Like every organised religion, Islam has its fundamental pillars which should be fulfilled by all Muslims. These fundamental pillars are five in number, namely:
- The Shahada or Kalimah which is the declaration of belief in the oneness of God.
- 5 daily prayers
- Giving out Zakat i.e. charity
- Fasting in the holy month of Ramadan
Hajj is the only fundamental pillar of Islam which requires the person to travel from one country to another and as a result of which, is based on a precondition. The precondition is that the person who has the intention of performing Hajj pilgrimage should be able to afford the cost of the expenses involved and should also be strong enough to perform the compulsory aspects of the Hajj in the right way. In order to perform the hajj pilgrimage the right way, the pilgrim must do the following:
First and foremost is the preparation stage. The pilgrim has to prepare himself or herself physically and spiritually for the hajj on the 8th of Dhil Hijjah (Islamic calendar). This involves the trimming off the beard and mustache, cutting nails and shaving off unwanted hair on other parts of the body. Men’s hair should also be kept neat at all times.
- The pilgrim is then required to either take a ritual bath or perform wudu for Ihram. The Ihram for men is two pieces of white cloth to be worn around the waist and the upper part of the body. Women are exempt from this mode of dressing and may wear their normal clothes. The required footwear for both sexes is flip-flops. Ihram also involves offering two rakahs of nafl for all Pilgrims.
- The pilgrim should make his or her declaration of intention to perform Hajj after which he should recite the Talbiyah in a loud voice for men and quietly for women. This is a compulsory part of the hajj without which, the hajj will be invalid.
- Proceed to Mina and spend the rest of the 8th Dhil Hijjah there. It is better to perform the prayers of Zhuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha in Mina as well as the fajr prayers of 9th Dhil Hijjah.
- After the fajr prayers of 9 Dhil Hijjah, the pilgrims then head to Arafat and should make efforts to reach Arafat before noon so they may rest, eat and take baths or wudu.
Another compulsory aspect of the hajj pilgrimage is known as Waquf-e-Arafat, which begins at Zuhr and ends at sunset. This time should be spent in prayers, reading the Quran, repenting from sins or other acts of worship. However, Maghrib and Isha prayers should not be performed at Arafat but at Muzdalifah where all pilgrims go when the sun sets. Pilgrims should engage in other acts of worship along the way.
- When you get to Muzdalifah, perform both Maghrib and Isha prayers in congregation. These two prayers should be combined i.e. one adhan and iqamah for both prayers, with Maghrib coming first and the Isha. Upon completion of these prayers, offer supplications to Allah and engage in other acts of worship like reading of the Quran and prepare for the next day.
- Preparation entails resting and picking up pebbles for Rami. 49 pebbles for 3 days and 70 pebbles for 4 days of performing Rami.
- Proceed back to Mina after performing two sunnah rakahs and fajr prayers before sunrise of 10th Dhil Hijjah.
- The first Rami is done on the 10th Dhil Hijjah in Mina by hitting Jamrah Aqabah with seven pebbles. This can be done at any time of the day and at night. Do not stop to make dua after Rami and proceed to where you’re staying, to do the animal sacrifice. Note that this sacrifice may be offered on either the 10th, 11th or 12th of Dhil Hijjah.
- After the sacrifice, men are required to shave their whole head or trim it down to an inch. Women are not allowed to shave their heads in Islam. This should only be done in Mina or anywhere in Haram and only after the animal sacrifice has been made. Doing this lifts all prohibitions laid on the pilgrim after Ihram except private relations between a man and his wife until after Tawaf -e- Ziarat.
- One of the last acts of worship for hajj is the Tawaf-e-Ziarat which like the animal sacrifice may be done on the 10th, 11th or 12 of Dhil Hijjah, but in the prescribed order. Tawaf should always be performed after wudu.
- Sa’ey of Hajj is the next step after the tawaf and it involves walking back and forth between the hills of Safah and Marwah seven times. Pilgrims are to return to Mina for the night after completing the Sa’ey of Hajj.
- The 11th of Dhil Hijjah is usually for Rami, in the afternoon. The pilgrim begins by throwing 7 pebbles at Jamrah Oolah and then praises Allah, offers duas and supplications while facing Qibla.
- The same process is repeated at Jamrah Wustah.
- The last Rami is at Jamrah Aqabah. The pilgrim throws the 7 pebbles at Jamrah Aqaba but this time, the Rami is not followed by either prayers or supplications. The pilgrim may return to his residence after this, to offer duas, supplications or worship/repent in private.
- On the afternoon of 12th Dhil Hijjah, begin by throwing 7 pebbles at Jamrah Oolah and the offer duas and supplications while facing Qiblah.
- Move to Jamrah Wustah and repeat the same process as at Jamrah Oolah. This is a great time to pray for whatever you desire.
- The last rami is at Jamrah Aqabah which only involves throwing the 7 pebbles at the Jamrah. No further supplications or duas should be made after throwing the pebbles.
- This marks the completion of the Hajj and it is obligatory upon pilgrims who will be returning to their countries to perform the last Tawaf called Tawaf i Wida. Finally, pilgrims should always consult with their guides as to the aspects of the Hajj pilgrimage which are imperative (the absence of which invalidates the hajj), those which are obligatory and which if not performed require the payment of a Dam (a penalty), and those which are Sunnah.
We hope you enjoyed this piece. Now you are aware of steps necessary for a successful Hajj, any questions and/or comments are very much welcomed below.