al-Baqarah 2:158,189,196-199; al-Hajj 22:27-36.
Pilgramage to Mecca and the fifth pillar of Islam. It is required of every able-bodied Muslim and who can afford it. No non-Muslim is allowed to visit Mecca or witness the hajj. The season begins in the 10th month, the month following Ramadan, and lasts through the middle of the 12th month. Muslims associate the origin of the Hajj and the founding of the Ka'aba with Abraham, who was believed to have built the Ka'aba.
Rituals begin 5 miles from centre of Mecca. No non-Muslims allowed any further. Muslims prepare, bath and does brief salat. Each man puts on two seamless white cloths, one round waist, the other over shoulder. He states his intention (niat): "O Allah, I purpose to make the hajj; make this service easy to me, and accept it from me."
In the Ka'aba, goes round it 7 times, first three quickly (running), the other walking. He performs a brief salat at a point where Muslims believe Abraham and Ishamel rebuilt the Ka'aba. Outside the mosque, prilgrims run between two hills, Safa and Marwa, 400 yards apart, in memory of Hagar running to find water for Ishmael.
On the 7th day of the month (Dhu al-Hajj), he listens to a sermon in the Great Mosque at Mecca, next day he travels east to Mina to spend the night. Most, continue to plain of Arafat, 12 to 14 miles east of Mecca. According to tradition, this is where Adam and Eve met after falling from Paradise. Important thing is to stand (wuquf) on a nearby hill on the afternoon of the 9th day. This is the hajj. Failure to meditate at this particular place means failure to complete the hajj. After sundown, returns to Muzdalifa to perform evening salat, collect some pebbles and spend the night.
On the 10th day, Muslims celebrate 'Id al-Kabir (Greater Feast) or 'Id al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice). The pilgrim continues toward Mecca, stoping at Mina to thro seven small stone at certain stone pillars. This "stoning of the Devil" is in memory of Abraham whom Muslims believe chased away Satan. Nearby is a hill where Muslims believe Abraham prepared to sacrifice Ishmael, and Muslims kills an animal according to his means.
Nails cut, shaved, and returns to normal clothes. Can be addressed as al-haji (or al-haja). Before leaving Arabia, he again goes round Ka'aba, drinks from well of Zamzam (which is believed by Muslims to be opened by Gabriel for Ishmael). Most pilgrims travel 250 miles to Medina to visit the tomb of Muhammad.
Hadith: the true pilgrim : "shall return (from Mecca) as pure from sin as the day on which he was born". Another: "The reward of a pilgrim is paradise" (Mishkat).
see also kissing of black stone, under HAJJ

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