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How to Perform Hajj: A Step by Step Guide

by in Soul on 14th June, 2024

Embarking on the sacred journey of Hajj is a profound experience and an act of devotion that holds immense significance in the life of every Muslim. It is a pilgrimage that transcends time and space, connecting us to the legacy of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and his family. Hajj is a transformative journey of the heart, mind, and soul as its rites are deeply rooted in tradition and spirituality, each step laden with symbolism and meaning.

Narrated by Abu Huraira, Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “The reward of Hajj Mabrur (the one accepted by Allah) is nothing except Paradise.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari)

The first Hajj was performed in In 632 CE, by the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), re-establishing the traditions started by the Prophet Ibrahim (AS). Today, over 2.5 million Muslims around the world travel to Makkah each year in the month of Dhul Hijjah, to stand before Allah (SWT) and fulfil the rites of Hajj.

Even if we are not going for Hajj, the month of Dhul Hijjah holds countless blessings for us. During this month, we can even achieve a similar reward to that of going to Hajj by seeking special reward during this holy month.

Who Can Perform Hajj?

Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an,

“Accomplish the Hajj and the Umrah for Allah..” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:196)

Hajj forms one of the five pillars of Islam. As such, all Muslims must perform Hajj at least once in their lifetime. However, there are still certain conditions that need to be met in order to perform Hajj:

1. Firstly, only Muslim adults (whether male or female) are required to perform Hajj. This means that while children may go to Hajj, it is not required of them. 

2. Secondly, the very weak, sick, elderly, or otherwise physically incapable Muslims are exempt from having to perform the pilgrimage.

3. Thirdly, the Muslim must be financially able to perform Hajj. This means that a person in debt is not obliged to perform Hajj until he has cleared his debt – and they must have the intention of doing so as a priority. However, if one is in debt, they may still perform Hajj as long as:

  • The creditor permits it
  • The debtor has time to pay off the debt
  • Hajj does not affect their ability to pay off the debt

When to Perform Hajj?

Hajj takes place annually between the 8th to the 12th of Dhul Hijjah. Because the Islamic calendar follows the lunar cycle, the corresponding Gregorian dates shift by about 11-12 days each year.

During this time, Muslims from around the world make their way to Makkah by various means of transportation. If you’re travelling from the UK, you’ll likely fly into Saudi Arabia, landing in Jeddah or Madinah, before continuing your journey to Makkah with your Hajj group. Many Muslims also travel from far by ground transportation, some even walking to fulfil their duty by any means necessary. 

How to Perform Hajj?

There are three types of Hajj and the Hajj you perform will depend on the intention you make when you come into the state of Ihram:

  • Hajj Tamattu

The pilgrim who does Tamattu, will make an intention to perform an initial Umrah and then exit the ihram after performing  its introductory Tawaaf and Sa’i. Once they get back to their hotel, they will wear their regular clothes until it’s time to enter the ihram once again and go to Mina for the beginning of Hajj. They will also sacrifice an animal (hadiy) which includes small animals such as sheep, goats or 1/7 share of large animals like a cow or camel. 

  • Haj Ifraad

The one choosing Ifrad only does Hajj, without performing any Umrah rituals before it. This type of Hajj is usually performed by people living in Makkah. It is not obligatory upon them to sacrifice an animal, however sacrificing an animal is recommended. 

  • Hajj Qiran

The one choosing Qiran will be in the state of Ihram from the moment they arrive in Makkah to the end of Hajj. This means that they will perform Umrah and then remain in Ihram until Hajj is completed. So, both Umrah and Hajj are done in one Ihram. They will also sacrifice an animal.

The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) encouraged Muslims to perform Hajj Tamattu, which is the most common type of Hajj performed. Regardless of the type of Hajj you choose to do, you will have to be in the state of Ihram to enter Makkah. Upon arrival, after pilgrims have checked in their hotels and rested if required, the first ritual they must complete is the introductory Tawaf. The pilgrims performing Hajj Tamattu will begin with their Umrah and the Tawaf of this Umrah will serve as their introductory Tawaf, known as Tawaf Qudum.

Step by Step Guide for Performing Hajj

1. Preparation and Intention

As you embark on your journey to Makkah for Hajj, remember to set your intention deep within your heart. Your niyyah (intention) should be pure and solely for the sake of Allah (SWT), seeking goodness in the hereafter. This initial step lays the foundation for a spiritually enriching pilgrimage.

2. Performing Umrah Before Hajj

If you arrive in Makkah before 8th of Dhul Hijjah or if you are intending to do Hajj Tamattu, you will be blessed with the opportunity to perform an Umrah before beginning your Hajj. Before getting to Makkah, there is a location point that marks the beginning of your Hajj called the Miqat before which adeclaration of intention must be made.You cannot pass Miqat without being in the state of Ihram if you intend to do Hajj or Umrah. 

Depending on where you enter Makkah from, you will have a different Miqat. If you are flying to Jeddah or Makkah, the captain flying the plane will inform you of the moment you pass the Miqat, so that you can formulate your intention. Usually, people who arrive by plane to Makkah, without passing by Madinah first, will wear their ihram in the country they are leaving from. If you are on a layover, you will get in the state of Ihram at the airport.

The steps to perform Umrah are as follows:

  1. Enter state of Ihram
  2. Pray 2 Rakah Salah to make Niyyah (intention) for Umrah
  3. Recite Talbiyah
  4. Perform Tawaf-al-Umrah
  5. Pray 2 Rakah Salah at Maqam-e-Ibrahim
  6. Drink Zamzam
  7. Perform Sa’i
  8. Halq or Taqsir.*

You can also read our detailed and easy guide on How to Perform Umrah

* Please note that Halq or Taqsir are the final actions of Umrah which mark one exiting the state of pilgrim sanctity (Ihram) and must only be done for those observing Hajj Tamattu. Pilgrims performing Hajj Qiran cannot exit their Ihram until Hajj is completed.

3. Rest and Pray

After completing the rites of Umrah, you can now relax and pray, enjoying the spiritual atmosphere of Makkah, coming and going from the Haram frequently to make the most of your time there.

4. Re-entering State of Ihram (Day 1 – 8th Dhul Hijjah)

Before beginning the Hajj rituals, you will enter into the state of Ihram again as explained below:

Entering The State Of Ihram

Pilgrims will enter the state of Ihram after Fajr on the 8th of Dhul Hijjah. Before you begin, it’s also important to take care of personal hygiene. This includes clipping nails and removing the hair under armpits and beneath the navel. It is highly recommended to perform Ghusl before entering the state of Ihram.

For men, ihram means wearing the two piece set of designated white cloth with one piece wrapped around your shoulder and second around your waist.

Women can wear any modest attire while fulfilling the requirements of Ihram. Keep your hands and face exposed, but you can wear socks. Unlike men, women are allowed to wear closed shoes. The use of fragrances like scented soaps or perfumes  is completely prohibited.

If a mistake is made during Hajj, Umrah or whilst in a state of Ihram, Fidyah (expiation) is required to atone for the mistake. Fidyah is obligatory when you have:

  1. Violated one of the prohibitions of Ihram, such as applying perfume or cutting the hair.
  2. Failed to perform a Wajib (obligatory) act of Umrah (i.e. did not enter into Ihram from the Miqat).

5. Perform Two Units of Prayer and Making Niyyah (Intention) to Perform Hajj

After you have donned your Ihram clothes, enter the state of Ihram by performing two Rakah Salah and make sincere niyyah (intention) for Hajj verbally as well as internally, in order to align your heart and mind. Make lots of du’a and ask for Allah (SWT)’s guidance and blessings for the journey ahead. 

Once you’ve entered the state of Ihram, you’ll begin reciting the following invocation called the Talbiyah:

لَبَّيْكَ اللَّهُمَّ لَبَّيْكَ، لَبَّيْكَ لاَ شَرِيْكَ لَكَ لَبَّيْكَ، إِنَّ الْحَمْدَ وَالنِّعْمَةَ لَكَ وَالْمُلْكَ لاَشَرِيْكَ لَكَ

Labbayka Allāhumma labbayk. Labbayk lā shareeka laka labbayk. Inna al-ḥamda, wa n-‘imata, Laka wal mulk. Lā shareeka lak.

“Here I am, O Allah, here I am, here I am. You have no partner, here I am. Verily all praise and blessings are Yours, and all sovereignty. You have no partner.”

6. Arrive at Mina

On the 8th day of Dhul Hijjah after sunrise, pilgrims proceed to Mina, which is a tent city located approximately 5 kilometres away from Makkah, where pilgrims spend the day and night in worship and reflection. Once you settle in your tent, try to be patient as space inside these can be very tight. You might find yourself feeling hot due to the weather and the close proximity to other pilgrims. Try to carry a small handheld fan to cool yourself and stay hydrated.

Spend the night praying to Allah (SWT), reading the Qur’an and preparing for day two. It’s an important time for spiritual reflection, introspection and dedication to our Rabb. 

Allah (SWT) mentions the days of Mina in the Qur’an,

“And remember Allah during ˹these˺ appointed days. Whoever departs swiftly on the second day is not sinful, neither are those who stay behind ˹till the third—seeking additional reward, so long as they are mindful ˹of their Lord˺. And be mindful of Allah, and know that to Him you will ˹all˺ be gathered.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:203)

7. Day of Arafah (Day 2 – 9th Dhul Hijjah)

On the 9th day of Dhul Hijjah, pilgrims travel to the plain of Arafah after sunrise, where they stand in prayer and supplication from Dhuhr until Maghrib. 

The day of Arafah is one of the most important days for Muslims across the world, as Allah (SWT) refers to the Day of Arafah in Surah al-Ma’idah as the Day on which He perfected His religion, completed His favours upon His beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and approved Islam as a way of life.

“Today I have perfected your faith for you, completed My favour upon you, and chosen Islam as your way. But whoever is compelled by extreme hunger—not intending to sin—then surely Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:3)

The Prophet (ﷺ) also said:

“There is no day on which Allah frees people from the Fire more so than on the day of Arafah. He comes close to those (people standing on Arafah), and then He reveals before His Angels saying, ‘What are these people seeking.” (Muslim)

On this day, there will be a sermon delivered from Masjid al-Nimra on Mount Arafah. Try to listen to the Khutbah (sermon) if possible. Your group may also facilitate a translation of this sermon in English.

As you stand on the plains of Arafah, make lots of du’a, reciting istighfar, asking Allah (SWT) for forgiveness and blessings for you and your family, friends, relatives, neighbours as well as the wider Ummah in your du’a on this special day.

8. Muzdalifah

After sunset, pilgrims leave Arafah for Muzdalifah, an open plain between Mina and Arafah. At Muzdalifah, you should perform Maghrib and Isha Salah, in Isha time, one after the other.

Afterwards, you can choose to spend the night in either worship or resting. The Prophet (ﷺ) went to sleep until shortly before Fajr, choosing not to engage in night worship as he normally did. There are no tents or other accommodation facilities at Muzdalifah so you will be staying under the night sky. 

While in Muzdalifah, pilgrims must collect pebbles to perform Rami at Jamarat (the stoning of the devil), over the next three days. The size of the pebbles should be similar to the size of date stones/seeds. You will need a total of 49 pebbles. However, it is recommended that you pick up a further 21 pebbles to bring your total up to 70 as a precaution as you might miss the target or some pebbles might fall from your hand when you throw them at Jamarat. Pebbles can also be collected from anywhere in Mina.

9. Rami (Day 3 – 10th Dhul Hijjah & start of Eid al-Adha)

The 10th of Dhul Hijjah is also called the Yawm al-Nahr, or the Day of Sacrifice (Qurbani). After performing Fajr Salah, pilgrims depart Muzdalifah and go back towards Mina while continuously reciting the Talbiyah.

This day marks the beginning of the first of three days of Rami (stoning of the devil) which is the act of throwing stones at three stone structures in Mina which are called Jamarat. The first day of stoning occurs on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah. Muslims around the world also offer Qurbani during this time and begin the festival of Eid al-Adha. 

“And when you are safe, then, whoever avails the advantage of the ‘Umrah along with the Hajj shall make an offering of whatever animal is available. However, any one who finds none shall fast for three days during Hajj, and for seven days when you return; thus they are ten in all. This is for him whose family folk are not residents of Al-Masjid-ul-Harām. Fear Allah and be aware that Allah is severe in punishment..” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:196)

The ritual of Rami is symbolic of the actions of Ibrahim (AS) when he was faced with the trial of having to sacrifice his son, Isma’il (AS) upon the commandment of Allah (SWT). On the way to carry out Allah (SWT)’s command, Iblis repeatedly tried to tempt Ibrahim (AS) into disobeying Allah (SWT). As Ibrahim (AS) reached Jamarat al-Aqaba (the biggest pillar), Allah (SWT) ordered Angel Jibreel (AS) to instruct Ibrahim (AS) to throw seven stones at Iblis. He obliged, and Iblis fled immediately. The three Jamarat indicate the three places where Iblis tried to dissuade Ibrahim (AS) from obeying the command of Allah. However, the pillars only represent the place where this occurred and do not contain Iblis.

How To Perform The Rami (The Stoning Of The Devil)

On the 10th, 11th, and 12th day of Dhul Hijjah, you will perform Rami (the stoning of the devil). The size of the pebbles should be similar to the size of date stones or seeds. You will need a total of 49 pebbles.

The number of pebbles for each of the three days is as follows:

  • 7 pebbles for 10th Dhul Hijjah
  • 21 pebbles for 11th Dhul Hijjah
  • 21 pebbles for 12th Dhul Hijjah

Use four pouches to group pebbles accordingly. Once you reach the Jamarat, you will head to Jamarat al-Aqaba, which is the largest pillar, and here you will throw the first seven pebbles at the concrete pillar. Only pelt this one pillar on the first day. When throwing pebbles, imagine you are throwing aside your blameworthy traits and reprehensible acts to disgrace Shaytan.

Upon each throw, say the takbir:

اللهُ أَكْبَرُ

“Allahu ‘Akbar”

“Allah is The Greatest”

10. Hadiy

After stoning the devil, pilgrims sacrifice an animal (usually a sheep or goat), in remembrance of Prophet Ibrahim (AS)’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isma’il (AS) upon Allah (SWT)’s orders. This day, the 10th of Dhul Hijjah also marks the festival of Eid al-Adha or Feast of Sacrifice, which is also celebrated by Muslims around the world who are not performing Hajj.

11. Shaving of the Head (Day 4 – 11th Dhul Hijjah)

After the sacrifice, men are required to shave their heads or trim their hair, symbolising humility and the removal of worldly attachments. Barbers are readily available around Mina for this purpose. Women only need to trim a small portion of their hair from the ends, which can be done with a small pair of scissors. This act signifies spiritual renewal and permission to leave the state of Ihram.

After shaving/trimming hair, all pilgrim restrictions including using fragrance, are lifted except sexual intimacy with spouse. The Prophet (ﷺ) would apply musk at this point. This Sunnah of applying fragrance applies to men. Women may use fragrance too, but they should be mindful that it is not applied strongly, to avoid attracting unnecessary attention.

12.Tawaf al-Ziyarah 

Pilgrims now return to Makkah to perform Tawaf al-Ziyarah (Tawaf of the visit), also known as Tawaf al-Ifadah, circumambulating the Kaaba seven times.

13. Sa’i

After Tawaf al-Ziyarah, pilgrims perform Sa’i once again between Safa and Marwa. Both Tawaf al-Ziyarah and Sa’i are obligatory part of Hajj rituals. With the completion of the Tawaf and Sa’i, pilgrims can relax and do everything that was lawful before entering the Ihram, including engaging in marital relations.

However, you must return to your tent in Mina and continue the rest of the Hajj rituals.

14. Second Day of Rami (Day 5 – 11th Dhul Hijjah)

On the 11th of Dhul Hijjah, proceed to Jamarat from Mina to stone the three pillars representing Iblis for a second time. The recommended time for stoning on the second and third day of Rami is when the sun begins to decline from zenith (zawal) until sunset.

This time, you should begin with Jamarah al-Ula (the small pillar), then Jamarah al-Wusta (the second/middle pillar) and finally, Jamarah al-Aqaba (the third/large pillar). Pause after the first and second Jamarat to make du’a facing the qibla. Each pillar should be stoned with seven consecutive pebbles accompanied by the Takbir. Don’t forget to carry spare pebbles with you in case you lose some!

15. Spending The Night at Mina

Head back to Mina to spend another night here, continuing to perform prayers and supplications. 

16. The Third Day of Rami (Day 6 – 12th Dhul Hijjah)

On the 12th of Dhul Hijjah, you will repeat the steps of Rami from the day before and stone the three pillars representing Iblis for a final time. 

After stoning on the third day, one can now leave Mina and return to Makkah.

17. Farewell Tawaf al-Wida

This is your last step of Hajj before your Hajj is complete and you have to leave Makkah. The farewell Tawaf, also known as Tawaf al-Wida, is the last rite pilgrims must perform, bidding farewell to the Kaaba. It can also be done anytime after Tawaf al-Ziyarah, as any Tawaf done after Tawaf al-Ziyara can suffice for the farewell Tawaf.

This Tawaf is Wajib (obligatory) according to Hanafis, Shafi’is and Hanbalis but Sunnah according to Malikis and must be performed prior to leaving the boundaries of the Haram. Omitting this Tawaf, without a valid reason, is not deemed lawful in Islam.

Ibn Abbas (RA) narrated,

“The people were ordered to perform the Tawaf al-Wida as the last thing before leaving (Makkah), except the menstruating women who were excused.” (Bukhari)

For this Tawaf, you will complete seven laps of Tawaf. Then perform two Rakah of Salah at Maqam-e-Ibrahim and drink ZamZam water. There is no Sa’i or shaving/trimming of the head after this Tawaf.

You’ve now completed your Hajj! – Mabrook!

As you come back from this beautiful pilgrimage, may you always carry the essence of Hajj in your hearts, forever striving to embody the virtues of patience, humility, and gratitude in your daily life, following in the footsteps of the righteous.

May Allah (SWT) accept our Hajj and grant us forgiveness and mercy. May Allah (SWT) make it easy for all Muslims to perform Hajj and fulfill this obligation with sincerity and devotion. Ameen.

Amaliah Team

Amaliah Team

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