What Is Haj ?
What is Hajj? Hajj also spelled as Haj is one of the pillars of Islam that is performed at particular place at particular time of the year. It is a set of rituals that spreads over five days and are performed at Makkah, Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah. Every Muslim having enough strength and wealth is expected to perform Hajj at least once in his lifetime.
Islam is based on five deeds, Kalima, Prayer, Fasting, Zakath and Haj. Kalima is the belief in Allah and his Prophet(s.a.w).sal that Allah is the only one God and Prophet Muhammad(s.a.w) is his messenger. Prayer is offering Salaat five times a day at particular time period. Fasting is observing fasting for 30 days in the month of Ramzan. Zakath is giving alms to the poor in which a particular percentage of the possessions of money, gold, silver and cattle wealth should be given to the poor every year. Finally comes Hajj which is to be performed at least once in the lifetime.
When all the four deeds could be done at any place, Hajj could be performed only at the place meant for that deed. Hajj starts with entering into Ihram, wearing special dress. When a person is in Ihram he is forbidden from doing certain things like killing animals, having sex, removing hair, etc. Hajj ends with Tawaf Ziyarah.
Every pious Muslim wants to perform hajj but it is a must only for those who are capable of doing it since it demands more money, more energy and more mental power. So, it is better to perform Hajj at one’s young age.
There are basically three types of Hajj namely Hajj-e-Tammatu, Hajj-e-Kiraan and Hajj-e-Ifrad. The difference does not lies in the ways of doing Haj but in the ways of wearing Ihram. Wearing separate Ihram for Haj and Umrah is called Hajj-e-Tammatu, wearing the same Ihram for Haj and Umrah is called Hajj-e-Kiraan and wearing Ihram only for Haj is called Hajj-e-Ifrad. Though the first type of Hajj is popular among people, the third type is considered to be the best rewarding. However Hajj E Qiraan requires great mental power as one needs to be in the state of Ihram for a long period of time. But in Hajj-e-Tammatu, one should be in Ihram hardly for four days.
When the days of Hajj starts, people have to wear Ihram, the seamless white dress for men and the normal dress for ladies. Covering the face at that time is prohibited both for men and women and covering head for men is also forbidden. That is why the pictures of Hajj show men in white dress with open heads.
Those who perform Hajj are called Haji or Haaji. Hajis start their Hajj by going to Mina. They stay in Mina for a day and then should go to Arafat the next morning after Fazr prayer. Then the time of Hajj starts at noon. Asking Dua or praying god to give all goodness is the main deed at Arafat. After Mahrib prayer time, Hajis should leave the place to Muzdalifah without praying Mahrib. Muzdalifah is located approximately 8 km from Arafat and buses ply between these regions. After reaching Muzdalifah, they should pray both Mahrib and Isha prayers.
After spending the night at Muzdalifah, they should leave to Mina to throw stones at Satan. This should be done before noon. Stoning of Satan continues for three days. In the meantime, the Hajjis should head over to Makkah and finish their Tawaf Ziyara. Once it is completed they are out of Ihram and could lead normal life.
In real sense during the days of Hajj, the Hajjis relive the life of Prophet Ibrahim and his son Prophet Ismail. Allah was happy of their sacrifice and so he has destined all Hajis to relive certain moments of their life in order to show his love for his Prophet.
After completing Haj, people stay in Mecca for few days and then go to Madina. Madina is the place where Prophet Mohamed.sal lived in his later part of life and where he died and was buried. Though visiting his burial ground is not a part of Hajj, people go there to offer their salam to Prophet.sal before they return home.