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Discuss the significance and conduct of the hajj within Islam with reference to appropriate examples.

I aim to discuss the significance and conduct of the Hajj within Islam, I aim to show this by firstly explaining what the Hajj is and how the Hajj is viewed by all Muslims. I will also explain why the Hajj is carried out, the feelings this leaves a Muslim with who is carrying out the Hajj, what is carried out at the Hajj and who carries out the actions.

The Hajj is the pilgrimage that a Muslim makes, the pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia. A Muslim is expected to make the Hajj at least once in their lifetime, it is expensive not all can afford to make the Hajj. The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. The pillars of Islam are the basic duties which should be followed, fulfilled and implied into a Muslims life, some apply on a daily basis whilst others are applied to a Muslims life at different points throughout the year or their lifetime.

The Hajj takes place over 5-6 days. Starting on the day you arrive in Mecca, where you chant the prayers in Arabic, pilgrims run between the hills of Marwa and Sa’fa, this represents Hagar’s search for water for her son Ismail and drinking from the Zam Zam well. This is deemed as the most holy water. The next day is spent travelling to Mina and preparing for the following days. The third day is spent travelling to the Plain of Arafat, this is known as the Day of Arafat. On what is known as the ‘Day of Arafat’, the pilgrims spend the entire day standing (or sitting) near the Mount of Mercy, asking Allah for forgiveness and making supplications. Muslims around the world who are not at the pilgrimage join them in spirit by fasting for the day. After sunset pilgrims travel to Muzdalifah, they spend the night praying and collecting small pebbles. The following day pilgrims throw the stones they have collected at a pillar that represents Satan. After this the pilgrims sacrifice a sheep or goat and give the meat away to the poor. Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice, on this day. On this day men shave the heads and women have a lock of hair cut off. The following day which is the last day the pilgrims travel back to Mecca and complete prayers which include circling the Ka’Bah 7 times, this is known as the seven tawafs or circumambulations.

Muslim pray at least 5 times a day, when praying they face a wall in the direction of the Ka’bah. The Ka’bah is the cube shaped shrine in Mecca. The Ka’Bah is in the central Mosque in Mecca.

The Hajj to Mecca is carried out in the twelfth Month of the Muslim calendar, whilst on the Hajj Muslims must carry out a number of rituals over the time they are on their pilgrimage. Each Muslim should carry out the Hajj at least once in their lifetime. The Hajj is carried out at a great expense to an individual and not all Muslims can perform the Hajj. The Hajj is made at great expense to an individual, not just the cost but the time, effort and also the sacrifice and hardship that is made to afford the trip to Mecca.

The Hajj is a celebration of the brotherhood and sisterhood of every Muslim, during the Hajj all Muslims are seen as equal in the eyes of Allah. “It is a ritual that is designed to promote the bonds of Islamic brotherhood and sisterhood by showing that everyone is equal in the eyes of Allah. The Hajj makes Muslims feel real importance of life here on earth, and the afterlife, by stripping away all markers of social status, wealth, and pride. In the Hajj all are truly equal.” www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/practices/hajj_1.shtml

The Hajj for some Muslims is carried out for a number of reasons’, one reason may be a learning experience. It gives Muslims an insight in how the Muslim way of life is carried out. “Thus, for most of us, the hajj came as a culture shock. It was our first experience of the fully fledged Muslim way of life, and many of us were unprepared.” Herbert, D, 2005 P25

The Hajj is...
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