Ḥajj (Arabic: الحجّ) is an act of worship and one of the most significant sacraments in Islam, which consists of a pilgrimage to Mecca to perform special rituals. In addition to the worshiping side, hajj has social, economic, and political aspects. The largest gathering of Muslims happens once a year, from the eighth to the twelfth day of Dhu l-Hijja, the 12th month of the Hijri Calendar. Adherents of all Islamic sects gather in Mecca during hajj. Undertaking the hajj at least once is a duty for Muslims who are physically and financially able to make the journey.
Hajj starts with ihram, by putting on a special cloth in special places called "miqat". After ihram, the pilgrim is not allowed to do certain actions; however, the pilgrim must carry out other activities known as rites of hajj (manasik al-hajj). These rites involve staying in 'Arafat, staying in al-Mash'ar al-Haram, going to Mina, ramy al-jamarat (stoning the pillars), sa'y between al-Safa and al-Marwa, tawaf al-nisa' and its prayer, tawaf al-ziyara and its prayer, and sacrifice.
Etymology and Terminology
The Arabic word "hajj" or "hijj" literally means a proof, demonstration, or an intention of doing something important. In Islamic scripts and sources, including jurisprudential books, hajj is embarking on a journey to Ka'ba to perform special rites during a specific time. According to faqihs (jurists) hajj is a set of actions performed in certain places in Mecca. The set of the acts of worship performed during hajj is called "manasik al-hajj" (the rites of hajj). The word "manasik" (plural form of mansak) means the place or time of an act of worship, worshiping, or the place of slaughtering (the sacrifices in hajj). However, it is used for all the rites that a pilgrim performs in Mecca.
In the Qur'an
The Qur'an talks about hajj in various verses, in which hajj is described as the duty of capable people, an Islamic sacrament and also deserving to be honored and respected. According to the verse 27 of Sura al-Hajj (22), God ordered the Prophet Ibrahim (a) to inform people about hajj.
The Qur'an defines hajj as an act of worship that has a specific time, which is known by sighting the new moon crescent -the sign of the new month in the Islamic calendar. The Qur'an clearly indicates that there are specific months to perform hajj. Thus, Islam voided the prevalent tradition of postponing or advancing the months of hajj during the Ignorance Era.
There are several verses about the rites of hajj, the jurisprudential and ethical rulings of it, including the legislation of tamattu' for non-residents of Mecca; staying in al-Mash'ar al-Haram and 'Arafat and its rites; the rulings of slaughtering sacrifices in Mina; the rulings of hunting during hajj; compulsion of performing tawaf and sa'y between al-Safa and al-Marwa; permission to buy and sell during hajj and some disliked (makruh) or forbidden (haram) acts during hajj such as arguing, engaging in sexual activities; and some wrong traditions from the Ignorance Era.
More than 9150 hadiths about the importance and the rulings of hajj only in Wasa'il al-Shi'a and Mustadrak al-wasa'il indicate the significance and the abundance and complexity of the rulings of hajj.
According to hadiths, hajj is better than fasting, jihad and even every acts of worship except prayer. There are countless secrets and benefits in the rites of hajj. Imam al-Sadiq (a) said, "The performer of hajj and the performer of 'umra are God's guests; if they ask Him, He bestows, if they call Him, He replies, if they intercede with Him, Allah accepts their intercession, and if they remain silent, He begins (to bestow upon) them (his blessings) …". In another hadith, he said, "When people are settled in Mina, a herald calls on behalf of Allah that if you sought My satisfaction, I am satisfied."
Either not performing or postponing hajj is dispraised in hadiths and said to have unfortunate consequences in this world and the hereafter. Hajj is very important that based on hadiths if people left it or could not financially afford it, the Islamic governor is obliged to send some people to hajj or aid them financially to perform it from the public treasury (bayt al-mal).
Wisdom in Legislation
There are several hadiths explaining the philosophy of the legislation of hajj. In various cases, Imam Ali (a) mentioned some of them, such as humility of Muslims before the greatness and the glory of God, deliverance from arrogance, endurance of hardships, closeness among Muslims and to God and His mercy.
Imam al-Sadiq (a) mentioned these philosophies for hajj: gathering Muslims from all over the world, letting Muslims get to know each other, having various commercial advantages, and learning the Prophet's hadiths and teachings.
Imam al-Rida (a) counted these things: being Allah's guest, deliverance from all sins, preventing the body from the desires and whims, leaving callousness and hopelessness, fulfilling the need of people, having a financial advantage, and getting to know Islam and its teachings.
There are three types of hajj:
Hajj al-tamattu' is the duty of people who live 16 or 12 leagues (based on a disagreement in this regard) or further from Mecca. Hajj al-qiran and ifrad are the duty of the residents of Mecca and those who live within that distance.
- Main article: Manasik al-Hajj
The practices and rites of hajj (manasik al-hajj), according to their sequence, are as follows:
- Staying in 'Arafat
- Staying in al-Mash'ar al-Haram (Muzdalifa)
- Staying in Mina over the night of 11th, 12th, and -for some people- 13th of Dhu l-Hijja in where everyone has to perform the following practices: ramy al-Jamarat; slaughtering a sacrifice: this practice is wajib (compulsory) only in hajj al-tamattu' and mustahab (recommended) in hajj al-qiran and al-ifrad; halq (shaving the head) or taqsir (cutting a wisp of hair or clipping nails)
- Tawaf al-ziyara
- Paryer of tawaf al-ziyara
- Sa'y between al-Safa and al-Marwa (walking and running seven times between two hills, al-Safa and al-Marwa)
- Tawaf al-nisa'
- Prayer of tawaf al-nisa'
Manners and Rulings
Wajib: Daily Prayers • Essentials of Prayer • Friday Prayer • Eid Prayer • Al-Ayat Prayer • Funeral Prayer• Istijari Prayer
Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam and every Muslim must perform it at least once during their lifetime if they can do it. This hajj is called "hajjat al-Islam".
Hajj is an immediate compulsion, which means it must be performed in the first season of hajj after a person becomes mustati' (capable) of performing hajj. Postponing hajj without an acceptable excuse is one of the great sins.
In addition to hajjat al-Isalm, hajj can become compulsory by vow (nadhr), promise ('ahd), oath (qasam), and being hired to perform hajj on behalf of someone else. Without these things performing hajj is mustahab (recommended), as well as performing it every year or taking the members of the family to hajj.
If performing hajj in its specific time requires some preparations, it is compulsory (wajib) to have them done in time.
Conditions of Compulsion
Hajj is compulsory for every sane adult Muslim who is physically and financially capable (mustati') of undertaking the journey. Based on this, it is not mandatory for mentally ill people, children, and whoever is not capable of performing it. That is, if they perform hajj it will not be counted as their hajjat al-Islam. However, the majority of Shi'a faqihs (jurists) say that if a child reaches puberty and a mentally disabled person heals before "staying in al-Mash'ar" their hajj will be counted as hajjat al-Islam.
A person who has the needed money to perform hajj but also has debts in the same amount is not obliged to perform it.
Borrowing money to perform hajj is not compulsory. However, if someone donates the money for hajj, it will become compulsory if other conditions are met as well. It should be noted that some say accepting the donation is not compulsory.
If someone does not perform hajj after it had become mandetory, he has to do it even if he loses the condition of wujub (compulsion) of hajj, and if he could not perform that during his lifetime, it is compulsory for his heirs to perform hajj on his behalf and its expenses must be paid from his property.
It is recommended for everyone who does not have the condition for al-hajj al-wajib to perform hajj. Also, those who have completed their hajj before are advised to do it again. Leaving hajj for more than five years is disliked for those who are able to perform it. Performing hajj on behalf of other people -alive or dead- especially the infallible Imams (a) is recommended.
the Prophet (s) and the Imams (a) mentioned pieces of advice about the etiquettes of the spiritual journey to Mecca. For instance, repenting from sins, being ashamed enough to prevent one's self from committing sins, being patient enough to surpass one's anger, being kind towards the companions, being generous, avoiding bargaining, speaking righteously during the journey, avoiding pointless talks, and feeding the poor.
Conditions of Validity
Being Muslim and mu'min, doing the rites of hajj in person and directly, performing hajj in the specified months, and having permission from the husband (only for women) for mustahab hajjs are the conditions of a valid hajj. Those who want to complete hajj al-tamattu' must perform its 'umra in hajj months; otherwise, it will not suffice. Likewise, ihram for 'umrat al-tamattu' or hajj is not valid after the 10th of Dhu l-Hijja. Even according to faqihs (jurists) who believe that all of Dhu l-Hijja is a time of hajj.
According to the majority of Shi'a faqihs, if a Muslim from other sects converts to Shi'a and has already performed his hajjat al-Islam, he does not have to redo his hajj according to Shi'a rulings. Nevertheless, repeating hajj, in this case, is mustahab (recommended).
One who can (physically) perform hajj on his own is not allowed to hire another person to perform a compulsory hajj on his behalf.
Recommended Practices During Rites
There are etiquettes and recommended actions for each rite of hajj. Mustahab acts have been mentioned for ihram, entering Masjid al-Haram, tawaf, prayers of tawaf, sa'y between Safa and Marwa, staying in 'Arafat, staying in al-Mash'ar al-Haram, ramy al-Jamarat, sacrificing, Mina and the city of Mecca.
Practices Recommended after Finishing Rites
- Returning to Mecca from Mina for tawaf al-wida' (farewell tawaf)
- Performing six rak'as of Prayer in Masjid al-Khayf during the stay in Mina.
- Stopping by Wadi l-Muhassab (al-Muhassab valley), also known as Abtah, on the way from Mina, on Dhu l-Hijja 13th, and lying on back there.
- Entering Ka'ba barefooted, especially for those performing their first hajj. Before that, a Ghusl is recommended. The person should pray while entering the holy Ka'ba. Then, performing two rak'as between the two pillars on the red stone, and two rak'as in each corner and then reciting the reported supplication, and touching the corners (rukns) of Ka'ba, especially al-Rukn al-Yamani.
- Performing tawaf on behalf of relatives and people of each one's town, then performing tawaf al-wida', touching the four corners of Ka'ba and Mustajar, praying, going to the well of Zamzam and drinking from its water, and reciting the reported supplication while going out of Masjid al-Haram.
- Prostrating (performing sajda) toward Ka'ba and praying before leaving Masjid al-Haram.
- Exiting from Bab al-Hannatin
- Having the intention of coming back again
- [According to some faqihs] Going to the birthplace of the Prophet (s), Lady Khadija's (a) house (i.e., Lady Fatima's (a) birthplace) and ziyara of lady Khadija's at her grave in al-Hajun Cemetery.
- Going to Masjid al-Arqam
- Climbing to the cave of Hira' and the cave of Thawr.
- Main article: Al-Hajj al-Niyabi
Al-hajj al-niyabi is a hajj performed by a person on behalf of another. Hiring someone to perform mustahab hajj on behalf of a dead or alive Muslim is mustahab (recommended). Hiring someone to perform hajj on behalf of a deceased Muslim who has not performed hajj, and their hajj has become firmly fixed is compulsory for the heirs. According to most Shi'a faqihs, hiring someone is also wajib (obligatory) for a Muslim who has permanently lost their physical ability due to aging or an illness. Some faqihs have also issued the same verdict for someone who is financially capable of hiring someone to perform hajj on their behalf, even if hajj is not firmly fixed on them. Moreover, there is disagreement about the compulsion of hiring a na'ib (someone who performs the hajj on behalf of other people), whether the hiring is only wajib for hajjat al-Islam or it is also wajib for a hajj that has become wajib by vow or because one's last hajj has been void.
- Ibn Manzur, Lisan al-'Arab; Jawhari, al-Sihah; al-Zubaydi, Taj al-'arus, under the word "حج"
- Ibn Idris al-Hilli, Al-Sara'ir, vol. 1, p. 506; Al-Muhaqqiq al-Hilli, Risala fi l-hajj, vol. 1, p. 163
- Al-Halabi, Al-Kafi fi l-fiqh, pp. 195, 198, 217; Al-Tusi, Al-Mabsut, vol. 1, p. 309; Al-'Ayni, 'Umdat al-qari, vol. 9, p. 121
- Ibn Manzur, Lisan al-'Arab; Jawhari, al-Sihah; Al-Turayhi, Majma' al-bahrayn, under the word "نسک"
- In it (al-Masjid al-Haram) are manifest signs [and] Abraham’s Station, and whoever enters it shall be secure. And it is the duty of mankind toward Allah to make a pilgrimage to the House —for those who can afford the journey to it— and should anyone renege [on his obligation], Allah is indeed without any need of the creatures. (Qur'an, 3:97)
- That (pervious verses about hajj). And whoever venerates the sacraments of Allah —indeed that arises from the Godwariness of hearts. (Qur'an, 22:32)
- And proclaim the ḥajj to people: they shall come to you on foot and on lean camels coming from distant places, (Quran 22:27)
- They question you concerning the new moons. Say, ‘They are timekeeping signs for the people and [for the sake of] hajj.’... (Qur'an, 2:189)
- The ḥajj [season] is in months well-known; so whoever decides on ḥajj [pilgrimage] therein, [should know that] there is to be no sexual contact, vicious talk, or disputing during the ḥajj. And whatever good you do, Allah knows it. And take provision, for indeed the best provision is Godwariness. So be wary of Me, O you who possess intellects! (Qur'an, 2:197)
- See Qur'an, 9:37
- ... And when you have security —for those who enjoy [release from the restrictions] by virtue of the ʿumrah until the ḥajj (i.e. hajj al-tamattu')— let the offering be such as is feasible. As for someone who cannot afford [the offering], let him fast three days during the ḥajj and seven when you return; that is [a period of] ten complete [days]. That is for someone whose family does not dwell by the Holy Mosque. And be wary of Allah, and know that Allah is severe in retribution. (Qur'an, 2:196)
- There is no sin upon you in seeking your Lord’s grace [during the ḥajj season]. Then when you stream out of ‘Arafāt remember Allah at the Holy Mash‘ar, and remember Him as He has guided you, and earlier you were indeed among the astray. (Qur'an 2: 198)
- Complete the ḥajj and the ʿumrah for Allah’s sake, and if you are prevented, then [make] such [sacrificial] offering as is feasible. And do not shave your heads until the offering reaches its [assigned] place. But should any of you be sick, or have a hurt in his head, let the atonement be by fasting, or charity, or sacrifice. And when you have security —for those who enjoy [release from the restrictions] by virtue of the ʿumrah until the ḥajj— let the offering be such as is feasible. As for someone who cannot afford [the offering], let him fast three days during the ḥajj and seven when you return; that is [a period of] ten complete [days]. That is for someone whose family does not dwell by the Holy Mosque. And be wary of Allah, and know that Allah is severe in retribution. (Qur'an, 2:196)
- O you who have faith! Do not kill any game when you are in ihram. Should any of you kill it intentionally, its atonement, the counterpart from cattle of what he has killed, as judged by two fair men among you, will be an offering brought to the Kaʿba, or an atonement by feeding needy persons, or its equivalent in fasting, that he may taste the untoward consequences of his conduct. Allah has excused what is already past; but should anyone resume, Allah shall take vengeance on him, for Allah is all-mighty, avenger. (95) You are permitted the game of the sea and its food, a provision for you and for the caravans, but you are forbidden the game of the land so long as you remain in ihram, and be wary of Allah toward whom you will be gathered. (Qur'an, 5:95-96)
- Then let them perform their rites, and fulfill their vows, and go around the free house. (Qur'an, 22:29)
- Indeed Safa and Marwa are among Allah’s sacraments. So whoever makes ḥajj to the House, or performs the ʿumrah, there is no sin upon him to circuit between them. Should anyone do good of his own accord, then Allah is indeed appreciative, all-knowing. (Qur'an, 2:158)
- See Qur'an, 2:198
- See Qur'an, 2: 197
- See Qur'an, 2:189
- al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol. 4, p. 253-254
- al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol. 4, p. 255
- al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol. 4, p. 262
- Ibn Khuzayma, Sahih Ibn Khuzayma, vol. 1, p. 159; 'Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, Fath al-bari, vol. 3, p. 285-286; al-Shaykh al-Hurr al-'Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'a, vol. 1, p. 13-20, 26-28
- see: al-Bukhari, Muhammad b. Isma'il. Sahih al-Bukhari, vol. 2, p. 141; Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol. 4, p. 252-264
- Nahj al-balagha, Maxim 136
- see: al-Bukhari, Muhammad b. Isma'il. Sahih al-Bukhari, vol. 2, p. 209; al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol. 7, p. 51-52
- see: Nahj al-balagha, Letter 47; al-Tirmidhi, Muhammad, Sunan al-Tirmidhi, vol. 2, p. 153-154
- see: al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, p. 259-260; al-Shaykh al-Hurr al-'Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'a, vol. 11, p. 23-24
- see: Nahj al-balagha, Sermon. 1, 110, 192; Maxim 252
- al-Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Bihar al-anwar , vol. 29, p. 223
- see al-Shaykh al-Hurr al-'Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'a, vol. 11, p. 14
- al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Muhammad b. 'Ali b. Babawayh, 'Uyun akhbar al-Rida, vol. 2, p. 90
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 18, p. 5-10
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 18, p. 44-47
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 18, p. 136
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 19, p. 114-115
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 17, p. 220-223
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 17, p. 223-225
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 17, p. 217, 228
- Sabziwari, Sayyid 'Abd al-A'la, Muhadhdhab al-ahkam, vol. 12, p. 18
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 17, p. 229, 241, 248,275
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 17, p. 229, 234
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 17, p. 258-259
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 17, p. 260
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 17, p. 261
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 17, p. 268
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 17, p. 295
- see: Tabataba'i Yazdi, Muhammad Kazim, al-'Urwat al-wuthqa, vol. 4, p. 595-596
- Ibn Abi Jumhur, 'Awali l-la'ali, vol. 4, p. 33; qazwini, Muhammad Ma'sum, Kashf al-ghita' , p, 586-588
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 17, p. 332
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 18, p. 12-13
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 17, p. 304
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 17, p. 396
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 17, p. 275
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 20, p. 53
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 20, p. 54
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 20, p. 60-65
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 20, p. 65
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 20, p. 69
- Najafi, Jawahir al-kalam, vol. 17, p. 281-286; Tabataba'i Yazdi, Muhammad Kazim, al-'Urwat al-wuthqa, vol. 4, p. 434-435
Photo from mountainside of the tented areas covering the Plain of Mina, Saudi Arabia.
The picture shows the pilgrims resting in al-Mash'ar al-Haram, which has to be in the open air without any shelter or roof above their head. The photo is taken on October 26, 2012.
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