ḥajj

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Ḥajj (Arab.). Pilgrimage to Mecca, specifically to the Kaʿba, during the month Dhūʾl-Ḥijja. This is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, a duty ordered in the Qurʾān (3. 91/97). This is incumbent upon every adult free Muslim, of sound mind, with sufficient funds to cover his journey and the expenses of his family during his absence. Women should be suitably escorted.

The general term ḥajj includes the ʿumra (lesser pilgrimage) to the Kaʿba, which can be performed at any time of the year but does not itself fulfil the obligations of ḥajj.

The area around Mecca is designated ḥarām (holy); the male pilgrim on reaching the boundary exchanges his usual clothes for two pieces of white cloth, covering the upper and lower parts of the body, and wears sandals; women, also in white, cover their whole body except face and hands. The pilgrim has now entered the state of iḥrām, and until the end of the ḥajj ceremonies he must not put on other clothes, wear shoes, cut nails or hair, engage in sexual relations, take part in arguments, fighting, nor hunting of game. The talbīyah is repeated frequently.

In Mecca itself the pilgrim goes first to the Masjid al-Ḥarām for the rites of ṭawāf, ‘circumambulation’ of the Kaʿba, and of saʿy, ‘running’, and will if possible kiss the Black Stone. The ḥajj proper begins on the seventh day, with a khuṭba (sermon) at the mosque. On the eighth day, all pilgrims move eastwards from Mecca, spending that night at Minā or, further on, at ʿArafāt. On the ninth day, the central and essential part of ḥajj takes place, the wuqūf (‘standing’) at ʿArafāt, before a small hill named Jabal al-Raḥma. Then pilgrims hurry back to the small town of Muzdalifa within the Meccan boundaries, to stay overnight. On the tenth day, which is ʿId al-Aḍḥā, they move to Minā, first to throw seven small stones (see RAJM) at a rock called Jamrat al-ʿAqaba, then to perform the ritual sacrifice. From Minā the pilgrims return to Mecca to perform another ṭawāf; then the head can be shaved, or the hair cut, and the state of iḥrām is over.

hajj

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hajj / haj/ (also haj or hadj) • n. the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca that takes place in the last month of the year, and that all Muslims are expected to make at least once during their lifetime.

hajj

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hajj the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca which takes place in the last month of the year, and which all Muslims are expected to make at least once during their lifetime. The word comes from Arabic (al-) ḥajj ‘(the Great) Pilgrimage’. A Muslim who has been to Mecca as a pilgrim is known as a haji.

Hajj

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Hajj (Arabic, ‘migration’) Pilgrimage to Mecca, made in the 12th month of the Muslim year. All Muslims are required to undertake the Hajj. It is the last of the Five Pillars of Islam.