Hajj Rituals: Essential,Obligatory and Sunnah

Hajj – it i a dream of every Muslim man or woman to perform the holy pilgrimage, to set their eyes upon the Kaaba and make repentance of their sins. However, most of us are unaware about Hajj Rituals – the “how to” part of it. Once you have knowledge of this, you can perfect your Ibaadah in Hajj and make the most of it. In this article, we’ll divide the Hajj rituals into four parts – the essentials, the obligatory and the Sunnah. The essential parts of Hajj are four, the obligatory actions are seven and everything other than the essential parts and obligatory actions is Sunnah.

hajj rituals

Essentials: Hajj Rituals

The essential parts of Hajj are four: 

  • Entering ihram. This is part of your intention to start the rituals of Hajj, because of the hadith: “Actions are but by intentions.” 
  • Standing in ‘Arafah, because of the hadith: “Hajj is ‘Arafah.” 
  • Tawaaf az-ziyaarah (also called tawaaf al-ifaadah), because Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): “…and [let them] circumambulate the Ancient House (the Ka‘bah at Makkah)”
    [al-Hajj 22:29]. 
  • Sa‘i, because of the hadith: “Do sa‘i, because Allah has ordained sa‘i for you.” Narrated by Ahmad. 

Obligatory acts: Hajj Rituals

The obligatory parts of Hajj are seven in number. Without any one of these, the Hajj is considered incomplete. 

  • Entering ihram at the appropriate miqaat, i.e., one should enter ihram from the miqaat. As for ihram itself, it is an essential part of Hajj. 
  • Standing in ‘Arafah until sunset, for the one who reaches there by day. 
  • Staying overnight in Mina during the days of at-Tashreeq (the 11th, 12th and 13th of Dhu’l-Hijjah), except for those whose job is to bring water and tend livestock. 
  • Staying overnight in Muzdalifah until after halfway through the night, for those who reach it before that time, except for those whose job is to bring water and tend livestock.
  • Stoning the Jamaraat in the right sequence. 
  • Shaving the head or cutting the hair. 
  • Farewell tawaaf. 

[If the pilgrim is doing tamattu‘ (‘umrah followed by Hajj, exiting ihram in between) or qiraan (‘umrah followed by Hajj without exiting ihram in between), then he must offer a sacrifice (by slaughtering a sheep), because Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): “whosoever performs the ‘Umrah in the months of Hajj, before (performing) the Hajj, (i.e. Hajj-at-Tamattu‘ and Al-Qiran), he must slaughter a Hady such as he can afford, but if he cannot afford it, he should observe Saum (fasts) three days during the Hajj and seven days after his return (to his home), making ten days in all. This is for him whose family is not present at Al-Masjid-al-Haram (i.e. non-resident of Makkah)” [al-Baqarah 2:196]]. 

Sunnahs of Hajj

The rest of the actions and words of Hajj are Sunnah. There is no sin or problem in acceptance of Hajj if you don’t do them. However, since it is a practice of the Prophet (peace be upon him), it is highly recommended that you perform them. These include tawaaf al-qudoom, staying overnight in Mina the night before ‘Arafah, idtibaa‘, walking at a rapid pace [when doing so is recommended], kissing the Black Stone, reciting the adhkaar and du‘aa’s, and climbing as-Safa and al-Marwah. 

The difference between an essential part, an obligatory action and a Sunnah action is that Hajj is not valid without an essential part, whereas if an obligatory act is omitted, Hajj is still valid, but the one who omits it must offer a compensatory sacrifice (a sheep), according to the majority of scholars. As for Sunnah actions, the one who omits them does not have to do anything.

Also Read: 9 deeds which carry the same reward as Hajj

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