Hadjdj ∼ Hadj ∼ Haj ∼ Umrah
The lifetime obligatory pilgrimage to Mecca
Hajj refers to the annual pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca, the holy city of the Islamic religion. Given that its date is determined by the Islamic lunar calendar where the Islamic year is eleven days shorter than the Gregorian year, Hajj is a movable event in terms of the Gregorian calendar. Consequently, through the years, it falls in all different seasons and months of the year, while every 33 years it is observed twice within one Gregorian year.
An obligatory religious duty for each Muslim
Hajj is considered as one of the five fundamental practices followed by Muslims that are known as the five pillars of Islam. Based on the Islamic tradition, it is an obligatory religious duty and should be carried out at least once per lifetime from each faithful who is physically and financially capable to undertake the journey. The 5-day pilgrimage requires physical and mental strength and signifies a test of faith, similar to the biblical narratives related to Prophet Abraham's life.
The series of the followed rites and customs are a representation of the events of the Prophet’s life and a ritualistic reenactment of the Prophet Mohammad’s pilgrimage to Mecca nearly 1400 years ago. Millions of faithful arrive each year to the holy city with the intention to follow the steps of the founder of Islam (Mohammad) and perform the pilgrimage that promises to bring them closer to God and absolve all their previous sins.
Mecca: A holy city for the Muslim world
Mecca which is located in Saudi Arabia welcomes annually, Muslims from all over the world who attempt to perform the mandatory rituals in a restricted period of time. Numerous challenges and limitations related to security, crowd control and infrastructure are associated with this mega-event. Thus, during the last decades, a series of developments and strategies have been undertaken by the state to ensure the safety of this pilgrimage which is considered a lifetime event for Muslim believers.