Hajj is an Arabic word that means “intend to journey”. We Muslims are well aware of Hajj as the fifth pillar of Islam, making it compulsory by faith for all eligible Muslims. The Hajj is a pilgrimage to Mecca to be performed at least once in a lifetime. The Hajj is performed during the last month of the Islamic calendar (Dhu al Hijja) from the 8th to the 12th Dhu al Hijjah.
[Quran 22:27] “And proclaim that the people shall observe Hajj pilgrimage. They will come to you walking or riding on various exhausted (means of transportation). They will come from the farthest locations.”
The Umrah differs from Hajj in the regards that it is not compulsory by faith. The Umrah, on the other hand, is performed at any other time during the year and comprises similar rituals.
As Muslims, we are aware that performing the Hajj is compulsory but often Muslims are completely unaware of the origin of the Hajj and the rituals of Hajj. This, in particular, becomes a problem when they are blessed with the opportunity to perform the Hajj or Umrah.
[2:125] We have rendered the shrine (the Ka`aba) a focal point for the people, and a safe sanctuary. You may use Abraham’s shrine as a prayer house. We commissioned Abraham and Ismail: “You shall purify My house for those who visit, those who live there, and those who bow and prostrate.”
To give a brief overview of the origin of Hajj, although the rituals were established by Hazrat Muhammad (SAW) the origin of the Hajj is traced to the Prophet Ibrahim (A.S) and his family. When he was ordered to leave his family in the desert, his wife Hajar ran seven times in search of water for her baby between the hills of Safah and Marwah. On return, she saw that the baby was rubbing its heels against the ground and a water fountain sprang in the same spot. The water flows from that spring till this day and is known as Zamzam.
Main Rituals of the Hajj
The main rituals of the Hajj are as follows:
1). Ihram: In this step, both men and women enter the state of purity for which men dress in plain white sheets to symbolize purity and equality whereas women cover themselves in a niqab with the allowance to keep their face and hands uncovered.
2). Tawaf: The pilgrims walk 7 times around the khana Kabba in a counter-clockwise direction.
3). Al-Safa and Al-Marwah: Similar to Hajar the pilgrims run seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwah.
4). Mount Arafat: The pilgrims make their way to Mount Arafat where Hazrat Muhammad (SAW) delivered his last sermon.
5). Devil Stoning: At Mina, the pilgrim’s fling pebbles/ stones at three walls known as Jamarat. This is a symbolic representation of stoning the devil.
6). Eid Ul Adha and Qurbani: On the tenth day the festival of Eid Ul Adha begins in which Muslims sacrifice an animal and complete their Hajj.
Also Read: The Rituals of Hajj – Hajj Pilgrimage
Similarly, there are a number of other aspects, preparations, and prohibitions that Muslims may be unaware of. The very thought of performing a hajj may be daunting due to this ignorance. To our advantage, however, we have an extensive source of material available at our disposal for understanding all aspects of Islam. People usually pick up a few books in advance when planning on performing a Hajj or Umrah. Such books provide complete guidance over the act of Hajj/umrah.
My recommendation would be to pick up a few books a few weeks or months prior and study them extensively. A personal favorite publisher of mine is Darussalam. They are well known in KSA and internationally as publishers of Islamic books. They are different from other publishers in the sense that they take extra steps to ensure that all their content is authentic and free from mistakes which put the reader’s mind at ease and allows them to trust the material being read.
Darussalam store is the official website for Darussalam that contains their catalog online. They offer a separate collection of books on Hajj and Umrah. Some of them are “Getting the Best out of Al-Hajj”, “Ultimate Guide to Umrah” and “History of Madinah Munawwarah”. In case you or a relative are intending on performing an Umrah or Hajj in the future, it would be ideal to browse through their entire collection and pick a book that interests you. There is no need to fear or be intimidated by Hajj/ Umrah when we have so much guidance and help available.
Their book collection doesn’t end with books on Hajj and Umrah and in fact, they offer Quran, Tafseer, Hadiths, and books on topics like family, women, Islamic Faith, science etc. All of their publications are in accordance with the Quran and Sunnah and are free from sectarian material. They also adhere to strict printing and quality standards that set them apart from other publishers.