This year, the final pillar of Islam known as Hajj began on August 20 in the 1,439 year of the Hijiri—Islamic—calendar. The five pillars of Islam are religious obligations required of practicing Muslims. The four other pillars are: the shahada, or declaration of faith; salah, the five daily prayers; zakat, almsgiving for the needy; and sawm, fasting during Ramadan. Saudi Arabian census figures put the number of pilgrims making the journey at 2,371,675. Here is a short description of the rites of Hajj.
Miqat is the outer boundary of Mecca, of which there are several points of entry
including Al-Juhfah, Qarn Ul Manaazil, Yalamlam, Dhaatu Irq and Dhul Hulaifah. At this point, pilgrims enter a state of ihram, where men and women dawn simple white garments, which consists of two pieces of white cloth for men and a dress and head covering that shows the face and hands for women.
2. Mecca – Masjid al-Haram and the Kaaba
Mecca is regarded as the holiest city in Islam and is home to the largest mosque in the
world, Masjid al-Haram. Masjid al-Haram is home to the Kaaba, which is regarded as the Bayt Allah, or House of God. Upon arrival, pilgrims circle the Kaaba seven times, a ritual known as Tawaf.
After performing Tawaf, pilgrims spend the night at Mina, the largest tent city in the world.
On the second day of Hajj, pilgrims come to Mount Arafat for prayer and reflection. This is the most important day of Hajj, and the pilgrimage is not valid without the day at Arafat.
Following the day at Arafat, pilgrims arrive at Muzdalifah to spend the night below the stars. Stones and pebbles are also collected for the next rite.
6. Plain of Mina – Stoning of the Devil
On the third day, pilgrims leave Muzdalifah and return to Mina to perform Ramy al-Jamarat, the act of throwing seven stones at columns representing the devil.
7. Mecca – Tawaf and Saii
After performing Ramy, pilgrims return to the Masjid al-Haram to perform a second Tawaf around the Kaaba. Additionally, pilgrims will walk seven times between the two hills Safa and Marwa, a ritual known as Saii.
Pilgrims return to Mina for the next two–three nights where they will perform Ramy again on each day.
9. Mecca – Final Tawaf
To complete the Hajj, pilgrims return once again to the Masjid al-Haram to perform a final Tawaf around the Kaaba, however many Muslims also choose to visit Medina, the second holiest city in Islam.