THE PILGRIMAGE to the holy city of Mecca for the Hajj begins shortly for millions of Muslims, as they convene in the holiest place in Islam in Saudi Arabia. Here is everything you need to know about the annual pilgrimage.
Hajj begins on Sunday, August 19 and ends in the evening of Friday, August 24.
The pilgrimage is mandatory for all Muslims to complete at least once in their life if they can afford to go and are able bodied.
The Hajj pilgrimage is performed in the last month of the Islamic calendar – Dhul-Hijjah.
The purpose of the pilgrimage is to get closer to Allah and Muslims from all over the world have the opportunity to interact with each other.
Muslims flood to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the five-day pilgrimage.
Mecca is where Muhammad, the prophet who founded Islam, was born and where he received the first revelation of the Koran.
Pilgrims visit the Grand Mosque to praise Allah before the Ka’aba – Islam’s most sacred building.
Hajj is one of the fifth and final pillar of Islam.
During the pilgrimage, pilgrims wear simple white clothes called Ihram.
One aspect of Hajj is that it removes all markers of class, wealth and materialism, which is why everyone dresses in simple cloth for the duration of the pilgrimage.
Hajj begins on the 8th day of Dhul-Hijjah, this is followed by the Day of Arafah and Eid al-Adha on the 10th day – Islam’s holiest festival and the day of Tashriq.
Muslims on Hajj are forbidden from having sex, proposing marriage, cutting their hair or nails and killing animals.
They believe that the Prophet Abraham built the Ka’aba with his son Ismael, which is at the centre of the Al-Masjid al-Haram mosque in Mecca.
Muslims walk around the Kaaba seven times as part of the Hajj pilgrimage.
Muslims face to pray in the direction of the Ka’aba no matter where they are in the world.
To be completed, the Hajj requires a minimum of five days during which pilgrims travel across Saudi Arabia to complete various rituals.
Each year around two million Muslims flock to the Holy city for the pilgrimage.
According to the Saudi Arabian Embassy, the Hajj is the largest gathering of human beings on the Earth.
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