InshaAllah what follows is a brief description of the major rites and rituals of Hajj. We have decided to just give an overview and not delve too deeply into the fiqh of the various obligations in order not to cause too much confusion. Again, one should always seek the advice from a qualified scholar for questions regarding the fiqh of Hajj.
Three types of Hajj
This is when a pilgrim does not perform Umra before Hajj but intends only to perform Hajj. Such a person is called a Mufrid
This is when a pilgrim performs Umra before Hajj and then removes his Ihram. He then adopts his Ihram on the first day of Hajj. Such a person is called a Tamattu. (In Arabic Tamattu means to take advantage of a facility and this reflects the fact that the pilgrim can remove his ihram in the intervening period between Umra and Hajj).
This is the combination of Umra and Hajj in the month of Hajj. The pilgrim adopts the Ihram and remains in Ihram throughout until all the obligations of Hajj have been fulfilled. Such a person is called a Qarin.
The most common and popular way is Hajj-e-Tamattu and this is what we’ll concentrate on.
To help explain the rituals involved with Hajj we’ll use an example of a fictional Brother from California and travel with him as he sets on his journey for Hajj. Let’s call him Brother A
Now Br A is performing Tamattu which means he will perform his Umra first and later he will perform his Hajj.
First up then is the…..Guide to Umra
So there we are with Br A in sunny California. The first major point that needs to be covered is the adoption of Ihram.
Makkah is a city which has boundary known as the Miqat. One cannot enter into Makkah without being in the *state* of Ihram.
For Br A this means he must adopt his two sheets of clothing, declare his intention for Umra and recite the Talbiya *on or before* reaching the Miqat.
Most flights into Saudi land at Jeddah which is inside the Miqat. Hence, one must be in the state of Ihram either before one boards the plane or on the plane itself before the Miqat is reached. This is an important point which always catches a few people out.
Having successfully landed in Jeddah we follow Br A as he travels from there to Makkah. Br A has just faced a long queue at the airport and his patience with immigration officials has already been tested but his resolve is firm in allowing nothing to come in between him and the completion of an accepted Hajj.
Whilst on the way to Makkah he recites the Talbiya:
“Here I am, O Allah, Here I am! Here I am, there is no one who is your partner, Here I am! Surely, all praise and blessings are Yours, and dominion. You are without companion”
He remembers he is answering the call of Ibrahim (as) when Allah asked him to make the call for Hajj:
“And proclaim the Pilgrimage among men: they will come to thee on foot and (mounted) on every kind of camel lean on account of journeys through deep and distant mountain highways; “
Ibrahim (as) called and now Br A has travelled from California in response to that call.
Upon reaching Makkah he makes his way to Al Masjid al Haram [The Sacred Mosque] wherein is the Kabah rebuilt by Ibrahim(as) and his son Ishmael(as)
He performs his Tawaf which is the seven times circumambulation of the Kaba and prays two rakat nafl behind Maqam-e-Ibrahim [The Station of Abraham] after he has finished.
Feeling slightly fatigued owing to the enormity of the crowds he welcomes the Zam Zam water which he now drinks and remembers how the well came into existence.
Thereafter Br A moves to Safa and begins his “Sai” between the two hills of Safa and Marwa in a reminder of the day that Hajira(as) “struggled” to find water for her beloved baby son.
And Allah says:
“Behold! Safa and Marwa are among the symbols of Allah. So if those who visit the House (of Allah) in the season, or at other times, should encompass these hills, and if anyone obeys his own impulse to do good, be sure that Allah is He who appreciates and knows”
With Sai complete, Br A cuts his hair and then walks back to his hotel having completed his Umra.
Next up…. Hajj
Upon the 8th of Dhul-Hijja Br A adopts his Ihram once more but now makes the intention for Hajj and leaves Makkah to spend the day and night in Mina.
It is a day to reflect and contemplate on the momentous day which lies ahead tomorrow, namely the day of Arafat.
After Fajr in Mina on the 9th of Dhul-Hijja, Br A makes his way along with millions of other pilgrims to a plain known as Arafat. It is there after Zuhr that he supplicates to his Lord and begs his Creator for forgiveness in full knowledge that Allah has descended to the lowest Heaven and is watchful of his slaves.
Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said,
‘When the day of Arafah comes Allah descends to the lowest heaven and praises them to the angels saying,“Look at my servants who have come to Me disheveled, dusty and crying out from every deep valley. I call you to witness that I have forgiven them.”
The angels say, “My Lord, so and so was suspected of sin, also so and so and such and such a woman.”
He said that Allah Who is Great and Glorious, replied, “I have forgiven them.”
Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “on day have more people been set free from Hell than on the day of Arafah.”
Arafat is Hajj. If one has not gone to Arafat, the duty of Hajj has not been fulfilled.
After a day of begging one’s Lord, Br A leaves Arafat after sunset and prays Maghrib and Isha at Muzdalifah and spends the night there. If possible he also collects pebbles which he will use to throw at the Jamarat in Mina in the days to come.
After praying Fajr in Muzdalifah on the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah, Br A makes his way back to Mina to throw seven pebbles at Jamrat-ul-Aqaba. He then offers his sacrifice and shaves his head. With these rituals complete, he can now remove his Ihram.
There is now only one more obligatory duty to perform for Br A’s Hajj to be complete. This is Tawaf-e-Ziyara or Tawaf-al-Ifadah
He proceeds from Mina to Makkah to complete this Tawaf and Sai and returns to Mina.
Days 4 & 5
Br A spends the remaining days in completing the stoning rituals on the 11th & 12th of Dhul-Hijjah which involves all three pillars as opposed to just the one on the 10th.
With this complete, Br A leaves Mina before sunset on the 12th of Dhul-Hijjah and returns to Makkah. He knows that if he stays after sunset he has to stay one more night in Mina and throw pebbles for one more day.
With that Br A’s Hajj is complete and if accepted his reward is none other but Paradise
After Hajj, there is only one more obligation to fulfil. This is the farewell Tawaf [Tawaf-e-Wada]
All pilgrims have to perform this before departing Makkah. Br A performs it knowing he may never return to this blessed place.
Upon completion he leaves Masjid al Haram and prepares to make the journey back home.
A Visit to Madina al-Munawwarah
Visiting Madina is not an obligatory act for either Hajj or Umrah, but there is great value in visiting Masjid-ul-Nabi (the Prophet’s Mosque). Rasulallah has said, on the authority of Jabir RA in the collection of Ahmad:
“One prayer in this mosque of mine is better than 1,000 prayers offered anywhere else except the Sacred Mosque, and one prayer in the Sacred Mosque is better than a hundred thousand prayers in any other mosque.”
With such benefits, it is highly recommended to visit Masjid-ul-Nabi if one can do so. Arrangements to visit Madina including hotels and transportation are usually included in almost every tour package for Hajj or Umrah. If not, arranging transportation from Makkah to Medina and vice versa is relatively straightforward and readily available.
Given the benefits of acts of worship in Masjid-ul-Nabi, one should be highly motivated to spend as much time as possible in the Masjid. Unlike Masjid-ul-Haram, one should be aware that Masjid-ul-Nabi is not open for the entire day and night. It is closed for several hours between Isha and Fajr, though it is opened well before the actual Fajr time. During Hajj and Ramadan, the Masjid is open for longer hours.
As one walks towards Masjid-ul-Nabi, there would be perhaps further benefit if he or she makes a reflection similar to Muhammad al-Ghazali’s, who states in his work, ‘Inner Dimensions of Worship’:
On reaching the Mosque, you should recall that this is the site selected by God, Glorified is He, for His Prophet, on him be peace, and for the first and most virtuous of the Muslims. Remember that the laws decreed by God, Glorified is He, were first observed at this spot, and that the best of God’s creatures, living or dead, have gathered here. Be most hopeful, therefore, that God, Glorified is He, will mercifully bless your entrance, and make that entrance in all humility and veneration. How worthy is this place to inspire humility in the heart of every believer!?
Masjid-ul-Nabi, like Masjid-ul-Haram, is deeply rooted in spiritual significance and our spiritual history. As one nears closer towards the head of the masjid and the mihrab, one will come across the area, known as Rawdah. Rasulallah has said, on the authority of Abu Hurairah, in the collection of Bukhari:
“The space between my house and my pulpit is (rawdah) one of the gardens of Paradise, and my pulpit is at my Fountain.”
There is an excellence to the prayers made in Rawdah. Rawdah is demarcated in Masjid-ul-Nabi by markings on the columns as well as a different color in the carpet. (Many of these columns also have historical significance and are named after incidents which occurred there).
Be aware that Rawdah is always full and it is difficult at times to find a spot to make salah there. Only attempt to pray there in the way Allah loves and facilitates for you. Like in Masjid-al-Haram, do not infringe on the rights of your brother or sister and remember that there is an excellence to prayers in all of Masjid-ul-Nabi. While visiting Masjid-ul-Nabi, it is recommended to visit the Prophet’s Grave. The Prophet’s Grave is located just adjacent to Rawdah on the left and forward if one is facing the qiblah. There are specific hours in the day allotted for sisters to visit the grave and Rawdah.
On visiting the Grave, do so with the etiquette and adab of our pious predecessors, within the limits defined for us. One will first come across the grave of Rasullalah , then to the grave of Abu Bakr RA to the right, and then to Umar RA further to the right, making greetings to all.
During a visit to Madina, one is encouraged to also visit Jannat-ul-Baqi, which is the graveyard near the Masjid, a close walking distance away, where many of the Sahaba RA and the Prophet’s wives and family are buried. Al-Baqi is not open all the time, but it is opened after Fajr.
Visiting Uhud is also commendable as the martyrs of Uhud are buried there. The other place encouraged to visit in Madina is Masjid al-Quba. This was the first masjid built by Rasulallah as he entered in Madina following the Hijrah, and is mentioned in the Qur’an:
Verily, the Masjid whose foundation was laid from the first day on Taqwa is more worthy that you stand therein (to pray). In it are men who love to clean and purify themselves. And Allah loves those who make themselves clean and pure. (At-Tawbah: 108)
Rasulallah has said regarding Masjid Qubaa, in the collections of Ahmad, Nasa’I, Ibn Majah and al-Hakim:
“Whoever makes ablutions at home and then goes and prays in the Mosque of Quba, he will have a reward like that of an ‘Umrah.”
Visiting Uhud and Qubaa will require arranging some transportation. Most tour groups make accommodations for the visit. However, if not, there is plenty of available transportation near Masjid-ul-Nabi to take you to those places.