Monday, January 18, 2010

En Route to Mecca - Rites and Rituals


Umrah is a lesser Hajj. It has fewer rites and can be done at any time of the year. The five rites are performed only in the Masjid Al-Haram.

Niyyah (intention)

Entering the state of Ihram and declaring the intention to perform Umrah at certain place (miqat) outside the Haram precincts.

Stepping into the Masjid Al-Haram while reciting the talbiyah and supplicating to Allah.

At the first sight of the Ka’bah, it is recommended to proclaim Allahu Akbar and the Shahadah as well as bestowing Praise upon the Prophet Muhammad (bpuh).


Circumambulation of the Ka’bah seven times, starting with the Hajar Al-Aswad (Black Stone) corner. Touching the Hajar Al-Aswad, or just pointing towards it, marks the starting of tawaf.

Wudu’ (ablution) is essential for tawaf.

The pilgrim’s left shoulder should face the Ka’bah, making the movement anti-clockwise.

Male pilgrims should bare their right shoulder only during the tawaf, an act known as ittiba’.

After finishing the seventh circle, the two rakaat nafl prayers are offered behind the Maqam Ibrahim (Station of Ibrahim).


Striding between two hills of Safa and Marwah seven times.

Starting with Safa, the pilgrims are encouraged to climb up the hill until they can see the Ka’bah. After this they offer the do’a and recite dhikr.

The seventh trip ends at Marwah.

Tahallul by halq or taqsir

Shaving and cutting hair should be done right after Saie.

Shaving the whole head is preferable for men but forbidden for women.

Cutting a minimum of three strands of hair is sufficient for women.

By doing this, the restrictions of Ihram are lifted from the pilgrims.

Tartib (in sequence)

Umrah is complete only if the rites are performed in sequence.


As with the other four pillars of Islam, hajj is an obligation that should be performed in specific ways. There are three forms; Hajj Ifrad, Hajj Qiran and Hajj Tamattu’. The most highly regarded of these is Hajj Tamattu’, as performed by the Prophet Muhammad (bpuh). The rites are performed not solely in the Masjid Al-Haram but also in its vicinity: Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafah. The first two locations are inside the Haram precincts whilst the latter is outside. The time for entering the state of Ihram and declaring he intention of performing Hajj depends on the type of Hajj that is to be performed. Listed below are the simplified steps.

Day 1
8th Zulhijjah

Preparation for the Hajj ritual begins

In readiness for Ihram, pilgrims are encouraged to comb their hair, cut their nails and trim their beard and moustache.

Ablutions as preparation for Ihram.

Wearing two seamless white garments for men and ordinary cloth in prayer for women.

Men are not allowed to cover their head for the duration of Ihram.

Performing two rakaat nafl prayers for Ihram.

Saying the niyyah (intention) for Hajj.

Uttering the words of talbiyah.

From this point of time, the prohibitions of Ihram start.

After sunrise, pilgrims proceed towards Mina.

At mina, Zuhr, Asar, Maghrib and Isya’ prayers are performed. Camping overnight.

Day 2
9th Zulhijjah

Fajar prayer. Proceed to Arafah for Wukuf which starts with the lowering of the sun and continues before the sunrise of the next day.

It is best to spend the time within this duration engaged in do’a, Quranic recitation and other types of ibadah.

Zuhr and Asar prayers at Namirah mosque. It is recommended to combine and shorten both prayers. Listening to the sermon of Arafah.

After sunset, the next destination is Muzdalifah, where Magrib and Isya’ prayers are offered.

Collecting of 49 pebbles if the intention is to engage in the stoning of the Jamarat for three days or 70 pebbles if it is for four days.

Camping overnight.Return to Mina after Subh prayer.

Day 3
10th Zulhijjah

Stoning Jamarat Al-Aqabah in Mina with seven pebbles.

Sacrificing animals; either the pilgrims do this themselves or ask others to perform this duty on their behalf. Designated days for sacrifice are prolonged to the 13th Zulhijjah.

Tahallul – by shaving or cutting the hair. Women are not permitted to shave the entire head; to cust three strands of hair is sufficient. With that, the prohibitions of Ihram are lifted

Stoning, sacrificing and shaving or cutting the hair should be done in sequence, otherwise dam (atonement) is required as a penalty.

Back to Masjid Al-Haram to perform tawaf, al-ziarah and saei.

Return to Mina. Camping overnight.

Muslims around the world celebrate Eid Al-Adha on this day.

Day 4
11th Zulhijjah

Throwing pebbles at Jamarat Al-Ula, Al-Wista and Al-Aqabah.

For those who cannot make the tawaf al-ziarah on the 10th Zulhijjah, it is advisable to do so on this day and return to Mina to camp overnight.

Day 5 & 6
12th and 13th Zulhijjah

Stoning the three Jamarat with seven pebbles.

The last opportunity for tawaf al-ziarah.

There is an option for the pilgrims to leave for Mecca, unless the time of departure is after sunset, in which case they have to remain in Mina for a third night and resume with the stoning of Jamarat in the same order.

Whenever the pilgrims intend to return home of visit other places such as Medina, there is an obligation to perform tawaf al-wada’ (farewell tawaf).

Visiting the Masjid Al-Nabawi in Medina is not part of Hajj or Umrah rites. However, it is strongly recommended. As reported by Al-Baihaqi, the Prophet Muhammad (bpuh) said: “The person who performs Hajj and then visits my tomb, will be regarded as though he had seen me in my worldly life.”

Extracted from the book: En Route to Mecca – Pilgrims’ Voices Throughout the Centuries

Publisher: Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia

(This book is published in conjunction with the En Route to Mecca: Pilgrims’ Voices Throughout the Centuries exhibition, launched in October 2009.)

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