim takes.
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