How To Perform Hajj: Essential Steps for Pilgrims

By Halal Trip | 06, Jun, 2024
How To Perform Hajj: Essential Steps for Pilgrims

Hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, is a profound spiritual journey that every Muslim is expected to undertake at least once in their lifetime, provided they have the means. The Hajj is the pinnacle of faith and devotion and is considered the fifth pillar of Islam. The Quran commands pilgrims to undertake this holy journey, which is very spiritually significant and gives them a chance to ask Allah for pardon, consider their religion, and reaffirm their allegiance to Him.

The Hajj ceremonies are a life-changing experience that is full of spiritual and historical significance, along with promises of spiritual restoration and cleansing. Through this article, we will understand more regarding the significance, rituals, and preparations associated with Hajj in understanding this pivotal act of worship and devotion in Islam.

Get more information by visiting our Hajj, Umrah, and Eid Al-Adha dedicated information page and read more Hajj, Umrah, and Eid Al-Adha articles here!

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What is Hajj?the process of tawaf at kaaba

Image Credit: Haydan As-soendawy on Pexels

"And proclaim that the people shall observe Hajj pilgrimage. They will come to you walking or riding on various exhausted (means of transportation). They will come from the farthest locations." [Al-Hajj, 22:27]

“And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Ka’bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who can afford the expenses (for one’s conveyance, provision and residence).” [Ali 'Imran, 3:97]

Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam, and it is compulsory for anyone who has the means (wealth, health, etc.) to perform it at least once in their lifetime. It was prescribed upon Muslims in the year 632 AD and the first Hajj was performed by Prophet Muhammed (S.A.W) and his companions.

“Sound Hajj has no reward except paradise.” [Sahih-al-Bukhari & Sahih-al-Muslim]

Abu Hurairah (RA) narrates that he heard the Prophet (SAW) say,

‘Whoever performs Hajj and does not commit any Rafath (obscenity) or Fusooq (transgression), he returns (free from sin) as the day his mother bore him’”. [Sahih-al-Bukhari]

Some of the rituals of Hajj were influenced by Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and his wife Hajar. When Hajar (RA) was left alone with their son Ismail in the desert of ancient Mecca. When she ran between the two hills of Safa and Marwa in desperation to find water for her infant son, a fountain sprung at his feet. When they had drunk their fill, she cried “Zamzam”, meaning “stop flowing”. Despite her words, it hasn't stopped flowing ever since. Muslims today recreate her actions through Sa'i.

The act of sacrificing an animal during Hajj is also a recreation of the incident that occurred during a later time when Allah instructed Ibrahim (AS) to sacrifice his son in his name Prophet Ibrahim was in a state of extreme despair, torn between following his Lord's commands and losing his only son, whom he loved very much. Ismail (AS) reassured him that he had to follow Allah's commands, but in the final moments, Allah replaced Ismail (AS) with a sheep and revealed that it had been a test of their faith.

On the tenth day of Dhul Hijjah, Muslims all around the world who are not taking part in the pilgrimage of Hajj celebrate Eid Al-Adha and offer sacrifice in the name of God, to be distributed among the poor and needy.


When is Hajj?

Hajj occurs in the 12th month of the Islamic calendar, Dhul Hijjah. It begins on the 8th day of the month and follows on until the 12th and 13th days. Eid Al-Adha (the festival of sacrifice) is celebrated by Muslims all around the world. During the same time, people who are not able to embark on the pilgrimage will be doing Qurban, or the ritual of sacrificing a halal domestic animal such as a camel, goat, sheep, cow, or ram.


Types of Hajj

There are several types of hajj that could be done according to the pilgrims preferences, time availability, and financing, which are:

  1. Hajj Tamattu: Performing Umrah, and then Hajj after some time during the same pilgrimage.
  2. Hajj Ifrad: Performing only Hajj.
  3. Hajj Qiran: Performing Umrah, followed by Hajj immediately afterward.

Here is a brief guide to Islam's annual pilgrimage, how long it takes to perform Hajj, and some important information and useful tips for Hajj and 'Umrah.


Ghusl & Ihramdonning the ihram

Image Credit: rahimgmz from Pixabay

Before donning the Ihram, the pilgrim must take the compulsory bath of Ghusl. Clipping the nails and trimming hair/beard (if necessary) should be done at this stage, as it is not permissible to do so once the ihram is worn until the end of Hajj.

Ihram is a garment that the male pilgrims must wear when they make the intention to make the pilgrimage to Mecca for Hajj or Umrah. It consists of two pieces of white, unstitched cloth; one of them is to be wrapped around the waist, and the other draped over the left shoulder. There is no specific Ihram for women but that they should follow the rules of Islam as they normally do and refrain from wearing perfume.

Umar (RA) narrated that a man asked the Prophet (S.A.W): "What (kinds of clothes) should a Muhrim (a Muslim intending to perform Umrah or Hajj) wear? He replied, ‘He should not wear a shirt, a turban, trousers, a head cloak or garment scented with saffron or Wars (kinds of perfumes). And if he has no slippers, then he can use Khuffs (leather socks) but the socks should be cut short so as to make the ankles bare.’” -[Sahih-al-Bukhari]



While pilgrims are visiting the holy sites to fulfill this holy journey, this does not mean other obligations that are usually done as a Muslim will be lifted or annulled during the process of traveling to the holy sites or during the Ihram process, such as the fard prayer. The fard prayer needs to be completed for whatever time of day it may be if it is pending. Following this, the pilgrims may pray two rakats of sunnah prayer as an act of Ihram.


Dua, Niyyah, & Talbiyajamaah in masjid al-haram

Image Credit: Al Jazeera English on Flickr

Once the pilgrim leaves home, it is best to recite the duas of travel, and then utter the intention (Niyyah) to perform Hajj/Umrah.

  1. For Hajj Tamattu, one must say “Labbaika Allahumma bi Umrah,” meaning “Here I am, Oh Allah, for Umrah.”
  2. For Hajj Ifrad, one must say “Labbaika Allahumma Hajjan”, meaning “Here I am, Oh Allah, for Hajj.”
  3. For Hajj Qiran, one must say “Labbaika Allahumma bi Hajjah wa Umrah”, meaning “Here I am, Oh Allah, for Hajj and Umrah.”

Once the intention has been uttered, the pilgrims can start reciting the Talbiya, which can be repeated all the way through the pilgrimage.



Upon entering the holy mosque of Masjid Al-Haram, the pilgrim must do tawaf and pray 2 rakats. For Hajj Tamattu, Sa'i must be performed immediately following tawaf, but for Hajj Qiran and Ifrad, it may be delayed. Then the pilgrim performing Hajj Tamattu shaves or cuts the hair, completing Umrah. Thus, the state of Ihram is complete; it must later be reinstated for Hajj.


8th of Dhul Hijjahthe process of moving to mina

Image Credit: Aiman titi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On this day, the pilgrim who is performing Hajj Tammatu must again don the Ihram and utter the intention, this time, saying “Labbaik Allahuma Hajjan”, meaning, “Here I am, oh Allah, for Hajj.” During this day, pilgrims travel to Mina, where they will stay from Dhuhr prayers until Fajr the next morning.


9th of Dhul Hijjah

On the second day of Hajj, by the time the sun rises, pilgrims move to Arafat (Jabal ar-Rahmah), where they spend their time making dhikr, dua, seeking sincere forgiveness from Allah, and doing other acts of Ibadah.

When the sun sets, pilgrims then travel to Muzdalifah where they then spend the night.

Before the sun rises, the pilgrims travel back to Mina and stone the Jamarat al-'Aqabah during the early hours of the morning. Each Muslim is prescribed to throw seven stones that are no larger than a pea, saying “Allahu-Akbar” each time.


10th of Dhul Hijjah

Pilgrims complete the sacrifice of an animal, either by themselves or through the agency of another person (which is what is most common in this era). While a cow or camel can be shared among six pilgrims, a sheep is slaughtered by just one Muslim.

The final step of Hajj on the 10th day of Dhul Hijjah is to shave one's hair or trim it. Women are ordered to cut the length of their hair by the length of the fingertip. But shaving the hair is more preferred for men, as Prophet Muhammed (SAW) said:

“May Allah’s Mercy be upon those who shaved their heads”. [Sahih-Al-Bukhari, Sahih-Al-Muslim]

Following the stoning of Jamarat al-'Aqabah and shaving/trimming the hair, this phase of Hajj is said to be complete and the state of Ihram is lifted. All else becomes permissible except sexual intercourse with one's spouse. The pilgrims then goes back to Mecca (Makkah), where they will need to do the tawaf and Sa'i.

“Verily! As-Safa and Al-Marwah (two mountains in Makkah) are of the Symbols of Allah. So it is not a sin on him who performs Hajj or Umrah (pilgrimage) of the House (the Kabah at Makkah) to perform the going (Tawaf) between them (As-Safa and Al-Marwah). And whoever does good voluntarily, then verily, Allah is All-Recognizer, All-Knower.” [Al Baqarah, 2:158]


11th, 12th & 13th of Dhul Hijjah

The pilgrim then returns to Mina and spends three days of Tashreeq here. During each day, they return to Jamarat al-'Aqabah during Dhuhr and throws seven stones at each of the three pillars or “Jamarat”, praising Allah by saying “Allahu Akbar” each time.

The pilgrim leaves Mina and travels back to Mecca on the 13th day of Dhul-Hijjah. He may also leave on the 12th if he wishes, but if he stays past the sunset, he must stay until Dhuhr the next day and stone the pillars before leaving.


Farewell Tawaf or Tawaf Al-Wada

To end the Hajj, a final tawaf needs to be done by every pilgrim. Tawaf al-Wada is the tawaf that is to be performed by Muslims when they leave the holy city of Mecca, and may only be done after the Hajj has been completed and before leaving the holy city of Makkah. After fulfilling this tawaf, you may no longer fulfill even the lesser pilgrimage (Umrah) without repeating and redoing the whole process (including leaving the holy city of Makkah).

“The Farewell Tawaf is required of the one who has come to perform Hajj before he leaves Makkah, because Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The people were commanded that the last thing they do should do is to circumambulate the House, but an exception was made for menstruating women.” [Narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim]


Pilgrimage to Medinavisiting masjid al nabawi

Image Credit: Dinar Aulia on Pixabay

Although a visit to the Prophet's mosque or Masjid Al-Nabawi in Medina is not obligatory, it is highly recommended that one do so. For Muslims, visiting Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina following Hajj is a profoundly significant and spiritually uplifting event. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself built this mosque, which is regarded as the second-holiest place in Islam after the Kaaba in Mecca. It is a location of great spiritual and historical significance where Muslims can strengthen their ties to the Prophet and the early Islamic era. Masjid al-Nabawi's exquisite design and tranquil environment make it a special place for introspection, prayer, and finding serenity.

The Prophet's grave, which is housed within the mosque, is one of the primary reasons pilgrims come to Masjid al-Nabawi. Usually, visitors to the mosque believe that paying respect and visiting the Prophet (PBUH) is a sign of love and devotion. The mosque's spiritual importance is further enhanced by the fact that it is home to the tombs of two of the Prophet's closest associates, Abu Bakar and Umar. Being so close to the last resting place of these respected persons enhances the faith and understanding of history for many pilgrims.

Offering prayers in Masjid al-Nabawi is regarded as extremely pious. Prayers offered at this mosque, with the exception of Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, would reap rewards tenfold to thousand times more than elsewhere. This idea motivates pilgrims to offer as many prayers within the mosque as they can, resulting in a more fulfilling spiritual experience. 


A Few Other Useful Tips for Hajj

We get that every Muslim is excited to fulfill their Hajj whenever they are able to fulfill them, however, there are several things that Muslims need to prepare and understand before embarking on this great journey.

  1. As most Muslims making the pilgrimage for Hajj come from overseas, it is important to make sure that all the necessary visa, hotel, and travel arrangements before leaving.
  2. Make sure you have all legal matters taken care of, and carry extra copies of important documents.
  3. Go to classes or lectures about Hajj to learn as much as possible about how to perform the rituals and to gain other knowledge before leaving your home country.
  4. Take any medication that you might need along, especially if you have any pre-existing conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.
  5. Hajj is a physically demanding ordeal that includes walking for long distances in the hot sun in heavily crowded areas, which is just for starters. So it's a good idea to get some exercise, eat healthily, and get a medical checkup before you for the pilgrimage.
  6. Pack and wear comfortable clothes and footwear. As we mentioned, you will have to walk for extended periods of time in the hot sun.
  7. Carry plenty of water, and have an emergency supply of food (energy bars, etc.)
  8. Carry a mini Qur'an and dua book with you. It is better to have these memorized but it's helpful if you have them.
  9. It's best to leave small children at home if you have someone that can take care of them. They will not understand the importance of this time and will find it hard; and you will have less time doing acts of ibadah.
  10. Make sure you know where your miqaat is, as this is the place where you will be entering into ihram.
  11. And last but not least, be a good Muslim and a good human. Be patient and considerate of your fellow Muslims and be understanding.

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