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The Hajj (/hædʒ/; Arabic: حَجّ Ḥaǧǧ "pilgrimage") is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest city for Muslims, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their family during their absence. Literally speaking, Hajj means heading to a place for the sake of visiting. In Islamic terminology, Hajj is a pilgrimage made to Kaaba, the ‘House of God’, in the sacred city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The rites of Hajj, which go back to the time of Prophet Abraham who built Kaaba after it had been first built by Prophet Adam, are performed over five or six days, beginning on the eighth and ending on the thirteenth day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar.It is one of the five pillars of Islam, alongside Shahadah, Salat, Zakat and Sawm. The Hajj is the second largest annual gathering of Muslims in the world. The state of being physically and financially capable of performing the Hajj is called istita'ah, and a Muslim who fulfils this condition is called a mustati. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God (Allah). The word Hajj means "to intend a journey", which connotes both the outward act of a journey and the inward act of intentions.
The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th (or in some cases 13th) of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar. Because the Islamic calendar is lunar and the Islamic year is about eleven days shorter than the Gregorian year, the Gregorian date of Hajj changes from year to year. Ihram is the name given to the special spiritual state in which pilgrims wear two white sheets of seamless cloth and abstain from certain actions.
The Hajj (sometimes spelt Hadj or Haj also in English) is associated with the life of Islamic prophet Muhammad from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time of Abraham. During Hajj, 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: each person walks counter-clockwise seven times around the Kaaba (the cube-shaped building and the direction of prayer for the Muslims), runs back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwah, drinks from the Zamzam Well, goes to the plains of Mount Arafat to stand in vigil, spends a night in the plain of Muzdalifa, and performs symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing stones at three pillars. The pilgrims then shave their heads, perform a ritual of animal sacrifice, and celebrate the three-day global festival of Eid al-Adha.
Pilgrims can also go to Mecca to perform the rituals at other times of the year. This is sometimes called the "lesser pilgrimage", or ‘Umrah (Arabic: عُـمـرَة). However, even if they choose to perform the Umrah, they are still obligated to perform the Hajj at some other point in their lifetime if they have the means to do so, because Umrah is not a substitute for Hajj.
3 Timing of Hajj
4.2 First day of Hajj: 8th Dhu al-Hijjah
4.3 Tawaf and sa'ay
4.4 Second day: 9th Dhu al-Hijjah
4.5 Third day: 10th Dhu al-Hijjah
4.6 Fourth day: 11th Dhu al-Hijjah
4.7 Fifth day: 12th Dhu al-Hijjah
4.8 Last day at Mina: 13th Dhu al-Hijjah
4.9 Journey to Medina
5 Arrangement and facilities
5.1 Visa requirements
7 Modern crowd-control problems
9 Hajj and the Saudi economy
10 Number of pilgrims per year
12 Differences between the Hajj and Umrah
13 Hajj Badal
15 See also
18 Further reading
19 External links
The word in Arabic: حج [ħædʒ, ħæɡ] comes from the Hebrew: חג ḥag [χaɡ], which means "holiday", from the triliteral Semitic root ח-ג-ג. The meaning of the verb is "to circle, to go around". Judaism uses circumambulation in the Hakafot ritual during Hoshanah Rabbah at the end of the Festival of Sukkot and on Simchat Torah; traditionally, Jewish brides circumambulate their grooms during the wedding ceremony under the chuppah. From this custom, the root was borrowed for the familiar meaning of holiday, celebration and festivity. In the Temple, every festival would bring a sacrificial feast. Similarly in Islam, the person who commits the Hajj to Mecca has to turn around the Kaaba and to offer sacrifices.
Main article: History of Hajj
A 1907 image of the Great Mosque of Mecca with people praying t