Hajj 2017: All you need to know

Read our explainer on the main Hajj rituals and guidelines

This year’s Hajj saw almost 2 million pilgrims complete their pilgrimage. Omer Saleem / EPA
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When is Hajj taking place this year?

It will begin on August 30. Between two and three million Muslims from around the world are expected to travel to Mecca.

The importance of Hajj to Muslims

Mecca is the first house of worship known to mankind. It is full of blessings, and symbols from the days of Prophet Ibrahim. It also has the ever-running Zamzam water which was created through divine miracle.

One's Hajj is guaranteed to be accepted by Allah if it is done with the intention of seeking his pleasure (not to show off), and without committing a sin or fighting with anyone, the pilgrim is pardoned of all preceding sins and granted paradise in the hereafter.

Hajj is one of the greatest deeds in Islam, as it teaches patience, good ethics, and its rituals bring a person closer to his/her creator.

Muslim pilgrims on the first day of Eid Al Adha in 2016. Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters
Muslim pilgrims on the first day of Eid Al Adha in 2016. Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters

How to prepare for Hajj

—  One must purify the Niyyah (intention) for Hajj to be sincere for the sake of Allah only, and not for other worldly matters.

— One must revise the way Prophet Mohammed performed it, and follow his footsteps.

— Hajj must be performed with halal (lawfully obtained) money, in order for it to count.

— A person must be kind and generous with both his wealth and actions. He must avoid annoying or disturbing others, especially under the crowded conditions and tough proceedings of Hajj.

Essential items for Hajj

— For men, two sets of white sheets that do not contain stitches or seams which they must wear when they are in the state of Ihram while performing the Hajj rituals. This is to convey purity and equality, and to rid pilgrims of distinctions between different classes of society.

— For women, simple long modest dresses or Abayas.

— Non-scented soap, deodorant and any other necessary cosmetics, as one must not be perfumed in any way while in the state of Ihram.


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While in the state of Ihram

—   One must not have sexual relations with his/her spouse.

—   One must avoid obscene and immoral speech, and must not commit sinful acts.

—   One must not cut anything from the hair and nails, or apply perfume to his body, clothes, food or drink. However, it is acceptable if any traces of perfume remained on any of that before he/she entered the state of Ihram.

—   One should not hunt.

—   One should not enter into a marriage contract for himself or arrange a marriage for anyone else.

—   One must not wear gloves.

—   Men should not wear anything on their heads.

—   Women should not cover their faces.

Pilgrims on Mount Arafat. Nariman El-Mofty / AP Photo
Pilgrims on Mount Arafat. Nariman El-Mofty / AP Photo

Hajj rituals

Day 1 — Wednesday: Known as the day of Tarwiyah, falls on the 8th of Dhu Al Hijjah.

Pilgrims go from Mecca to Mina before noon, and they spend the night there.

Day 2 — Thursday: Known as the day of Arafah which is the pivotal day of Hajj, pilgrims move from Mina after praying Fajir (dawn prayer) to Mount Arafah. Pilgrims spend the day there, and after the noon prayers, time is specifically devoted to reciting prayers and beseeching Allah.

Once the sun has set, pilgrims make their way to Muzdalifah where they should stay overnight. Once there, they collect the pebbles they will use in the stoning later on; it is recommended to collect 70 pebbles.

Modern-age Hajj: a Muslim pilgrim takes a selfie at the Grand Mosque in Mecca on September 6, 2016. Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters
Modern-age Hajj: a Muslim pilgrim takes a selfie at the Grand Mosque in Mecca on September 6, 2016. Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters

Day 3 — Friday: After praying Fajir, pilgrims head to Al Mash’ar Al Haram (the site of the mosque in Muzdalifah) to recite prayers there. If that is not possible, one recites prayer wherever they are. Pilgrims then move to Mina to stone Jamarat Al Aqabah, by throwing seven pebbles one after the other while saying Allahu Akbar (God is greatest) after each throw. Each pebble should be the size of a fava bean.

After the stoning, the pilgrim’s sacrificial animal should be slaughtered. Then the man should either shave his head or cut his hair, and the woman should cut the length of a fingertip from her hair.

Then pilgrims return to Mecca and do Tawaf Al Ifada and Saai’ between the Safa and the Marwa.

Once that has been done, one should return to Mina for two nights.


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Days 4, 5 and 6 — Saturday, Sunday and Monday: During the fourth and sixth, pilgrims must stone the jamarat when the sun has passed its zenith. Stoning begins at the first jamarah, which is the farthest away from Mecca, with seven pebbles thrown one after the other while saying “Allahu akbar” after each throw.

Then the pilgrim moves to the middle jamarah with seven pebbles in the same manner, and then stones Al Aqabah al Kubra.

Hajj finale:

Before one leaves Mecca to return to his/her country, they must perform The Farewell Tawaf.

Saudi military marches in Mecca ahead of Hajj

Saudi military marches in Mecca ahead of Hajj

Live from the Kaaba

Watch Hajj here via the live stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KG-Z_CyHIwU

To reserve and select your livestock, you can download the following app:

For an instant reminder of what you need to do, you can download the Hajj Guide app.