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The Hajj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and a sacred religious rite of passage which should be performed by every able-bodied Muslim. The pilgrimage sees millions of Muslims from around the globe congregate in the holy city of Mecca on the thirteenth day of the last month of the Islamic calendar. During Hajj, pilgrims gather in their hundreds of thousands to perform a series of rites.
These rituals include walking around the Kaaba (the house of God) in the centre of The Great Mosque of Mecca, running between the hills of Safa and Marwah, drinking from the Zamzam Well, standing in observance at Mount Arafat, sleeping in the plain of Muzdalifa and a symbolic stoning of the devil. Read on to discover more about the history and significance of this religious phenomenon.
According to the Quran – the Islamic holy book – parts of the pilgrimage date back to Abraham, but the current system of pilgrimage was founded by the Prophet Muhammad. According to the Quran, Abraham was instructed to build the Kaaba and the ‘Black Stone’ was attached to the building by the Angel Gabriel; brought from heaven and dating back to the time of Adam and Eve.
In 630 CE, Muhammad is said to have led a congregation of followers to Mecca to destroy the pagan idols and declare the building for God. Two years later, Muhammad completed his first and only pilgrimage which is the same pilgrimage that Muslims perform today.
The religious significance of The Hajj cannot be underestimated. As a sacred act performed by the prophet Mohammed – the founder of Islam – it holds a deep reverence for all devoted Muslims across the globe. The fact that the Kaaba has a rock thought to have fallen from heaven itself gives the place its holiness and delaying the pilgrimage whilst in a fit state is considered a sin.
The ritual is associated with a process of self-renewal and is a reminder that every Muslim will stand before God on Judgement Day.