Pilgrimage (Hajj)

Rules and Regulations of Hajj

Hajj or the pilgrimage is the fifth pillar of Islam which has got a historical background. Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), the spiritual leader of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (and forefather of Prophet Moses, Jesus and Muhammad) built Ka’abah (House of God) at Makkah, with assistance of his elder son Prophet Ismael some eighteen hundred years before Christ. He was commanded by Allah to purify the House and proclaim Pilgrimage unto mankind that “they will come unto you on foot and on every lean camel…… from every deep ravine.” (Al-Qur’an 22:27) Thus the people started visiting the Holy Ka’abah for performing the pilgrimage. However, with the passage of time the rituals and practices connected with pilgrimage were corrupted. Ka’abah became the place filled with so many idols and people started circumambulating it in a naked state. The Prophet of Islam conquered Makkah in the year 8 A.H. (corresponding to 630 A.D.), cleansed Ka’abah of the idols and restored its original position as the old shrine devoted to worship of one God. The original spirit of the pilgrimage (Hajj) was also restored and the pilgrimage became compulsory for a Muslim as a fundamental article of faith in the year 9 A.H. (631 A.D.). The Prophet performed pilgrimage himself in the year 10 A.H. that is some months before his death. This is known as the Farewell Pilgrimage. The sermon delivered by the Prophet in the plain of Arafat is known as the Farewell Sermon. It presents gist of the teachings of Islam and is rightly regarded Islam’s charter of fundamental rights and civil liberties. The Farewell Pilgrimage performed by the Prophet and the rules and procedure of Hajj laid down by him is a goodly pattern for his followers all over the world for all times.

Both the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet have stressed the importance of Pilgrimage, its place in religion, its merits and excellence, and its virtues and rewards. The performance of Hajj once in life is obligatory for a believer who has attained maturity, is sane, is free, and is physically able to undertake the journey and financially able to afford its expenses. Those who fulfil these conditions and on whom Hajj becomes obligatory but they do not perform it, are great sinners.

The pilgrimage comprises performance of certain acts and rituals such as wearing of special dress, walking seven times around the Kaabah, kissing the Black Stone in the corner of Kaabah, running between the hillocks of Safa and Marwah, drinking of water of Zamzam, visit to stay at Mina and Arafat, throwing stones at the Satan and to sacrifice animals at Mina on 10th of Zilhajj. These acts are performed at the Kaabah and in the valley of Mina and Arafat near Makkah. Pilgrimage is performed during the month of Zilhajj which is the last month of Islamic calendar. Majority of the believers also go to Madinah to visit the tomb of the Prophet and to offer prayers in the Mosque of the Prophet. During the days of the Hajj, the pilgrims devote almost all of their time in reading the Qur’an, in offering the prayers, in visiting holy places in addition to performance of ceremonies connected with the Hajj. The pilgrimage is an all-embracing worship which combines in itself all the virtues of physical devotions such as prayer and fasting and monetary devotions such as Zakat and Sadaqat.

Rites of Hajj which are imperative in nature (fard) are three, namely: wearing of Ihram (Pilgrim’s garment); halting at Arafat, and performing Tawaf-e-Ziarah (visiting of Ka’abah for making seven circuits around it). If any of this is missed or ignored, pilgrimage would be invalid. Less imperative (wajib) rites include stay for night at Muzdalifah, throwing stones at Jamrahs (statues of satan), to shave or cut the hairs of the head, to offer animal sacrifice, to make Tawaf at the time of leaving Makkah, to run between Safa and Marwa.

The procedure of Hajj as briefly described by the jurists in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah is briefly stated as under:

The pilgrims should put on the pilgrim’ garment (Ihram) as soon as they reach a miqat, one of the fixed points on all the roads to Makkah. After this they should abide by the code prescribed for Hajj. If on reaching Makkah, a pilgrim wishes to perform ‘Umrah, he might then put off Ihram and release himself from restrictions imposed by it up to the 7th of Zul-Hajjah. On the 8th, he should again put on Ihram at Makkah and go to Mina, a valley six miles from there. On the 9th he should proceed to the valley of ‘Arafat which is about five miles further from Mina and stay there to the evening. Then he should return to Mash’ar-i-Haram (Muzdalifah) which is midway between ‘Arafat and Mina and pass the night between 9th and the 10th there in prayer, meditation and devotion. On the morning of the 10th, he should come back to Mina and should throw stones at a statue of Satan and then offer animal sacrifice there. After this he should cut the hairs of his head and put off the Ihram and go to Makkah and perform Tawwaf-i-Ziarat. Then he should return to Mina and stay there for two or three days. The three days (from the 11th to the 13th of Zul-Hijjah) are called the days of “Tashriq.” During the days of Tashriq he should thrice throw stones at all the three statues of Satan. After this he would return to Makkah and would perform farewell tawaf of Kaabah. His Hajj is complete and he is now free to go home.

Festival of Eid-ul-Azah is celebrated by the followers of Islam on 10th of Zil-Hijjah every year and those who cannot join their brothers at Minah, Makkah, offer their animal-sacrifices wherever they live in the world.

Millions of Muslims perform pilgrimage every year. It is an international congress of the Muslims which gathers brothers-in-faith from all over the world who in pilgrims’ garments simultaneously perform ceremonies of the Hajj in alike manner and converse with each other on equal footing without any discriminations. Thus the pilgrimage has become a universal manifestation of Islamic brotherhood and equality. It is indeed an important unifying agent for Islam, serving the cause of unity and strengthening the bonds of fellowship among the Muslims.

Now let us describe Umrah in brief and also the subjects relating to Hajj such as Kaabah, Tawaf, Saai, animal sacrifice, etc.


Umrah means a visit to Ka’abah. It is shorter Hajj and unlike Hajj it is not compulsory even once in life. Although performance of Umrah is optional but still it attracts countless believers from all over the world throughout the year (except during the months of Hajj) because of the fact that it brings many rewards and blessings to the pilgrims. According to the Prophet of Islam, Umrah is an expiation for the sins committed between it and another Umrah, while Umrah performed during Ramadhan is equal to one pilgrimage in reward.

The person intending to perform Umrah is required to put on Ihram (pilgrim’s garment) from the Miqat after taking purification bath. When he reaches Ka’abah he shall make Tawaf of the house. After completing Tawaf he would offer two rak’ats of prayer at Maqam-e-Ibrahim and drink water of Zamzam. Then he would make Sa’ai between the hillocks of as-Safa and al-Marwah. After completing Sa’ai he would cut or shave the hairs of his head and then put off Ihram. Thus his Umrah is complete.


The Ka’abah at Makkah is the house of God and is held in very high reverence by the followers of Islam. The Qur’an calls it’ ancient house’ (Baitul Atiq) and tells us that it is the first place of worship of God built for mankind. From pre-historic days it was a place of pilgrimage visited by many people who came from every corner of Arabia. According to a tradition, Ka’abah is said to exist since Adam (the first man and also the first Prophet of God) as a prototype of the ‘Frequented House’ (Baitul Mamur) in Heaven.

Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) rebuilt it more than 1800 years before Christ with the assistance of his son Prophet Ismael on the ruins of the old house. Allah directed Abraham and Ismael to sanctify His House for those who circumambulate around it or use it as a retreat or bow or prostrate themselves therein in prayer.

The Ka’abah is the place of worship of One God, Allah. It is also the direction to which the believers all over the world turn their faces during prayer. It is a place of security and peace as war is prohibited within its precincts. It is centre of Hajj and Umrah as Tawaf (circumambulation) around it is an integral part of these devotional acts. Near it are the hillocks of Safa and Marwah, the Sa’ai (running in between) of which is also essential for performing Hajj and Umrah.

The Ka’aba is a small rectangular building of nearly fifty feet in height which stands in the centre of an open space like a parallelogram surrounded now by an all round building known Masjid Al-Haram (sometime all the place including Ka’abah is called as such). Maqam Ibrahim and Ab-i-Zamzam building also lie within the premises of Masjid Al-Haram and near Ka’abah. In one corner of it the Black Stone (Hajr-e-Aswad) is fixed which is to be kissed during Tawaf.

Tawaf (circumambulation)

Both in Hajj as well as in Umrah, the pilgrims are required to walk seven times around Ka’abah and seven times between hillocks of As-Safa and Al-Marwah. These are called Tawaf and Sa’ai respectively.

Tawaf occupies the most important place in the devotional acts of Hajj as it is the first one which is performed when a pilgrim arrives at makkah and the last one when he leaves it. The former is called Tawaf-al-Qudum (the Tawaf of arrival) and the latter is called Tawaf-al-Wada (the Tawaf of departure). Tawaf-e-Ziarat is another Tawaf which is one of the major three essential acts of Hajj and is preformed when the pilgrim is staying at Mina during 10th and 12th of Zil-Hajja. During the first three rounds of Tawaf, the pilgrim runs at mild speed and it is called ‘Raml’, while during the last four rounds he walks in a normal way. Tawaf starts from Hajr-e-Aswad and ends at it and the Hajr-e-Aswad (the Black Stone) is kissed at the end of each round. In case of sick and physically disabled persons, the Tawaf can be performed on conveyance. At the end of Tawaf two Rak’ats Nafl prayer is offered at Maqam-e-Ibrahim and then Ab-i-Zamzam is taken to heart’s full

Sa’ai (Running)

After Tawaf, a pilgrim shall run seven times between the hillocks of As-Safa and Al-Marwah to perform Sa’ai which starts from the former after prayer and ends at the latter followed by shaving or cutting the hairs of the head to remove Ihram (pilgrim’s garment). Hajirah, the wife of Prophet Abraham, when left with her infant child (Ismael) in the desert of Makkah, ran between the two hills in search of water for her thirsty son. To her astonishment, she found a spring near the feet of the child which saved them from death through thirst. This spring even exists to date and is known as Zamzam because Hajirah asked the water to stop as she feared it may not flood the valley. It is in commemoration of Hajirah’s running that Sa’ai between the hillocks of As-Safa and Al-Marwah has been made as an obligatory ritual of Hajj and Umrah.

The women walk in normal pace during all the seven rounds of Tawaf and Sa’ai. They are prohibited to perform Tawaf and Sa’ai during menses.

Animal Sacrifice

The followers of Islam offer sacrifice every year during the days from 10th to 12th of Zil-Hijjah, which is the last month of Lunar Calendar of Hijrah, by slaughtering animals such as camels, cattle, goats and sheep. Those who have gone to Makkah for pilgrimage offer the sacrifice at Mina. It is in the memory of the offer of the great sacrifice by Prophet Abraham of his son Prophet Ismael. Though the sacrifice of the son by the father actually did not take place but the way the father and the son surrendered to the will of God was very pleasing to the Almighty Who ransomed Ismael with the tremendous sacrifice (of a ram which Abraham subsequently found near Ismael and slaughtered it). According to a scholar, this great event not only fulfilled the vision of Prophet Abraham but also marked the end of human sacrifice by the Simitic race.

The days of sacrifice are celebrated as festival of Eid-ul-Azha and a special prayer in the morning of 10th of Al-Hijjah is offered before sacrifice which attracts large gatherings of the believers. Sacrifice is obligatory only on those believers who can financially afford it being owner of assets at the level which makes one liable to pay Zakat. Sacrifice of a goat or sheep is counted one sacrifice whereas sacrifice of a camel or a cow is counted as seven. The age of the camel should not be less than 5 years, cow not less than 2 years, goat not less than one year and sheep not less than 6 months. The animals should be healthy and without any serious defect in ear, leg, horn or in any other limb.

Verses of Qur’an about Hajj

Kindly refer to the following verses of the Qur’an:- 2:158; 2:196-200; 2:203; 3:97; 5:1; 5:95-96; 22:27-29; 22:34; 22:36-37; 108:2.


Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PUBH) about Hajj

1)     Abu Hurairah reported: The Messenger of Allah delivered us sermon and said: O men! Pilgrimage has been made obligatory on you. So make pilgrimage. A man enquired: O Apostle of Allah! Is it in every year? He remained silent till he (the man) repeated it thrice. Then he said: If I would have said ‘Yes’, it would have surely become obligatory and you would have had no option. Afterwards he said: Leave me till I leave you, because those who were before you were destroyed on account of their frequent questions and their disagreement with their prophets. So when I bid you anything, do it if you are able; and when I forbid you anything leave it.   (Muslim)

2)     Abu Hurairah reported that the Apostle of Allah was asked: Which of the actions is best? He replied: Faith in Allah and His Apostle. He was questioned: What is next? He said: Jihad in the way of Allah. He was questioned: What is next? He replied: An accepted pilgrimage.   ((Bukhari, Muslim)

3)     Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Whoso makes pilgrimage for Allah without talking immodestly and doing anything foul returns as on a day on which his mother gave birth to him.   (Bukhari, Muslim)

4)     Ibn Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: No man shall remain alone with a woman, nor shall a woman make a journey except with a relative within the prohibited degrees. A man asked: O Messenger of Allah! I have been enrolled for such and such a battle, but my wife intends to go out to make the pilgrimage. He said: Go, then make pilgrimage with your wife.   (Bukhari, Muslim)

5)     Abu Sayeed-al-Khodri reported: We came out with the Apostle of Allah for pilgrimage crying “Labbaik” loudly.   (Muslim)  

6)     Zaid-b-Sabet reported that he saw the Prophet preparing for his Ihram and taking bath.   (Tirmizi, Darimi)

7)     Ali reported that the Messenger of Allah said: If any one has got provision and conveyance to take him to the House of Allah but does not make pilgrimage, there is no difference whether he dies a Jew or a Christian, and that is because Allah, the Blessed and the High, says: And for Allah due from men, there is the pilgrimage of the House for one who has got means of journeying to it.   (Tirmizi (Rare)

8)     Ibn Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah fixed Zul-Halifah for the inhabitants of Madinah, and Hujfah for the Syrians and Qarn Manazel for the people of Najd, and Yalamlam for the people of Yemen (as place for wearing Ihram). So these are for them and for those who come through them without being their inhabitants – for those who wish to make pilgrimage and Umrah; whoever lives nearer (Makkah), his Ihram is from his residence. (The case is) such and such and such; even the people of Makkah shall make Ihram from it (Makkah).   (Bukhari, Muslim)

9)     Ibn Omar reported: I heard the Apostle of Allah say: When you meet one who has made pilgrimage, greet him, shake hands with him and tell him to ask forgiveness for you before he enters his house, for he has been forgiven.   (Ahmad)

10)  Ibn Masud reported that the Apostle of Allah said: Make Hajj and Umrah follow one after another, because they both remove poverty and sins, just as a hammer removes rusts of iron, gold and silver; and there is no reward for an accepted pilgrimage except Paradise.   (Tirmizi, Nisai, Ahmad and Ibn Majah)

11)  Ibn Omar reported that a man came to the Prophet and asked: O Apostle of Allah! What makes the pilgrimage compulsory? He replied: Means and conveyance.   (Tirmizi, Ibn Majah)

12)  Abu Razin-al Oqaili reported that he came to the Prophet and asked: O Messenger of Allah! My father is an old man unable to perform pilgrimage and visit the House and ride on. He said: Make pilgrimage for your father, and visit the House.   (Abu Daud, Nisai, Tirmizi (Approved, correct)

13)  Abu Hurairah reported from the Prophet who said: He who makes Hajj and he who makes Umrah are guests of Allah. If they invoke Him, He responds to them; and if they beg forgiveness of Him, He forgives them.   (Ibn Majah)

14)  Ayesha reported: I asked: O Messenger of Allah! Is there any Jihad for woman? ‘Yes’ replied he, ‘there is for them Jihad wherein there is no fighting-Hajj and Umrah’.   (Ibn Majah)

15)  Ayesha reported: We came out with the Prophet. We did not talk except about Hajj. When we came to Saraf, I perceived menstruation. The Prophet came while I was weeping. He said: Perhaps you are menstruating. ‘Yes’, replied I. He said: That is a thing which Allah ordained for the daughters of Adam. So do what a pilgrim does without going round the House till you become pure.   (Bukhari, Muslim)

16)  Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: One Umrah is an expiation for the sins committed between it and another Umrah and an accepted pilgrimage has got no reward except Paradise.   (Bukhari, Muslim)

17)  Ibn Abbas reported that the Apostle of Allah said: Umrah during Ramazan is equal to one Pilgrimage (in reward).   (Bukhari, Muslim)

18)  Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah made Umrah for four times, each being in Zul-Qa’dah except that (Umrah) which was joined with Hajj. The Umrah from Hudaibiyah was in Zul-Qa’dah, the Umrah in the following year was in Zul-Qa’dah, the Umrah from Jeeranah was where the booties of Hunain were divided in Zul-Qa’dah and the Umrah was with his Hajj.   (Bukhari, Muslim)

19)  Abu Hurairah reported: I heard the Prophet say: The guests of Allah are three – the Gazi, the pilgrim and the observer of Umrah.   (Nisai, Baihaqi)

20)  Ibn Omar reported: When the Apostle of Allah performed circumbulation during Hajj and Umrah, the first thing which proceeded was that he ran three rounds and walked four and then made two prostrations. Afterwards he went round Safa and Marwah.   (Bukhari, Muslim)

21)  Ibn Omar reported that the Apostle of Allah ran thrice from the Stone to the Stone and walked four times, and he ran down the bottom of Masil when he went round Safa and Marwah.   (Muslim)

22)  A’bes-b-Rabiah reported: I saw Omar kissing the Stone and saying: Verily I know that thou art but a mere stone having no power of doing any benefit and injury. Had I not seen the Prophet to kiss (thee), I would not have kissed thee.   (Bukhari, Muslim)

23)  Ibn Omar reported that the Prophet stayed at Madinah for ten years and used to make sacrifice.   (Tirmizi)

24)  Zaid-b-Arqam reported that the companions of the Prophet asked: O Messenger of Allah! What is this sacrifice? He said: The way of your fore-father Abraham (P.H.). They said: What is for us therein, O Messenger of Allah? He said: There is one reward for every hair. They asked: for wool, O Messenger of Allah? He said: There is one reward for every strand of wool.   (Ahmad, Ibn Majah)

25)  Ja’ber reported that the Messenger of Allah said: A cow serves for seven and one she-camel for seven.   (Muslim, Abu Daud)

26)  Bara’a-b-Ajeb reported that the Apostle of Allah was asked: What should be given up from the sacrificial animal? He pointed out with his hand and said: Four (animals): the lame animal whose lameness is open, the blind animal whose blindness is open, the diseased animal whose disease is open, and the lean animal which has no marrow.   (Malek, Ahmad, Tirmizi, Abu Daud, Nisai, Ibn Majah)

27)  Mujashe from Banu Solaim reported that the Apostle of Allah used to say: Verily a lamb of more than six months is sufficient for what a year old goat is sufficient.   (Abu Daud, Nisai, Ibn Majah)


Copyright (c) Dr. Muhammad Sharif Chaudhry. All rights reserved. For more information, please contact at alshaufi(at)yahoo(dot)com