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Ken Chitwood go not occupational for, consult, very own shares in or receive resources from any agency or organization that would advantage from this article, and has expose no pertinent affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Pilgrims pull on in white garments. Al Jazeera English, CC BY-NC

Pilgrims wear plain, white garments. Men drape seamless, unstitched clothing and women dress in level white dresses and also headscarves. The idea behind dressing just is come mask any differences in wealth and also status.


The pilgrimage is taken into consideration the fifth pillar the Islamic practice (the other 4 being the profession of faith, five daily prayers, charity and also the quick of Ramadan). In call Muslims to do the hajj, the Quran says,

“Proclaim to males the pilgrimage: they will pertained to thee top top foot and also on every skinny camel, coming from every remote path.”

The rites that the hajj are believed to retrace events from the lives of influential prophets such together Ibrahim and Ismail.

The an initial day that the hajj

Pilgrims start by circling the “Holy Kaaba,” the black, cube-shaped residence of God (at the facility of the many sacred mosque in Mecca), 7 times.

The Kaaba occupies a central place in the stays of Muslims. In all components of the world, Muslims room expected to turn toward the Kaaba when performing their daily prayers.

Specific rules concerning going roughly the Kaaba space prescribed because that pilgrims. Lock may also kiss, touch or approach the Kaaba during the pilgrimage as a sign of their respect and also continued devotion.

The Quran speak the story of Ibrahim’s sacrifice, who when commanded through God, agreed come sacrifice his son, Ismail. Muslims think the Kaaba holds the black rock upon which Ibrahim was dubbed to sacrifice Ismail.

In performing the rituals, they join in a long line that pilgrims come Mecca – consisting of Prophet Muhammad – that circled the Kaaba.

Pilgrims then proceed to a ritual walking – about 100 meters from the Kaaba – to hills well-known as “Safa” and also “Marwah.” below they re-create another significant event videotaped in the Quran: when Ibrahim was granted a child by God through his Egyptian slave girl Hajar. ~ the birth of Ismail, God instructed Ibrahim to take Hajar and also her newborn child out right into the desert and also leave them there. Ibrahim left them close to the present-day place of the Kaaba. Ismail cried out with thirst and Hajar ran between two hills, searching for water until she turned to God for help.

God bonus Hajar for she patience and also sent his point of view Jibreel to expose a spring, which this particular day is well-known as “Zamzam Well.” Pilgrims drink water from the sacred well and may take it some home for blessings.

The 2nd day that the hajj


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Pilgrims praying ~ above Arafat. Al Jazeera English, CC BY-SA

The hajj “climaxes” v a sojourn into the plains of Arafat near Mecca. There, pilgrims conference in tents, invest time with one another and also perform prayers. Some pilgrims will certainly ascend a hill known as the “Mount the Mercy,” where Prophet Muhammad yielded the taking leave sermon toward the end of his life.

They then proceed to an open plain near Mecca, regularly a highlight of the journey for plenty of pilgrims. Muslims think that the soul of God come closer to earth in this ar at the moment of the pilgrimage.

As a scholar of an international Islam, throughout my field I have interviewed those who have gone on the hajj. Castle have described to me their personal experiences.

Many pilgrims, as soon as standing in the levels of Arafat, feeling a near communion through God.

Final three days

Afterwards, pilgrims move to Mina, additionally known together the tent City, about five kilometers native the divine city the Mecca. Here, castle reenact another part of the story that Ibrahim’s check of confidence in the sacrifice the his son.

They recall exactly how Satan tried to tempt Ibrahim to disobey God’s contact to sacrifice Ismail. Ibrahim, however, stayed unmoved and also informed Ismail, who was ready to it is in sacrificed. To reenact Ibrahim’s rebuff the Satan’s temptation, pilgrims throw little stones in ~ a stone pillar.

They then proceed to follow Ibrahim in the action of sacrifice. The Quran says just as Ibrahim check to death his son, God intervened and a ram was sacrificed in place of Ismail. In remembrance, Muslims everywhere the civilization sacrifice an animal on this day. The “festival the the sacrifice” is known as Eid al-Adha.


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Pilgrims stoning the devil in Mina. Al Jazeera English, CC BY-SA

Many pilgrims invest the next few days repeating the stoning at Mina (at least six an ext times) and also going around the divine Kaaba in Mecca (at least once more). Pilgrims additionally start to placed on your everyday clothing to show a shift to their worldly life.

It is believed that a ideal performance of the hajj deserve to absolve Muslim pilgrims of any type of previous sins. However, Muslims additionally believe that simply undertaking the pilgrimage is not enough: it is as much as God to referee the pilgrimage as agree or not.

Creating one Muslim community

The hajj is a massive organizational job for the Saudi authorities. Issues concerning crowd management, security, traffic and also tensions constantly afflict the successful organization of the yearly event. A deadly stampede in 2015 left over 700 dead.

There are other continuous tensions as well: some Shia federal governments such together Iran, for example, have leveled charges alleging discrimination by Sunni Saudi authorities. Furthermore, this year, citizens of Qatar were not able to perform the hajj following the decision through Saudi Arabia and also three various other Arab countries to severe diplomatic ties v the country.

To attend to such issues, many Muslims have called for the company of the Islamic collaboration (OIC), one intergovernmental organization, to put together an international, multi-partisan committee to organize the pilgrimage.

Perhaps the could assist avoid local or sectarian conflicts. The hajj, after all, is any type of individual Muslim’s solitary most symbolic ritual act that shows the right of unity.

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By request Muslims to don the same clothes, pray in the exact same spaces and perform the same rituals, the hajj creates a an international Muslim community, through no class distinctions.