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Hajj And Umrah, Hajj Pilgrimage And History

Hajj and Umrah are pilgrimages to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, taken up by the Muslims. Hajj forms the fifth pillar of Islam, which a Muslim is supposed to undertake at least once in his life time, while Umrah is considered a minor pilgrimage that can be taken up at any point in time.

 

Hajj unlike Umrah, occurs in the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah, between 8th to 12th. The exact date of Hajj pilgrimage is unpredictable as the Islamic calender happens to be eleven days shorter that the Georgian calender. Arrival in Mecca for worship is termed as Hajj.

History

Hajj pilgrimage stretches into antiquity, even before the times of Prophet Muhammad in the 7th Century. It is believed that performing Hajj pilgrimage dates back to the times of Ibrahim, somewhere around 2000 BCE.

The legend associated with the Hajj states, Ibrahim leaving his wife and son in a desert on account of God's order, his child Ishmael crying of thirst and his wife running desperately back and forth to fetch water.

It is believed that the baby cried and hit its foot on the ground, due to which water emerged miraculously. Another version of the history has it that angel Gabriel scrapped his feather on the ground, due to which water sprang up to quench the child's thirst. This source of water is called today as Zamzam.

 

It is also believed that in earlier days, tribes around the Arabian Peninsula and Christian Arabs also undertook pilgrimage to Mecca. It is said that owing to the beliefs of the numerous tribes who converged in Mecca, there were hundreds of idols on the Kaaba (the cube shaped building which is supposed to be the Muslim direction of prayer) which was cleared by Prophet Muhammad.

In 631 CE, Prophet Muhammad performed his first Hajj pilgrimage with his followers, where he cleared the place off the idols and reinstated the Muslim belief. It was since then that Hajj pilgrimage came to be the fifth pillar of Islam. It was the first and last Hajj pilgrimage that Muhammad undertook. However, it is said that he had undertaken a lot of Umrah.

There are numerous Hajj ritualsassociated with Hajj pilgrimage, the performance of which makes the mission complete or valid. A ll the rituals are associated with the story of Ibrahim and his family who won the Lord's mercy owing to their complete trust in Him.

Read more about: islam festivals priya devi r
Story first published: Monday, November 15, 2010, 13:02 [IST]
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