The Hajj The Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca
For centuries people have been arriving at this city on their way to Mecca.
Traditionally pilgrims would have arrived from all over the world by ship.
During the Hajj men adopt the distinctive clothing of the Ihram. • It consists of two pieces of seamless white cloth. • The Ihram refers both to the garment and to the rites which will be performed by the pilgrim.
Many pilgrims find places on the government buses which run continually from Jeddah to Mecca.
Finally the pilgrims arrive in Mecca. • The centre of the Muslim world.
Pilgrims arrive at night and head for the main mosque in Mecca. • At the centre is the Ka’bah.
The Ka’bah is a small shrine which is said to have been built by Abraham. • It is considered to be the first shrine built by humans to honour God.
It is towards the Ka’bah that Muslims all over the world pray five times a day.
The Ka’bah is draped by a huge black embroidered cloth called the Kiswah. • The Kiswah is replaced every year for the Hajj. • It is decorated in gold with verses from the Qur’an.
All the time people stand before the Ka’bah in prayer. • For Muslims it is the high point in their lives. • Many have been saving up for a long time. • Many will never be able to afford to make the trip again.
On one of the corners of the Ka’bah is a black stone. • The black stone is in fact a meteorite that Muslims claim was placed there by Muhammad himself. • Each pilgrim hopes to kiss it before starting seven complete circuits of the Ka’bah.
After completing the circuits of the Ka’bah, the pilgrims head for a covered walkway. • The walkway connects the two hills of al-Safa and al-Marwa. • The walkway covers the route taken by Hagar, the wife of Abraham, in her search for water • Pilgrims pass the route seven times.
The pilgrims then travel 10 miles to the plain of Arafat. • The pilgrims camp for one night on the plain of Arafat.
At noon pilgrims flood into the Mosque of Namira for the midday prayers. • Only a small proportion of the pilgrims manage to get into the mosque.
The climax of the Hajj takes place here as all the pilgrims stand “before God.”
The setting sun signifies the hour of maghrib prayer. • However, the pilgrims do not have time to pray - instead they hasten away from Arafat, as the prophet did, and head towards Muzdalifah.
Mina is a small and ancient town. • Huge walkways have been built to accommodate the vast numbers of pilgrims. • On their way from Arafat each person has collected forty nine pebbles.
The pebbles are thrown at three pillars to symbolically stone Satan and thereby reject him.
After showing their rejection of Satan, the pilgrims discard their Ihrams and adopt colourful clothes. • Pilgrims also make a sacrifice of an animal in the great feast of sacrifice.
Although the Hajj is officially over with the sacrifice at Mina, many pilgrims take the opportunity to visit Medina, the place of Muhammad’s tomb.
Medina is the place where the prophet Muhammad chose to build his first mosque after he had been rejected in Mecca.
The prophet’s mosque is built close to the place where Muhammad and his companions preached, prayed and lived. • Medina is the second holiest place in Islam after Mecca.