The Hajj (pilgrimage to city Makkah) is the 5th of the basic Muslim practices and institutions well-known as the 5 pillars of Islam. Pilgrimage is made to the Holy Kaaba, found in the holy city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia, the ‘House of ALLAH Almighty,’ whose sanctity rests in that the Hazrat Ibraheem (AS) built it for the worship of ALLAH Almighty. ALLAH Almighty rewarded him by attributing the House to himself, in essence honouring it, and by making it the devotional epicentre which all Muslims face when offering the namaz or prayers. The rites and the rituals of pilgrimage are performed today exactly as did by Hazrat Ibraheem (AS) and after him by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Pilgrimage is viewed as a particularly praiseworthy activity. Pilgrimage serves as a penance, the ultimate pardon for sins, devotion, and extreme spirituality. The pilgrimage to Makkah, the most holy city in Islam, is required of all financially and physically able Muslims once in their life. The pilgrimage rite starts a few months after Holy Ramadan, in the month last month of Zil-Hajj on the 8th day, and ends on the 13th day. Makkah is the center towards which the Muslims meet once a year, meet and revive in themselves the faith that all Muslims are equivalent and deserve the sympathy and love of others, irrespective of their race or racial origin.
Therefore the pilgrimage unites the Muslims of the globe into one international fraternity. More than 2 million persons perform the Hajj each year, and the rite serves as a unifying power in Islam by bringing Muslims of diverse backgrounds together in worship. In few Muslim societies, once a Muslim has made the pilgrimage, he is often labelled with the title ‘hajji’; this, though, is a cultural, rather than religious custom.
Finally, the Hajj is a manifestation of the faith in the oneness of ALLAH Almighty, all the pilgrims worship and obey the orders and commands of the One ALLAH Almighty.
At certain stations on the caravan routes to Makkah, or when the pilgrim passes the nearest point to those stations, the pilgrim enters the state of purity well-known as ihram. In this state, the particular ‘normal’ actions of the day and night become prohibited and impermissible for the pilgrims, such as clipping the fingernails, covering the head, and wearing normal garments in regards to men. Males remove their daily wears and don the garments particular to this state of ihram, 2 white seamless sheets that are wrapped around the body in a prescribed way. All this increases the sanctity and reverence of the pilgrimage, the city of Makkah, and month of Zil-Hijjah. After entering into the state of ihram, the pilgrim proceeds to Makkah and awaits the start of the Hajj.
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