What Is Haj

Haj is the fifth pillar of Islam, an obligation that must be carried out at least once in theirlifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so. It is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world. The Hajj is associated with the life of Muhammad, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back to the time of Ibrahim and Isma'il, prominent figures in both Islam and in Judaism. Pilgrims join processions of hundreds of thousands of people, who simultaneously converge on Mecca for the week of the Hajj, and perform a series of rituals. It is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to Allah.

Hajj is compulsory once in a lifetime for those who have the means for it. Allah, the Exalted, says:    "And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Ka'bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who can afford the expenses (for one's conveyance, provision and residence); and whoever disbelieves [i.e., denies Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah), then he is a disbeliever of Allah], then Allah stands not in need of any of the "Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists)." (3:97)The person who want do Haj, he must be financially sound enough to be able not only to bear all of his expenses for Hajj but also to provide adequately for his dependents during his absence and until his return.

Hajj was made obligatory in the 9th year of Hijra. The Holy Prophet sent off 300 Muslims under the leadership of Hazrat Abubakr Siddique (may Allah be pleased with him) to Mecca so that they could perform Hajj. The following year, 10th Hijra, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) announced a head of time he himself would perform Hajj that year. He led tens of thousands of Muslims to Hajj that year and demonstrated to Muslims how to perform all the rites and rituals of the Hajj. This Hajj is known in history as Hajjatul Wida' or Farewell Pilgrimage because this proved to be the last Hajj the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) performed. At the end of this farewell pilgrimage, the divine revelation that had started some 22 years ago came to an end with the following verse of Surah Al-Maidah: