Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Hajj: Fifth Pillar of Islam

The Month of Hajj: Dhul-Hijjah

The twelfth and last month of the Islamic calendar is the month of the pilgrimage (Hajj), commonly known as ‘Dhul Hijjah’. It is a month full of blessings and as the name indicates, it is in this holy month that we, Muslims perform the Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam. In this blessed month, one must make maximum of acts of worship (Ibaadat), such as: supererogatory (Nafil) prayers (Salaat), Tilawat-ul-Quran, fasting, reciting the Takbir and Tasbih and giving Sadaqaat etc. because there are many blessings and rewards in these works, especially during its first 10 days.

Hadhrat Hafsa (ra) said that there were four things that the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) never missed, and these include:

1. To fast the Day of Ashura (10th of Muharram);
2. To fast from 1st to 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah;
3. To fast three days (13th, 14th and 15th) every month (except the 13th Dhul-Hijjah which is prohibited);
4. To perform before the mandatory Fajr Salaat two cycles of Sunnah prayers (Salaat).

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) demonstrated the virtues of the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah.

The same day of the visibility of the moon, the believer is advised to read the Surah Al-Fatiha, Surah Al-Kaafirun. And after the Salam (after prayer), read twenty-one times the Verse of the Throne (Ayat-ul-Qursi), twenty-one times Surah Al-Ikhlass and twenty-one times the Darood Shariff. Then do your duahs (supplications).

Also, in the month of Hajj (Dhul-Hijjah), there is a great and noble day called “Yaum-ul-Arafah” (Day of Arafat), the ninth day of the month. On this day the pilgrims (Hajees) are in the sacred plain of Arafat, and that day is considered as the climax of Hajj. 

On that day, it is recommended for those who are not performing the pilgrimage to fast and to do many supererogatory prayers (Salaat) and Tasbihs such as the Kalima-Tawhid and other Tasbihs which you know. The Holy Prophet of Islam (pbuh) said that the person who fasts the day that Arafat, Allah (swt) will cleanse him all the sins of the previous year and that of the current year. (Muslim)

The 10th day of Dhul-Hijjah is the festival Eid-ud-Duha which is celebrated by all Muslims around the world and who also perform the Qurbani in commemoration of the sacrifice of Hazrat Ibrahim (as) and his son Ismail (as). It should be recalled that on the day of Eid, whether the Eid-ul-Fitr or Eid-ud-Duha, it is forbidden to fast. It should be noted also that the three days following the Eid-ud-Duha, it is forbidden to fast; that is to say, the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th of Dhul Hijjah, respectively.


Furthermore, we must also practice the “Takbir-e-Tashrik” after the Farz Salaat, from the Salat-ul-Fajr of the 9th day until the Salat-ul-Asr of the 13th day of Dhul-Hijjah, which makes a total of 23 Takbir.

The Takbir-e-Tashrik is read thrice (and in a moderate voice) as follows:

“Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, La Ilaaha Illallah Wallaahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar Wa Lillaahil-Hamd”

Translation: “Allah is Great, Allah is Great, there is no god but Allah, Allah is Great, Allah is Great and to Allah belongs all praise.”


The word ‘Hajj’ means pilgrimage or holy visit. Under the Shariah (Islamic law), it means the annual pilgrimage to Makkah Shariff accomplished by Muslims around the world. It is done in a well-defined circuit (Makkah-MIna-Arafat-Muzdalifah-MIna-Makkah). Hajj as you know is the fifth pillar of Islam. So it is obligatory on every Muslim who has the physical and financial means to accomplish this pilgrimage at least once in his life.

Hajj is a great Ibaadah (act of worship) which includes many points and details, but we shall oversee here in this sermon a brief summary of the key moments which the pilgrims get to live. As a general principle, such a trip is a great time in their religious and spiritual life, which must be carefully prepared. One must prepare himself morally and spiritually for the fulfilment of this great act of worship, one should inquire about the rites of the pilgrimage and document on it etc. until the time of the great departure. For the new converts to Islam and those who for the first time shall perform Hajj or Umrah, there are “Mu’allimuun” (educators) on-site (there) to help them. Throughout the Hajj, the Hajees are immersed in all kinds of acts of worships and duahs according to the programmes especially meant for the Hajj.

Pilgrims from around the world converge on the holy city of Mecca to perform the ‘Umrah’ until the 7th day of Dhul Hijjah to start the Hajj program that lasts until the 10th day. Afterwards, they participate also in the three-day post-Hajj program (11th to 13th day).

On the 7th day they enter the sacred perimeter, bounded by the famous Miqaat by making a special Ghussal (thorough bath), dressing in a state of Ihram, (Ihram: which represent clothes of white seamless fabric which is worn as a uniform in the image of the poor) because in the precincts of the sacred house of Allah, the pilgrim presents himself as a needy person. The same clothing, i.e. the Ihram is required of all Muslims who come from all parts of the world (for the Hajj/Umrah) within the boundaries of the Kaaba.

They begin the Hajj activities around the Holy Kaaba making its circumambulation, called “Tawaaf” in seven rounds (in the opposite direction of a clock). They make a sacred call to the “Maqam-e-Ibrahim” (station of Prophet Ibraham (as)) and there make a special 2-Rakaat Salaat. They drink the holy water of Zamzam (pure and miraculous spring found near the Holy Kaaba). They do the “Sa’i”, which are the seven trips – quick walks – between the hills of Safa and Marwa.

The 8th of Dhul-Hijjah, they start an entire circuit and therefore head to Mina, on the outskirts of Mecca, for a night and special Ibaadat. They then head to the plain of Arafat on the ninth, which is the pillar of Hajj, for special Ibaadat. They then take the road to Muzdalifah, again for special Ibaadat

From Muzdalifah, they return to Mina before returning to the Kaaba in Mecca to shave the head and to accomplish another Tawaaf, ‘Tawaaf-e-Ziyarah’ or ‘Tawaaf-e-Ifada’. They have their head shaved (Halq) or symbolically cut their hair (Taqseer) - It is to be noted that the ladies cut the ends of their hair (the length of a thumb only). They also perform the Qurbani (sacrifice of an animal). The Hajees then change their clothes, that is to say they abandon the Ihram for normal clothes. The Hajj, by definition, will be at that time, completed, on the 10th day of Dhul-Hijjah, the day of Eid-ul-Adha/ Eid-ud-Duha.

But the Hajees will return to Mina to spend three days (called the post-Hajj program, on the 11th, 12th & 13th of Dhul-Hijjah) to accomplish other ‘Ibaadat and the stoning of the three Jamraat (stone pillars symbolizing Satan the accursed one). The fortunate ones (that is to say, those who have the money to travel) may also have the opportunity to visit different places, mosques, and cemeteries around Mecca.

Then, back to Mecca, after a final Tawaaf called ‘Tawaaf-al-Wida’, the pilgrims will leave Mecca to go to visit the tomb of the Seal of the Prophets, Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) in Madina and will spend in general at least eight days (to be enabled to accomplish 40 consecutive Salaat in the “Masjid-e-Nabawi” (Mosque of the Prophet (pbuh)).

To do Salaat or spend time in the “Piece of Paradise”, characterized by the space between the pulpit (minbar) and the tomb of the Prophet (pbuh) which was once his home, located today in the Mosque-of-the-Prophet (pbuh), is a great spiritual moment in the life of the believer.

The fortunate ones shall be able to visit (will do ‘Ziyarat’) the different places, mosques, and cemeteries around Medina.

The time of departure is usually a time of heartbreak for the believer, because it is not easy to leave the blessed city of our beloved and dear Prophet (pbuh).
A person can perform Hajj-badal for a deceased person in his family or any other deceased person, provided he has previously (in the past) already made his own Hajj.


The word “Umrah” in Arabic means: ‘to visit a populated place’; but under Islamic law, it means: the ‘small pilgrimage’ to Mecca.

If on one hand the Hajj is accomplished by following a defined group of places to visit and pray and that also during the period of Hajj which extends from the 7-10 Dhul-Hijjah or even till the 13th of Dhul Hijjah, on the other hand the Umrah – though not mandatory but highly recommended – is done throughout the year, to the Kaaba Shariff in a state of Ihram even outside the specified period prescribed for the Hajj.

The Umrah consists of three major steps, similar to the Hajj, which are:

1) The Tawaf around the Kaaba: the seven circumambulations in the anti-clockwise direction.

2) The Sai’, which is the seven times – hurried walks – to and fro the mounts of Sawfa and Marwa. And also, to drink the Zamzam water.

3) The shaving of the head (Halq) or cutting of hair (Taqsir).

These three acts having been done, the Umrah ends. Thus, the most capable among the pilgrims can perform several Umrah in a day, provided each time they come out of the Miqaat to put their Ihram for a new Umrah

Let us all pray that Insha-Allah, as Allah has promised us, and this will definitely come to realise, the door shall be opened for us for the Hajj, and Insha-Allah, we get the chance to accomplish this fifth pillar of Islam with cheerfulness and humility of heart, in gratitude to Allah.

And Insha-Allah may Allah give courage and patience all the families of the people who died at the Grand Mosque. May Allah grant us also in the Jamaat UI Sahih Al Islam the opportunity to give up our lives in the way of Allah, and receive the eternal pleasure of Allah on this earth and in the hereafter. Insha-Allah, Amine.

-From the Friday Sermon of 18 September 2015 delivered by Imam- Jamaat Ul Sahih Al Islam Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim (aba) of Mauritius.