Hajj

The fifth Pillar of Islam is the pilgrimage to Makkah and its surroundings known as Hajj. All Muslims are obligated to make Hajj once in their lifetimes if they can afford it and are otherwise able to do so.

The Hajj is made from the eighth to the twelfth of the Islamic month of Dhul-Hijjah. Muslims travel from all over the world to perform Hajj. The rituals are themselves simple, but the amount of walking necessary, the hot climate, and the crowds make the Hajj a rigorous exercise in faith. To perform the Hajj, pilgrims enter a state of consecration known as ihram. In this state they may not clip their nails, cut or pluck any hair etc. Male pilgrims wear special clothes consisting of two seamless strips of cloth, one covering the back and shoulders, the other covering from the waist to the knees. Female pilgrims can wear ordinary clothing that covers everything but the face and hands.

Upon arriving in Makkah, the pilgrims first circumambulate the Kabah seven times in a ritual known as Tawaf. This ritual reminds the pilgrims that Allah should be the focus and center of their lives.The next ritual is Sa`ee, which is walking back and forth seven times between the hillocks named Safa and Marwah. On Dhul-Hijjah 8, pilgrims head to Mina, where they spend the day supplicating Allah. Early the next morning they go to `Arafah (or `Arafat). They spend the day supplicating Allah and begging for His forgiveness. Many stand on the Mount of Mercy to supplicate, though this is not necessaryAfter sunset the pilgrims move on to Muzdalifah, where they spend the night and collect pebbles to be used in the next ritual.