CREDOS: The Hajj

The Hajj is one of Islam’s five essential pillars. It has been taking place annually without a break for over 1,400 years. This pilgrimage is the ultimate act of worship to Allah. Today as before, every adult Muslim who is physically and financially able to do so is obligated to make this journey once in his or her lifetime. The high point of the annual Hajj is the pilgrimage to the plains of Arafat outside of Mecca, and it takes place on the ninth day of the month of Zul-Hijjah on the Islamic lunar calendar.

On that day, depending on the sighting of the new moon, over 2 million people gather on a desert plain of Arafat outside of Mecca to stand together in prayer before their Creator. Days of feasting follow this. Other rites are held in the days leading up to, and after it.

But performing the Hajj is more than answering a call to duty. Mecca, where the Ka’bah — or symbolic House of Allah is located — marks the direction in which all Muslims pray. It is also the birthplace of The Prophet Muhammad, who defined Islam, and is strongly associated with the lives of Hagar, Abraham, and Ishmael, figures known to every Muslim child. For all these reasons, when the yearly time comes to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, Muslims yearn to go. Where the Hajj is concerned, duty and desire converge.

Pilgrims travel toward Mecca from every corner of the earth. Their routes converge a few miles short of Mecca, at the checkpoints marking the borders of the Sacred Territory. At these rendezvous points, the actual Hajj begins.