El Hajj

The fifth and last pillar of Islam is Hajj. The visit to the sacred house of Allah, in Makkah, at least once in a lifetime, provided that one is in a position to do so, both physically and economically. This visit is carried out precisely and according to ancient rites, originating from the prophets Ibrahim and Ismail, restored and purified by the Messenger of Allah. Hajj is to get away from the everyday, leave home, country and family behind, and travel to worship Allah, unique and without partner, visit the land of revelation, where Abraham erected the first house for God on earth and where the Qur’an descended on the seal and culmination of the envoys, the prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Hajj is a difficult journey, which requires tremendous effort, and which implies an affirmation of total surrender to God with all the faculties and resources available to one.

The pilgrimage is celebrated on a certain date of the year, in the first ten days of the month called Dhul Hijjah. On those days, Muslims from all over the world gather to perform the rites of pilgrimage together. The pilgrim must adopt simple and humble clothing and footwear and remain in an interior state of consecration to his Lord. This state of consecration and clothing are called ihram.

The rites of the pilgrimage consist of circumambulating the House of Allah (Ka’ba) seven times, traveling seven times the distance that separates the hills of Safa and Marwa, a journey that recalls the one that Ismail’s mother did, when having nothing to eat or drink, I would go from one to another of these hills desperately looking for water, food or help. The seventh time, when he returned with his son, he was hitting the ground with his heel, and from there water began to gush out, and it did not stop, that is the spring of Zam-Zam that still continues to provide the pilgrims with water to drink.

The next step of the pilgrimage is to go to the valley of Mina, and camp there. Then ascend on the ninth day of the month, to the plain of Arafat, where he will pray the prayers of Duhur and Asr, where he remains the whole day in prayer and invocation of Allah until the sun has set. The stay in the Plain of Arafat is the central and main rite of the pilgrimage.

At dusk, the pilgrims start the march again to go to the valley of Muzdalifa and spend the night there. The next morning, the tenth of the month, the pilgrims return to Mina to stone the post called al Jamarat-ul Aqaba with seven pebbles. On that morning, in the Mina valley, the remaining rites are fulfilled: the sacrifice, the shaving of the head (or haircut). The woman does not shave, however she just cuts off a little of her hair. Finally, on return the person has to circumambulate the Ka’ba. This circumambulation is called Tawaf al Ifaqa. With this, the pilgrim frees himself from the clothing and restrictions of Ihram and returns to the Mina camp to stay there two or three nights together with all the pilgrims of the most diverse origins and provenances.

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