Hajj is an important pillar of Islam. But how much do you know about it?
Well, here are our top Hajj facts (in no particular order) to share with you everything you need to know about Hajj!
View of the Ka’aba
1. Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam
An Islamic duty, undertaking Hajj is the fifth pillar in Islam. In the Holy Qur’an, Allah (SWT) commands us to visit Makkah and complete it – in fact, there’s a whole Surah (chapter) in the Qur’an named after it!
In this Chapter, Allah (SWT) tells us:
“We designated for Abraham the site of the House, [saying], ‘Do not associate anything with Me and purify My House for those who perform Tawaf and those who stand [in prayer] and those who bow and prostrate.’
And proclaim to the people the Hajj [pilgrimage]; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass –
That they may witness benefits for themselves and mention the name of Allah on known days over what He has provided for them of [sacrificial] animals… Then let them… fulfil their vows and perform Tawaf around the ancient House.’
That [has been commanded], and whoever honours the sacred ordinances of Allah – it is best for him in the sight of his Lord…” (22:26-30)
May we all be able to undertake Hajj, insha’Allah!
2. It’s much older than 1,500 years!
The holy city of Makkah
Most of us tend to think of the first pilgrimage as the hijrah (migration) by Prophet Muhammad (SAW) from Makkah to Madinah on 4th Dhul al-Qi’dah in 7AH (629 CE).
However, the origins of Hajj actually date much further back. The rituals of Hajj, in fact, go back to 2,000 BCE!
If we think of the rites involved in Hajj: running between Safa and Marwa to replicate Hajar’s journey in search of water, then it’s actually a lot older!
The Ka’aba itself also dates back much earlier than 629CE. First of all, Prophet Ibrahim built a monument on the site of the Ka’aba and worshippers from a variety of faiths used to come and visit the site. Mount Arafah was where Ibrahim prepared to sacrifice his son.
In 630CE, Prophet Muhammad then led the first official Hajj here when he led a group of worshippers to the Ka’aba in 630CE and destroyed the idols inside the Ka’aba, proclaiming it a site in the name of Allah (SWT).
They retraced Hajar’s journey between Safa and Marwa, the stoning of the devil (where Prophet Ibrahim was tempted to defy Allah but ultimately obeyed him). Mount Arafah was then where Prophet Mohammed also made his last sermon.
In his life, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) performed Hajj once. Since then, the tradition has carried on. Subhan’Allah, such history!
3. Hajj is always on the 8th – 12th Dhul Hijjah
Pilgrims praying around the Ka’aba
Hajj takes place during the month of Dhul Hijjah – which translates to “The Month of the Pilgrimage”.
In line with the Islamic calendar, Hajj takes places during the same period of the lunar calendar each year. This, of course, means that this will vary according to the date in the Gregorian calendar each year.
This year Dhul Hijjah will run from 22nd July to 19th August.
Dhul Hijjah is a very important month. Not only is it the last month of the Islamic year, but during this period as we ma Hajj, we also celebrate Eid Al-Adha – the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim (SAW).
During this time, we offer Qurbani to the poor and prepare for the new Islamic year ahead.
For those who are not going on Hajj, the important fasting day of Arafah also takes place on 9th Dhul Hijjah, offering a chance for our sins to be forgiven by Allah (SWT).
4. Over 2.5 million people a year go on Hajj!
Pilgrims in ihram (clothing for Hajj)
We all know how popular Hajj is, but how many people go each year?
Well, according to Saudi government figures for 2019, a staggering 2.5 million undertook Hajj! Subhan’Allah…
With around three times as many international pilgrims (1.9 million), compared to Saudi-residents (Saudi and non-Saudi) (634K), you may be intrigued to find out that the highest single nationality of non-Saudi pilgrims was in fact Egyptian!
Alhamdulillah, pilgrims come from all over the world with most non-Saudi pilgrims travelling from Asian (non-Arab) countries (59%). However, with a whopping 35,355 pilgrims in 2019, the biggest group of non-Saudi nationals is Egyptians, with almost 36% of non-Saudi pilgrims from Egypt.
Other nationalities with high numbers include: Pakistan (12%), Yemen (10%), India (9.8%), Sudan (5.8%) and Bangladesh (4.3%).
We’re definitely a global Ummah, alhamdulillah!
Once you’ve performed Hajj, you’re known as a Hajji (Hajjah for women). However, did you know that this name is also given as a sign of respect for elders in the Arabic-speaking world? Well, you do now!
5. Almost 351,000 staff manage Hajj
Pilgrims on the way to Makkah
With so many people coming to Makkah to perform Hajj, there’s obviously a lot of staff and services needed to accommodate people.
Well, in 2019, over 350,000 staff and volunteers were responsible for providing Hajj-related services. This included:
- Health care
- Communication services
- Supervision services
Right from booking your Hajj with a specialised travel agent, to passing through immigration control and heading back home, your Hajj requires a whole range of services.
It’s a big trip and requires a lot of help! Subhan’Allah…
Subhan’Allah, it’s such a special time. Find out more about Hajj below!