SHAFAQNA -Â Tragedy struck the holy pilgrimage of Muslims â€˜Meccaâ€™ on Saturday after 107 were killed and more than 300 were injured in a fatal accident.
The pilgrimage is the ultimate destination of Muslims around the world. Therefore, in the article we will tell you all about Mecca and Hajj.
Once a year, Muslims of every community gather in Mecca to pay homage to their holy one. The occasion can be observed as a ritual that is designed to promote the bonds of Islamic brotherhood and sisterhood.
The pilgrimage in itself shows that everybody rich or poor, healthy or sick is equal in the eyes of god.
In the journey, pilgrims wear simple white clothes called Ihram and perform acts of worship as they renew their sense of purpose in the world.
No non-Muslims are allowed to enter the holy area.
For Muslims, the Hajj is the fifth and finalÂ pillar of Islam. It occurs in the month of Dhul Hijjah which is the twelfth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It is the journey that every sane adult Muslim must undertake at least once in their lives if they can afford it and are physically able.
The place is set to be Four thousand years old when it was dry and uninhabited.
As the story goes, ProphetÂ IbrahimÂ (Abraham) was instructed by Allah to bring his wife, Hajira (Hagar) and their child Is’mail to Arabia from Palestine to protect them from the jealousy of Ibrahim’s first wife Sarah.
Then, Allah asked Prophet Ibrahim to leave them on their own. He left them but after few days they were suffering from hunger and dehydration.
However, the mother was helped by the son who struck his foot on the ground and this caused a spring of water to gush forth from the earth.
They were finally saved and started trading water with passing nomads for food and supplies.
On return, Prophet Ibrahim was astonished to see his family running a profitable well. Then Allah dictated Prophet Ibrahim to build a shrine dedicated to him. The same was done by Ibrahim and Is’mail and was named-Â the Kaaba or Cube.
Soon it became a gathering place for all who wished to strengthen their faith in Allah.
After many centuries, Mecca became a thriving city thanks to its reliable water source, the well of Zam Zam.
Gradually, the shrine of the Prophet Ibrahim was used to store idols but later it was turned into an â€˜Allah worship place onlyâ€™ after God dictated Prophet MuhammedÂ to restore the Kaaba for Allah only.
How to travel?
Travel light and take only essentials. Once in Mecca there are two rituals which you can perform; the lesser pilgrimage or Umra, and the main pilgrimage or Hajj.
Umra is not once-in-a-lifetime Hajj but only optional, however, Hajj is a lifetime opportunity.
If someone combines the Hajj with the Umra, it is called aÂ Hajji-Tamattu.
To carry out the pilgrimage rituals you need to be in a state ofIhram, which is a special state of ritual purity.
The person on the Hajj may not:
- Engage in marital relations
- Shave or cut their nails
- Use cologne or scented oils
- Kill or hunt anything
- Fight or argue.
- Women must not cover their faces, even if they would do so in their home country.
- Men may not wear clothes with stitching.
- Bathing is allowed.
The journey begins from a place just outside Mecca called the Miqat, or entry station to the Hajj. There you take a shower, put on the Ihram (special white clothes), make the intention for Umra and begin reciting the Talbiya Du’a (prayer).
Next you perform Tawaf i.e. go to the Masjid al Haram and walk around the Ka’ba seven times repeating du’as and prayers. Then you should sip some Zam Zam water from the well and later go to the walkway between the hills of Safa and Marwa and walk back and forth between them seven times.
This completes the Umra journey. Now make your intention for the Hajj and put on the Ihram garments again.
Travel to Mina on the 8th of Dhul Hijjah (a date in the Islamic calendar) and remain there until Fajr (dawn) next morning.
Next travel to the valley of Arafat from where you travel to Muzdalifa for the night. Gather together 49 or 70 small stones together to use the next day.
Now, you have to return to Mina and throw the stones at pillars called Jamraat which represent the devil. Later, aÂ Qurbani (sacrifice) should be made in which a lamb or sheep is slaughtered and the meat distributed among the poor. After this, men’s heads are shaved and women cut a lock of their hair.
Finally return to Mecca and make aÂ Tawaf again and go back to Mina for 3 or 4 days.
Finally do a farewell Tawaf in Masjid-al Haram on the twelfth day of the month of Dhul Hijjah, ask Allah’s forgiveness, makedu’a and the Hajj is finished.
Many people then go to the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, but this is optional.