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The ritual pilgrimage to the holy city of mecca (Makka), called in Arabic ajj [cf. Hebrew āg, a feast of the Lord, from the verbal root -gg (also -w-g ), to circle around]. One of the Five Pillars of Islam, and commanded by the Qurān: "Pilgrimage to the House of Allah is a duty owed to Allah for those who find a way thereto" (3.91, 97). According to Islamic law every adult Muslim, who is free and of sound mind, and who is able to afford it, is obliged to make the ajj at least once in the lifetime. A man who has made the hajj is known as a hajji, and a woman, a ajjah. The present Islamic ajj generally combines two ancient Arabian rites, viz, the 'umra and the hajj proper, following a precedent set by the Prophet muammad on his "farewell pilgrimage" in the year a.h. 10 (see hijra), though it is probable that the two had been previously associated in pagan practice.

The ritual begins with the entrance of the pilgrims into the sacral state of ritual purity (irām ), either as they first set out for Mecca or as they enter the sacred area (al-aram ) and pronounces the talbiya, i.e., the formula labbayka ["we stand here before You (O Lord)"]. Upon their arrival at the sacred mosque they perform seven times the ritual circumambulation (awâf ) of the Ka'ba; then going to afâ, some 50 yards away they make the say, which consists in running seven times from afâ to Marwa, a small hill not far away, praying at each. This much of the ritual belongs properly to the 'umra.

Thereafter the hajj proper begins. On the eighth day of dhu l-ijja (the yawm al-tarwiya ) the pilgrims leave the city for the plain of Arafāt where, on the ninth day the rites officially begin with the ritual halt (wuqūf ) or standing before the Lord, from noon till sunset, while the pilgrims listen to homilies and shout out the talbiya. After this they make the 'ifāa a run to Muzdalifa, which is accomplished with much tumult of shouting, shooting, and music, and is followed by the two evening prayers. On the tenth day (yawm al-nar ) another wuqūf is made at the mosque before sunrise. After this the pilgrims depart for Minā, where each throws seven stones at the jamrat al-aqaba, one of three heaps of stones found there. This symbolic stoning of Satan, with the shouting of the talbiya, officially ends the ajj. There follows the Great Feast (al-īd al-kabīr ) or the Feast of the Morning Sacrifice ('īd al-aā ), which is celebrated as an obligation throughout Islam with the sacrifice of goats and sheep and perhaps a few camels by the wealthy. The pilgrim may then shave his head and put off the irām. During the ensuing three days (ayyām al-tašrīq ) the pilgrims stay at Minā where they throw seven stones each afternoon at each gamra of the three.

Originally, it would seem, the 'umra and the ajj were quite distinct, the former a spring festival in the month of Rajab (the seventh month of the Islamic calendar), the latter a feast involving a great common fair at the autumnal equinox. However, because of inadequacies in intercalation, the ajj fell during the spring in the time of Muammad, the original significance having been lost altogether. Since the rise of Islam, because of the use of a strict lunar calendar, the ajj may fall at any season of of Muh the year.

Bibliography: d. e. long, The ajj Today: A Survey of the Contemporary Makkah Pilgrimage (Albany, NY 1979). m. wolfe, The adj: A Pilgrimage to Mecca (London 1994). f. e. peters, The ajj: The Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca and the Holy Places (Princeton, N.J. 1994). m. wolfe, One Thousand Roads to Mecca: Ten Centuries of Travelers Writing about the Muslim Pilgrimage (New York 1997). m. w. hofmann, Journey to Makkah (Beltsville, Md. 1998).

[r. m. frank/eds.]