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Why do Muslims go on Hajj?

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Introduction

Why do Muslims go on Hajj? The annual pilgrimage to Makkah - the Hajj - is an obligation only for those who are physically and financially able to perform it. Nevertheless, about two million people go to Makkah each year from every corner of the globe providing a unique opportunity for those of different nations to meet one another. Muslims perform Hajj in order to visit for themselves the holy sites where their faith started. The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and it is the duty of every Muslim to go on the Hajj at least once in their life time to follow the footsteps of Muhammad. The Hajj, or pilgrimage to Makkah is a central duty of Islam whose origins date back to the time of Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH). It brings together Muslims of all races and tongues for one of life's most moving spiritual experiences. For 14 centuries, countless millions of Muslims, men and women from all over the world, have made the pilgrimage to Makkah, the birthplace of Islam. In carrying out this obligation, they fulfill one of the five "pillars" of Islam, or central religious duties of the believer. The Pilgrimage Once a year, Muslims of every ethnic group, colour, social status, and culture gather together in Mecca and stand before the Ka'ba praising Allah together. The Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said, "Paradise is the only reward for a pilgrimage accepted by God" It is a ritual that is designed to promote the bonds of Islamic brotherhood and sisterhood by showing that everyone is equal in the eyes of Allah. ...read more.

Middle

Here I am at your service. All praise and blessings belong to you. All dominion is yours and You have no partner. The Arrival Ihram When they arrive at certain points outside Makkah, pilgrims must enter the sacred state known as ihram. They have to make a conscience effort to attain purity, as the pilgrims dedicate themselves to worship, prayer and denial of vanity. Male pilgrims wear two sheets of unsewn white cloth, one wrapped around the waist, the other over the left shoulder. Women wear a plain undecorated ankle-length, long-sleeved garment, leaving only their hands and faces bare. Women can uncover their faces if they normally cover them because no man should look at them with lust at this time. These clothes symbolise three things: 1) equality 2) single-mindedness 3) self-sacrifice. Ihram also reminds Muslims of death, when all 'disguises' of rank, wealth, and appearance are left behind. A prayer called the talbiyah is uttered repeatedly by the pilgrims as they enter Makkah - the answer to the devout call to come. The Circling On arrival in Makkah, the pilgrims go to the Ka'bah and encircle it seven times at a fast pace, running if possible, to symbolise love for God. This is called the tawaf. As they arrive, the pilgrims call out 'Labbaika, Allahumma, Labbaika!' which means 'At Your command, our Lord, at Your command!' - the call of response to the call and dedicate their lives to God. If the pilgrims can get near the Black Stone they will kiss or touch it, but if it is impossible because of the vast numbers, they shout and rise their arms in salute each time they go past. ...read more.

Conclusion

Next, on 10 Dhul-Hijjah, the Feast of Sacrifice begins and the pilgrims all camp at Mina for two to three days of the feast. Every pilgrim must sacrifice an animal. The Saudi authorities now organise the freezing and disposal of the carcasses because with about two million pilgrims it is impossible for the meat to be eaten immediately even if it is shared amongst the poor. After the sacrifice, the men have their heads shaved and women cut off at least 2.5cm of their hair. Ihram ends at this point. The pilgrims then return to Makkah for another encircling of the Ka'bah. The final events are enjoyed in holiday spirits and many go back to Mina for a period of rest and recovery. Pilgrims finally return to Makkah for the farewell. Some take water from Zamzam and dip their white clothes in it. They drink as much water as possible, believing it can cure diseases and they take as much as they can carry back home to heir families. Some are given pieces of the Black Cloth as souvenirs. They are at last entitled to take the name Hajji or Hajjah. Muslim Tourism After the Hajj, most Muslims go to visit Madinah, to pay their respects at the Prophet's tomb. Muslims may see the grave of the prophet himself, and his companions Abu Bakr and Umar, and according to some traditions, a place reserved for Jesus after his second coming. Mount Nur can be visited where the Prophet first saw the angel and Mount Thawr where he sheltered from the Quarish. Other places are the battle sites, and the Masjid at-Taqwa that is the mosque built when the Prophet entered Madinah ...read more.

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