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{December 23, 2008}   Hajj in Makkah

History of Hajj

Hajj” means literally “to set out for a place”. For a Muslim, that place is the Holy City of Makkah.


Preparation for Hajj (Purification)

To begin Hajj, if not already in a state of purification, the pilgrim should enter the state of Ihram.



Ihram is a state of purity and holiness. A man in Ihram is called muhrim; a woman is called muhrima.

The word Ihram is also used to denote the garment worn by pilgrims when in the state of Ihram. Men garb themselves in a white, seamless, two-piece garment. The top garment covers the torso but, during Umrah and Hajj, not necessarily the right shoulder. The lower garment covers from waist to knee. Women wear long white robes which cover them from head to toe. All wear sandals, rather than shoes.

To enter Ihram, pilgrims must wash themselves. A man may trim his hair and cut his nails. During Ihram, sexual activity, shaving, and cutting one’s nails or skin all are forbidden. There are also prohibitions against killing animals, except those that can harm people, fighting or quarreling, using perfumes, washing hair with shampoo, wearing gloves or socks, or uprooting oats or trees. Those who do these knowingly or unknowingly or by forgetting have to pay a penalty by sacrificing an animal or giving alms.

There are five places some distance from the Holy City of Makkah which pilgrims must not cross before they are in a state of Ihram if they intend to enter al Masjid al Haram for Umrah or Hajj. These points or stations are called Miqats.


Performing the Welcome Tawaf and Sa’y

Rituals of Umrah


  1. Pilgrims enter the Holy Sanctuary (al Masjid al Haram), preferably with their right foot first through the Bab as-Salam gate, reciting the Talbiyah (It is a kind of prayer asking Allah, to forgive the sins and open the doors of his mercy for the pilgrims)
  2. Pilgrims proclaim a blessing (Salawat) on the beloved Prophet by keeping their eyes fixed on the Holy Kaaba. This is considered to be an especially propitious time to offer prayers to the Almighty. Holy verses are recited.
  3. TALBIYAH: While uttering Talbiyah, they take the circumambulation of the Kaaba (Tawaf) on reaching the Black Stone (al-Hajar al-Aswad), which is the starting point for the circumambulation. [To prepare for the Tawaf, they pass the upper garment of the Ihram (the rida’) under the right arm and over the left shoulder, thus leaving the right shoulder bare. This procedure is called ‘iddtibaa’.]
  4. NIYYAH: By standing facing the Kaaba, with the Black Stone to the right. They perform Niyyah (i.e. expressing the intention to start the performance of Umrah) and kiss the Black Stone. This act of kissing the Black Stone is called Istilam.
  5. TAWAF: Then they take seven circumambulation, by moving right and keeping Kaaba to the left, counter-clockwise, around the Kaaba.
  6. HATEEM: Hateem is a semi-circular section which originally formed part of the Kaaba but was not incorporated into the Kaaba when the Kaaba was rebuilt. It is included in the circumambulations. Istilam is performed at the end of each circuit.
  7. COMPLETION OF TAWAF: On completion of your seven circumambulations, men cover their right shoulder, thus ending iddtibaa’.
  8. MULTAZAM: Between the Black Stone and the door of the Kaaba is a deeply holy place about two meters in length where it is very good to pray.
  9. MAQAM IBRAHIM: On completion of the seven circumambulations, prayers are offered on approaching Maqam Ibrahim (the Station of Ibrahim)
  10. SAFA AND MARWAH: Now they perform the Sa’y, the shuttling between the two hills of Safa and Marwah. They have to complete the seven passages by proceeding towards Marwah, until they reach the green marker and then running (only men) until they reach the next green marker, whereupon they revert to Marwah. (The area between the two markers is where Haajar used to hear her baby Ishmael crying out from thirst while she was looking for help. She ran whenever she heard his cries). This is repeated till they complete seven passages, ending their Sa’y at Marwah. While performing Sa’y, they recite verses from the Holy Qur’an.
  11. CUTTING OF HAIR: On completing of Sa’y, men clip their hair so that there can be enough hair to shave after performing Hajj. Women clip their hair one or two Cm’s. On doing this their Umrah is completed and they wear normal clothes by terminating their Ihram.



The Kaaba, a large stone structure constituting a single room with a marble floor, lies at the heart of the Holy Mosque (al Masjid al Haram) in the Holy City of Makkah. The Kaaba is Islam’s holiest building. It now stands some 60 feet high and each side is approximately 60 feet in length. The Kaaba is the focal point around which the Holy Mosque is built.

The four walls of the Kaaba are covered with a black curtain (the Kiswah) which reaches to the ground and is fastened to the Shadharwan with copper rings.

The door of the Kaaba is set in the south-east wall, about seven feet from the ground. Inside, there are pillars, which support the roof. The interior is furnished with many gold and silver lamps. On the inner walls, there are several bands of inscriptions which record the many repairs done to the Kaaba.

The Holy Qur’an makes it clear that Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son Ishmael were the true founders of the Kaaba, together building the holy shrine dedicated to the worship of the one true God.

Five times each day more than a billion Muslims around the world turn to face the direction of the Kaaba to offer their prayers to the one true God. It is also, of course, the focal point of the Hajj when, once each year, some two million pilgrims converge on the Holy City of Makkah.

Set in the eastern corner of the Kaaba is the Black Stone (al-Hajar al-Aswad). The Black Stone predates the birth of Islam but now, set in gold, forms an integral part of the Kaaba. In the course of the pilgrimage, the Hajjis will kiss or touch the Black Stone, not because the Black Stone is holy in itself but because it was kissed by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

On the roof of the Kaaba is a gilt water spout (al-Masabb) which projects out from the north-west wall.

Opposite the north-west wall of the Kaaba, but not joined to it, is a semi-circular wall (Al-Hateem) which is 5ft high and 3ft thick. This area is also known as Hijr Ishmael.

To the north-east side of the Kaaba is the Maqam Ibrahim, a small kiosk of glass and metal topped by a small dome. In it is kept the stone on which Ibrahim stood while building the Kaaba.

Nearly opposite the Black Stone, near the Maqam Ibrahim, is the well of Zamzam.


Black Stone

Set in the eastern corner of the Kaaba is the Black Stone (al-Hajar al-Aswad). The Black Stone predates the birth of Islam but now, set in gold, forms an integral part of the Kaaba.

It was brought from Paradise by the Archangel Gabriel and was set into one corner of the Kaaba.


Maqam Ibrahim

In order to complete the upper part of the walls of the Kaaba, Ibrahim stood upon a large stone block which he moved along when each section was completed. When the Kaaba was finished, the large stone block was left outside the Kaaba, close to the eastern wall of the sanctuary. It became known as the Maqam Ibrahim (the station of Ibrahim).

Today, the Maqam Ibrahim, with the stone within, is located in front of the door of the Kaaba. The boulder is about 2 x 3 feet. Where it stands today is the place where Ibrahim offered up his prayers.



Umrah is one of the important rituals in Islam and has been performed from its inception. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Accumulated sins are expiated with each Umrah“.

Preparation for Umrah

Umrah may be performed at any time of the year.

Umrah performed during Ramadan is considered equal to performing Hajj and offers the same rewards. Nevertheless, performing Umrah during Ramadan is not a substitute for Hajj, the performance of which is mandatory (fard) for all Muslims at least once in a lifetime, if they are physically and financially able.

To perform Umrah, you should be in a state of Ihram.




Three Ways of Performing Hajj

There are three ways of performing the Hajj.

Hajj al-Tamattu’ :

Hajj al-Tamattu’ involves performing Umrah and then Hajj, with one Ihram for each.

This form of Hajj is considered the best of three forms of Hajj. It is the one that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) urged his followers to perform and is the one adopted by most pilgrims from overseas.


Hajj al-Ifrad

Hajj al-Ifrad involves performing Hajj only. A sacrificial animal is not obligatory when performing Hajj al-Ifrad.


Hajj al-Qiran

Hajj al-Qiran involves combining Umrah and Hajj, with only one Ihram for both.

et cetera