1. Hajj is mandatory for every sane, adult Muslim at least once in their life.
The Quran states the obligation of Hajj, or the pilgrimage to Makkah: “And Hajj to the House (Kaba) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who are able” (Q. 3:97). This responsibility falls on every Muslim, male and female, over the age of puberty once they are financially and physically able to make the journey. Hajj is the fifth and final pillar of Islam, following the testimony of faith, prayer, fasting, and giving charity. The requirement is to perform the Hajj one time, but those who are able to can go multiple times.
2. An accepted Hajj = reward of Paradise.
Hajj is known to be a strenuous journey full of sacrifices, both financial and physical. It requires a person to take time off from their schedules, put thousands of dollars down for a travel package, and often leave some loved ones behind as they embark on the pilgrimage. Pair this with visiting a foreign country with unique protocols, intense heat, and massive crowds and you will have a tiny glimpse of what the practical side of Hajj entails. Although all the preparations seem overwhelming, the reward God promises can never really be fully deserved. All the sacrifices and challenges become so minuscule when compared to what lies ahead as a reward for an accepted pilgrimage.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) says in a narration: “An Umrah (minor pilgrimage that can be performed at any time of the year) is an expiation for the sins committed between it and the next, and Hajj which is accepted will receive no other reward than Paradise” (Sahih Muslim).
3. Hajj is an invitation from God.
When an individual makes an intention to go on Hajj, he is often reminded that the opportunity is an invitation from God. The Kaba in Makkah is considered the “House of Allah,” and as such, only those who are welcomed by God Himself are allowed to step foot there. Pilgrims are considered the guests of Allah, and must maintain a very grateful and humble attitude when embarking on their journey. Realistically, invitations can be rescinded at any moment—whether that comes in the form of unapproved visas, canceled or missed flights, or other obstacles. People intending Hajj are advises to continuously supplicate to God to invite them on the journey and allow them to see it completed and accepted.
4. Millions of people from all around the world travel for Hajj.
In 2017, over two million Muslims from around the world traveled to Makkah for Hajj. People from within Saudi Arabia come for the Hajj, as well as from outside continent. Whether by air, land, or sea, millions gather to fulfill this obligation every year. One finds Muslims from Malaysia to their right, Sudan to their left, England behind, India in front, and the list of countries goes on and on. It is quite the scene to take in, witnessing people of all colors, ages, and walks of life coming together for one common goal.
This diversity is an eye-opening moment for many people who come on this journey. Malcolm X famously wrote after completing his Hajj, “There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and non-white.”
5. Hajj entails being at certain places at certain times.
The actual Hajj itself is a series of rites one must fulfill during a certain time and at a certain place. Hajj occurs in the Islamic month of Dhul-Hijjah, the final month of the lunar calendar. As such, it moves up in the Gregorian calendar each year. In 2018, the days of Hajj fall in the middle of August. The Hajj cannot be performed outside of these designated days. Pilgrims will move from one location to the other within Makkah, completing the rites required at each as the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did before. Many of the tasks performed during the pilgrimage are reminiscent of the story of Prophet Ibrahim and his blessed family, indicating the high status they hold in Islam.