Saudi Arabia announces start dates for Hajj and Eid Al Adha

Crescent moon marking the start of the month of Dhu Al Hijjah was sighted on Thursday evening

Worshippers gather around the Kaaba in Makkah. AFP
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The annual Hajj pilgrimage will begin on June 14 with Eid Al Adha falling two days later, Saudi Arabia said.

The announcement by the Saudi Supreme Court came after the crescent moon, which heralds the start of Dhu Al Hijjah, the 12th and final month in the Islamic calendar, was sighted on Thursday evening.

It means Dhu Al Hijjah will begin on Friday, allowing for the start dates of both Hajj – which falls on the eighth day of the month – and Eid Al Adha, which commences on its 10th day, to be determined.

Hajj will begin on Friday, June 14, with Arafat Day on the following day. Eid Al Adha celebrations will begin on Sunday, June 16.

The Supreme Court called on Muslims in the kingdom to look for the crescent moon on Thursday evening. An official committee was chosen to try to spot it at sunset.

Dhu Al Hijjah is considered one of the four sacred months for Muslims, called Al Ash-hur Al Hurom. The others months are Rajab (the seventh month), Dhu Al Qaeda (11th) and Muharram (first).

Hajj and Eid Al Adha explained

Millions of Muslims travel to Makkah to perform Hajj each year, with many also heading farther north to the city of Madinah.

All able Muslims are required to make the Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah at least once in their lifetime. Hajj and the other four pillars of Islam form a foundation of life for Muslims.

The annual pilgrimage takes place during Dhu Al Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar and lasts for four to six days.

Saudi Arabia said it would allow up to two million pilgrims from abroad to enter the kingdom this year and has expanded capacity several years after the coronavirus pandemic limited access to the holy sites. Last year, about 1.8 million Muslims from around the world performed the Hajj.

Eid Al Adha means “festival of the sacrifice”. It coincides with the pilgrimage to Makkah.

The sacrifice the holiday commemorates is explained in the Quran, which tells of how the Prophet Ibrahim was asked by God in a dream to sacrifice his son, Ismail, as a test of his faith.

Warning of high temperatures

Saudi Arabia has forecast an average high temperature of 48ºC in Makkah during Hajj.

“The expected climate for Hajj this year is an increase in average temperatures of 1.5ºC to 2ºC above normal in Makkah and Madinah,” National Meteorology Centre chief Ayman Ghulam said on Tuesday.

He said afternoon temperatures could peak at 48ºC.

“We expect relative humidity of 25 per cent, and although we expect a low probability of rain during most days, there's some forecast of heavy rains in the high plains of Taif that may then make its way to the holy sites,” he said.

Updated: June 07, 2024, 4:28 AM