Thursday, 4 June 2015

The Islamic Hajji Rituals


October 13 will correspond with the 8th day of Dhul-hijja, 1434 A.H. It is the day on which all Muslims who went to Mecca for pilgrimage are supposed to verbally declare their intentions for hajj rituals that will occupy them for at least six days. This intension is declared after cleansing the body from any impurities and clipping of the nails.
Male pilgrims put on two pieces of white cloth that symbolises Ihraam (sanctity) covering the upper and lower parts of the body. The females do the same but remain in their normal clothes that cover all body parts excluding the face and palms. The intention is declared in Mecca for pilgrims who perform a type of hajj called Al-Tamattu’ (relaxed) that almost all Uganda’s pilgrims perform.
In the same state, pilgrims begin to proclaim a vital phrase that is normally termed as the theme of hajj that goes; “Labbayk, Allahumma Labbayk, Labbayk, La Shareeka laka labbayk, Innal-hamda wan-ni’mata laka wal-mulk, La shareeka lak” which means, “Here I am O Allah, (in response to Your call), here I am. Here I am, You have no partner, here I am. Verily all praise, grace and sovereignty belong to You. You have no partner.”
Prohibitions in the state of sanctity
Having declared the intention of hajj, pilgrims are subjected to a number of prohibitions that include wearing of sewn clothes for men, cutting or plucking hair from any body part, clipping of the nails, covering the head, wearing of perfume and engagement in sexual intercourse. In this state, pilgrims are also not allowed to enter into a marriage contract, hunt, or cut down trees in the sacred zone of Mecca. Such prohibitions among others are aimed at instilling the principles of obedience, patience and strict following of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
Proceeding to Mina
On the 8th of Dhul-Hijja (October 13, 2013), pilgrims proceed to Mina, a sanctuary about 12 kilometres from Makkah with portable foodstuffs, drinks, simple mats, umbrellas, and other simple personal belongings. This year, Uganda’s pilgrims paid Usd200 for feeding and accommodation while in this area. It is a plain with air conditioned tents, and a complex road network that confuses even those who have been to it several times.
The Saudi government placed police units equipped with fire brigades and ambulances for emergencies that might occur due to the big numbers. Pilgrims spend here about 12 hours and proceed to Arafah. While here, pilgrims conduct obligatory prayers, listen to spiritual talks and recite the Talbiyah (the theme of hajj).
9th of Dhu’l-Hijjah (October 14, 2013): the Day of Arafah
After performing the dawn (Fajr) prayer at Mina or after midnight, pilgrims will leave for Arafah. It is a distance of 9 kilometres that can be covered within 15-20 minutes on road. However, railway transport which has been fixed recently has shortened this distance. Scholars of Islamic jurisprudence consider being in the valley of Arafah on this day as the gist of hajj. Upon arriving, pilgrims look for tents for which they were allocated and rest until noon. Being a great spiritual day, many Muslims endeavour to donate a lot of foods and drinks to pilgrims.
The King of Saudi Arabia, Abdallah Ibn Abdulaziz too, donates a special package of snacks that is distributed throughout the day. Pilgrims conduct Dhuhur and Asr prayers combined at 12:30 p.m. and listen to sermons delivered by the agreed upon sheikhs. From afternoon onwards, pilgrims stand outside their tents and begin to seek for Allah’s forgiveness, repent to Him, ask for numerous needs of this world and hereafter until sunset.
For Muslims who did not go for hajj, fasting on this day and engagement in supplications and other acts of worship are highly recommended. Fasting on this day is said to be a reason for forgiveness of sins for two years (present and previous).
9th – 10th of Dhul-Hijjah (October 14-15, 2013): Moving to Muzdalifah
From Arafah, pilgrims move to Muzdalifah (sacred place about 5-7 kilometres from Arafah). Here, they pray after sunset and later make Isha prayers together and rest for the first hours of the night. They then wake up early to conduct the dawn prayer and supplicate until sunrise. Muslim scholars unanimously agree that after sunset, women and the elderly are permitted to leave Muzdalifah after midnight and proceed to Mina or Mecca.
Staying in Muzdalifah will be under the open sky with bathing and toilet facilities. Pilgrims leave this place early morning, having picked pebbles that they will need for the “stoning” ceremony (ramy) on the 10th day (Eid-Adhuha day).
10th of Dhul-Hijjah (October 15, 2013): Stoning of Jamarat ul Kubra at Mina
This is a hectic day for pilgrims. They move from Muzdalifah to Mina and use the seven picked pebbles to stone the biggest pillar (Jamaratul-Kubra) that is in the direction of Mecca, while saying; Bismillah Allahu Akbar (In the name of Allah, Allah is the greatest). This pillar symbolises the devil that wanted to derail Prophet Ibrahim from fulfilling his promise of sacrificing his son Ismael. The stoning must be performed according to pre-determined schedules sanctioned by the hajj ministry. This is followed by the sacrifice and the shaving/cutting of hair (Halq/Taqseer).After the stoning of the devil, a sacrifice is required. This is an animal slaughtered in commemoration of Prophet Ibrahim who was determined to sacrifice his son, Ismael. Uganda’s pilgrims paid between Usd120 and Usd140) for this service and the Saudi Government through the Islamic Development Bank slaughter for them.
The meat is donated to poor people of the developing nations. Some Ugandan pilgrims go to slaughter houses in Mina to slaughter their animals and enjoy the meat as well. The ritual of sacrifice is done on 10th, 11th, 12th , and 13th of Dhul-Hijja in Mina and the world over.
The pilgrims may now shower, shave, and change into normal clothes. The prohibitions imposed are now removed, except that you must not have sexual relations. (Husband and wife may not enjoy conjugal relations until after Tawaf al-Ifadha - the Circumambulation of the Kaabah, central to the Hajj rites.)
The pilgrims return to the Holy City of Mecca to circumambulate the Kaabah(the holy house of Allah) seven times on 10th of Dhul-Hijja. This is an essential pillar of hajj that is followed by performance of two units of prayer in the direction of Maqaam Ibrahim (footprint of Prophet Ibrahim). The pilgrims are encouraged to take some Zamzam water after these two units. Another essential element of hajj that is done immediately after these two units is the movement between the two hillocks of Safa and Marwah. It is done seven times while praising Allah or supplicating to Him as it is done in the circumambulation around the holy house. The two hillocks are within the sacred Mosque of Makkah. Each prayer conducted within it is multiplied by 100,000 times

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