Hajj: A Guide on the Muslim Pilgrimage

As one of the five pillars of Islam, Hajj is the Islamic Pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah. It is mandatory for Muslims who are financially and physically able to make the journey. But what is the significance and meaning of Hajj?
by Muslim.Sg 2024-06-03 • 37 min read
Muslim.Sg is a Muslim lifestyle platform that aims to deepen your understanding of faith, in collaboration with the Asatizah Youth Network (AYN). We are part of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis).
2024-06-03 • 37 min read

This article was written by the Muslim.Sg editorial team (Alia Abdullah, Ustaz Mateen Hisham and Nuratika Ramli). 

What is Hajj and Why Is It Important?

Muslim pilgrims on Hajj pilgrimage in Makkah, pilgrim, hajj

Just as the name suggests, Zulhijjah, meaning the month of pilgrimage, is the concluding month of the Islamic calendar where pilgrims from all over the world would flock together, leaving behind their daily commitments, standing side by side in unity and humbly submitting in awe before His divine commands to perform the Hajj.

Read: 4 Intriguing Things You May Not Know About the Islamic Hijri Calendar

Hajj is Made Obligatory for Every Able-Bodied Muslim

Like the sunset gracefully ending the day, a worshipper observing the Hajj would have concluded the year beautifully after performing all the five integral acts of worship (rukun) in Islam that was set throughout the Islamic year calendar, i.e. the daily Solat and Syahadah (testimony of faith), the obligatory fast in the month of Ramadan and the annual pay of Zakat.

These five rukun, also known as pillars of Islam are mentioned in a hadith by Prophet Muhammad s.a.w:

بُنِيَ الإسْلَامُ علَى خَمْسٍ: شَهَادَةِ أنْ لا إلَهَ إلَّا اللَّهُ وأنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسولُ اللَّهِ، وإقَامِ الصَّلَاةِ، وإيتَاءِ الزَّكَاةِ، والحَجِّ، وصَوْمِ رَمَضَانَ

“Islam is built upon five: to testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, to establish prayer, to give Zakat, to perform Hajj, and to fast the month of Ramadan.”

(Sahih Al-Bukhari)

Each of these acts of worship is unique, such that it bears distinct significance and rewards. Unlike the other four rukun, Hajj is made obligatory at least once in a person’s lifetime. The Quran tells us that Hajj is not made responsible for everyone but only for those who are able-bodied. Allah s.w.t. says in Surah Ali-’Imran:

وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ حِجُّ ٱلْبَيْتِ مَنِ ٱسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا

“Pilgrimage to this House is an obligation by Allah upon whoever is able among the people.”

(Surah Ali-’Imran, 3:97)

Who are those who are able in the context of Hajj?

Firstly, physical ability is fundamental. The pilgrimage to Makkah is a demanding endeavour that requires considerable stamina and resilience. Pilgrims must be able to endure long periods of walking, standing, and various physical rites such as the Tawaf (circumambulation of the Ka'bah), Sa’i (walking between the hills of Safa and Marwah), and to remain (wuquf) at Arafah. Therefore, it is important that one is in good health, free from illnesses or conditions that would prevent the completion of these rituals.

Equally significant is financial capability. This means they must have enough money to pay for the entire trip, including travel, lodging, and food. Additionally, they need to ensure their family at home has enough money to live comfortably during their absence. This ensures that the family does not face any financial difficulties during the pilgrim's absence.

Beyond these primary considerations, the concept of financial ability also encompasses the need to settle any outstanding debts. A prospective pilgrim should be free from financial obligations that could cause harm or difficulty to creditors. This principle underscores the ethical imperative of ensuring that one's spiritual journey does not come at the expense of justice and fairness to others.

Another important factor is to have the necessary permissions and documentation required for travel, including logistical arrangements, such as visas and transport so that the journey can proceed smoothly without legal or bureaucratic impediments.

With so many people around the world, Hajj quotas are developed to ensure safe passage to as many pilgrims as possible. Conversely, however, not everyone will be able to perform it. But fret not—the individual will not be made responsible due to the absence of means to perform the Hajj, as mentioned above.

In essence, the readiness for Hajj, as defined by being 'able-bodied', is a holistic criterion. It calls for a blend of physical health, financial stability, familial responsibility, and ethical preparedness. This comprehensive readiness ensures that the pilgrim can perform the Hajj with a focused mind and a pure heart, fulfilling one of the most profound expressions of Islamic faith and obedience.

Hajj pilgrims at Arafah

It is important to remember that those who cannot perform the Hajj due to valid reasons are in no way considered deficient in their faith or practice. Instead, their sincere intentions and adherence to the spirit of Islamic teachings are deeply recognised and cherished. Allah s.w.t, in His infinite mercy and compassion, knows the struggles and limitations each believer faces.

For those who yearn to undertake this sacred journey but are held back by physical frailty, financial constraints, or other insurmountable obstacles, their deep longing and heartfelt intention to perform the Hajj are valued as well.

In fact, non-pilgrims are not entirely excluded from the Hajj season. Muslims who are not performing Hajj can engage in various acts of worship and piety to partake in the immense blessings of this sacred period in the first 10 days of Zulhijjah. It is encouraged to increase our prayers, fasting, charity, and the recitation of the Quran. Fasting on the day of Arafah, in particular, is highly recommended, as it is said to expiate the sins of the previous year and the coming year.

Read: What is the Day of Arafah?

Engaging in zikir (remembrance of Allah), making dua (supplication), and performing extra voluntary prayers are also meritorious. These acts of devotion allow Muslims around the world to spiritually connect with our brothers and sisters who are doing Hajj and draw closer to Allah during this blessed time.

Read: Virtues of the First 10 Days of Zulhijjah

Preparation for Hajj

The preparation for Hajj should not only be in the minds of those who are called up to be included in the yearly quota. It should be an intention for every Muslim. An ideal for the hopeful. May Allah s.w.t. grant us all the means to perform Hajj one day, amin.

So, what kind of preparations are needed to perform the Hajj?

1. Maintain Your Health:

To be an abled Muslim, we should take care of our overall well-being. This includes both our mental and physical health. Ensure the food we eat adds nutritional value to ourselves and not just for the sake of our appetite.

Read: Halalan Tayyiban: More Than Just Halal

Take care of our mental health by spending beneficial time with our families and friends, avoid spending too much time on social media, and seek professional help if in need. Mental health is not a taboo issue nor is it something to be taken lightly of.

Read: Preserving the Intellect in the Digital Age: Challenges and Recommendations

2. Be Financially Ready:

There are various models and ways we can find out how to manage our finances. Our religion discourages us from having poor wealth management. Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. who led a simple life, emphasised the dangers of wasting our wealth. In a hadith, the Prophet s.a.w. said:

لاَ يُحِبُّ الله إِضَاعَةَ الْمَالِ وَكَثْرَةَ السُّؤَالِ ولاَ قِيلَ ولاَ قَالَ

“Allah does not like for you to waste wealth, nor ask many unnecessary questions, nor spread gossip.”

(Musnad Al-Bazzar)

Read: 3 Tips Islam Teaches Us To Manage Money Wisely

3. Make Sincere Repentance:

In many scholarly works about Hajj, our scholars would remind us of the importance of repentance. Before making our trip to the holy lands and performing our duties, we should first try our best to seek Allah’s forgiveness, mend our ways and correct what is needed. This involves apologising to people who we have wronged and returning their rights.

The objective of Hajj is to seek Allah’s pleasure, and repentance is the first step in threading that path.

Read: Repentance in Islam

Muslims seeking repentance in Islam

Furthermore, it can also be said that repentance is also a means to open the doors of provision (rizq). Allah s.w.t. Himself says in the Quran:

وَيَـٰقَوْمِ ٱسْتَغْفِرُوا۟ رَبَّكُمْ ثُمَّ تُوبُوٓا۟ إِلَيْهِ يُرْسِلِ ٱلسَّمَآءَ عَلَيْكُم مِّدْرَارًا وَيَزِدْكُمْ قُوَّةً إِلَىٰ قُوَّتِكُمْ وَلَا تَتَوَلَّوْا۟ مُجْرِمِينَ

“And O my people! Seek your Lord’s forgiveness and turn to Him in repentance. He will shower you with rain in abundance, and add strength to your strength. So do not turn away, persisting in wickedness.”

(Surah Hud, 11:52)

The Benefits of Hajj

Allah s.w.t. says in the Quran:

وَأَذِّن فِى ٱلنَّاسِ بِٱلْحَجِّ يَأْتُوكَ رِجَالًا وَعَلَىٰ كُلِّ ضَامِرٍ يَأْتِينَ مِن كُلِّ فَجٍّ عَمِيقٍ. لِّيَشْهَدُوا۟ مَنَـٰفِعَ لَهُمْ وَيَذْكُرُوا۟ ٱسْمَ ٱللَّهِ فِىٓ أَيَّامٍ مَّعْلُومَـٰتٍ عَلَىٰ مَا رَزَقَهُم مِّن بَهِيمَةِ ٱلْأَنْعَـٰمِ ۖ فَكُلُوا۟ مِنْهَا وَأَطْعِمُوا۟ ٱلْبَآئِسَ ٱلْفَقِيرَ

“Call people to the pilgrimage. They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel from every distant path. so they may obtain the benefits (in-store) for them, and pronounce the Name of Allah on appointed days over the sacrificial animals He has provided for them. So eat from their meat and feed the desperately poor.”

(Surah Al-Hajj, 22:27-28)

In these two verses, Allah s.w.t. promises for the pilgrims to experience benefits in performing the Hajj. But what are these benefits?

The scholar of Tafsir (Quranic exegesis), Ibn ‘Asyur clarified the fact that the benefits are not particularly mentioned tells us the abundance and greatness of it. In other words, it is not limited to any specific benefits.

Ibn ‘Abbas r.a. explains that the benefits of Hajj involve both this world and the Hereafter1. Hajj is indeed a physically demanding act of worship, which also involves steps that some of us may not be able to rationalise yet, such as walking back and forth during the sa’i or throwing stones during the jamarat. In truth, there are significance and benefits in each of these steps, which we will discuss later in this article.

Hajj pilgrism at Arafah

The Quranic verse mentioned above promises Muslims, who go out of the comfort of their residence just to earnestly seek Allah’s pleasure in performing the Hajj, to witness these ‘benefits’, even if they may not be able to see it now.

Nevertheless, there are some benefits or rewards of Hajj which are specifically mentioned in our tradition. The following are some rewards of Hajj as mentioned by Prophet Muhammad s.a.w:

1. Return With the Purity of a Newborn Child

مَنْ حَجَّ هَذَا الْبَيْتَ فَلَمْ يَرْفُثْ وَلَمْ يَفْسُقْ رَجَعَ كَمَا وَلَدَتْهُ أُمُّهُ

“Whoever performs Hajj to this house without having intimate relations or committing sin, then he will return pure of sin like the day he was born from his mother.”

(Sahih Al-Bukhari)

2. Enter Paradise

الْعُمْرَةُ إِلَى الْعُمْرَةِ كَفَّارَةٌ لِمَا بَيْنَهُمَا وَالْحَجُّ الْمَبْرُورُ لَيْسَ لَهُ جَزَاءٌ إِلَّا الْجَنَّةُ

“From one ‘Umrah to another ‘Umrah is the expiation of sins committed between them, and the accepted Hajj has no reward other than Paradise.”

(Sahih Al-Bukhari)

Steps of The Hajj

The infographic below shows the main practices of the majority of Singaporean pilgrims:

Steps of Hajj, Main practices based on the majority of Singaporean pilgrims

1. Arrival: Pilgrims enter the state of Ihram and set their intention for Hajj.
2. They enter Makkah and perform tawaf around the Kaabah.
3. Perform sa'i between the hills of Safa and Marwa. As most Singaporeans do Hajj tamattu', no. 2 & 3 is the observance of Umrah.
4. 8 Zulhijjah (Day of Tarwiyah): Many pilgrims move to Mina, where they will stay overnight.
5. 9 Zulhijjah (Day of Arafah): They depart from Mina in the early morning and spend wuquf in Arafah. This rite is considered as one of the core pillars of Hajj. This is the day and place where pilgrims spend the entire day invoking supplications and prayers upon Allah s.w.t.
6. The same day after Maghrib, pilgrims depart from Arafah for Muzadalifah to spend the night.
7. 10 Zulhijjah (Aidiladha): Pilgrims depart from Muzdalifah to Mina, to perform the ritual pelting of Jamaratul-Aqabah, followed by the first tahallul (exit ihram) and the korban.
8. 11, 12 & 13 Zulhijjah (Days of Tasyriq): Pilgrims perform the ritual pelting of Jamarat again in Mina.
9. Pilgrims return to Masjidil Haram to perform tawaf ifadhah and sa'i. They will then trim their hair and perform the second tahallul to complete the Hajj ritual.
10. Pilgrims perform the farewell tawaf (wada')

Route of Hajj

Route of Hajj

1. Pilgrims performing the Hajj tamattu' will begin their rites by performing Umrah at Masjidil Haram
2. Upon completing the Umrah, they may stay at the city of Makkah or head over to the Mina Camp to spend overnight
3. Pilgrims move to Arafah on the following day
4. Overnight (mabit) at Muzdalifah
5. Pelting of the Jamarat near Mina
6. Return to Masjidil Haram for tawaf ifadhah and sa'i

Significances of Hajj Rituals

It is clear that Hajj is an obligation for the abled Muslim. Beyond it being an obligatory act of worship, Hajj can also be seen as a school or process to cultivate the overall well-being of the individual, particularly in the person’s ethical and spiritual development.

Read: The Significance and Merits of Adab

All the steps and ritual acts of Hajj are, in fact, a form of regimen or practice to cultivate discipline and a strong sense of obedience to fulfil Allah’s commands.[2]


The Talbiyah is recited by Muslims during the Hajj pilgrimage, and it is a declaration of our submission and devotion to Allah s.w.t. The words of the Talbiyah are:

لَبَّيْكَ اللَّهُمَّ لَبَّيْكَ، لَبَّيْكَ لاَ شَرِيكَ لَكَ لَبَّيْكَ، إِنَّ الْحَمْدَ، وَالنِّعْمَةَ، لَكَ وَالْمُلْكَ، لاَ شَرِيكَ لَكَ

Labbayk-Allahumma labbayk. Labbayka la sharika laka labbayk. Innal-hamda wa-n-ni'mata, laka wal-mulk, la sharika lak.

Which translates to:

“I am at Your service, O our Lord, I am at Your service, I am at Your service, there is no god but Allah, I am at Your service. All praises, favours, and sovereignty belong to you, there is no associate with You.”

Here are some significances of Talbiyah:

1. Response to Divine Call

The talbiyah is an expression of the pilgrim's response to the divine call to Hajj. In the spiritual context, it signifies an inner awakening and readiness to embark on a sacred journey towards Allah. The repeated declaration "I am at Your service" symbolises the pilgrim's eager and willing submission to the will of Allah.

Labbayka Allahumma labbayk Here I am, O Allah, here I am

2. Oneness of Allah

By affirming, "You have no partner," the talbiyah emphasises the core Islamic belief in Allah's oneness (Tawhid). This declaration transcends mere verbal affirmation and becomes a deeply internalised recognition of Allah's singular and absolute reality. This acknowledgement purifies the heart from associating any partners with Allah, aligning the soul towards The Divine.

3. Humility and Servitude

One of the objectives of repeating the talbiyah throughout the Hajj is to invoke a deeper sense of humility and servanthood. By praising our Lord and recognising our true value as His servants, we align the true meaning of our existence with clarity. One can even imagine the magnitude of the talbiyah being proclaimed by millions in the same place, with their hearts united for the same objective.

4. Praise and Gratitude

The Talbiyah's mention of praise, grace, and dominion being solely Allah's fosters a profound sense of gratitude and humility. Islam teaches that recognising Allah's bounties and expressing gratitude is crucial for spiritual elevation. The pilgrim, through these words, acknowledges that all blessings come from Allah and are an expression of His mercy and generosity.

5. State of Ihsan

Ihsan, or spiritual excellence, is about worshipping Allah as if one sees Him, and although one does not see Him, knowing that He sees you. Reciting the talbiyah with a heart full of love and presence brings the pilgrim into a state of Ihsan. It transforms the act of pilgrimage from a physical journey to a deeply spiritual experience where the pilgrim feels the closeness and omnipresence of Allah.

6. Detachment from Worldly Concerns

As pilgrims recite the talbiyah, they symbolically detach from the material world and its distractions. The act of chanting these words repeatedly helps to focus the mind and heart on the spiritual goals of Hajj. As we recite "laka wal-mulk" (All Sovereignty belongs to You), we realise and recognise that everything in the domain of existence belongs to Him. There is no value in merely attaching ourselves to the material world without intending to be with The Owner as an objective. This detachment is a step towards achieving inner peace and spiritual clarity.

7. Unity in Diversity

During Hajj, millions of Muslims from diverse backgrounds recite the talbiyah at the same place with their hearts united together for the same objective. This collective declaration fosters a sense of universal connection and unity among Muslims. This unity is a reflection of the greater unity of all creation in the divine. The talbiyah, therefore, becomes a means to experience and affirm this profound interconnectedness.


Ihram is to enter into a sacred state of ritual and spiritual consecration for the entire journey of Hajj. Derived from the Arabic word 'haruma', meaning forbidden, it signifies a transition from the default state to the state of sacredness, where the person is forbidden to participate in certain activities that were permissible by default.

For example, the person in ihram is forbidden to participate in wearing perfumes, cutting their hair and nails, wearing their normal t-shirts, cutting off trees, slaughtering animals for food, entering into a marriage or engaging in marital intimacy, just to name a few. By renouncing these mundane activities, the pilgrim redirects their focus towards spiritual excellence. Thus, ihram signifies the pilgrim's commitment to enter into a sacred state of purity and devotion.

Clothed in two simple, seamless white garments for men and modest clothes for women, the pilgrim relinquishes worldly adornments and distinctions, symbolising universal equality and humility before the Divine. Ihram attire reflects the essence of simplicity and detachment from material concerns, fostering a state of inner reflection and spiritual submission.

Hajj pilgrims in Ihram in prayers and supplications.Hajj pilgrims in a state of Ihram.

The significance of ihram lies not only in its outward observance but in its profound spiritual symbolism. It represents a sacred threshold, a passage from the mundane to the sacred, where the pilgrim sheds the burdens of worldly existence to approach the Divine in a state of purity and humility. Through the rituals of ihram, the pilgrim embarks upon a transformative journey of self-discovery and spiritual renewal, seeking to attain complete submission and closeness to the Divine.


Arafah is the name of a hill or a mountain as commonly referred to (jabal 'arafat). According to Ibn ‘Asyur, Arafah refers to the plains of the entire area, which are enclosed by hills. Allah s.w.t. mentions this location in the Quran:

لَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَن تَبْتَغُوا۟ فَضْلًا مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ ۚ فَإِذَآ أَفَضْتُم مِّنْ عَرَفَـٰتٍ فَٱذْكُرُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ عِندَ ٱلْمَشْعَرِ ٱلْحَرَامِ ۖ وَٱذْكُرُوهُ كَمَا هَدَىٰكُمْ وَإِن كُنتُم مِّن قَبْلِهِۦ لَمِنَ ٱلضَّآلِّينَ

“There is no blame on you for seeking the bounty of your Lord (during this journey). When you return from Arafah, praise Allah near the sacred place (Muzdalifah), and praise Him for having guided you, for surely before this (guidance) you were astray.”

(Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:198)

Pilgrims spend the day in Arafah on the ninth of Zulhijjah to make invocations to Allah s.w.t. as much as possible. Although only pilgrims will be present on the plains of Arafah, this merit is also achievable for non-pilgrims as well. In a hadith, our Prophet s.a.w. said:

خَيْرُ الدُّعَاءِ دُعَاءُ يَوْمِ عَرَفَةَ

“The best supplication is that which is made on the day of Arafah.”

(Sunan At-Tirmizi)

Read: What to Do on the Day of Arafah

Pilgrims making dua at Arafah during Hajj. Pilgrims making dua at Arafah during Hajj.

The day of Arafah is the pinnacle of Hajj and the best of the first 10 days of Zulhijjah. In fact, it is argued to be the best day of the year in our Islamic calendar. We often talk about the nobility of laylatul-qadr as the best of all nights and yet, we often overlook the significance of the day of Arafah.

Arafah was also said to be the place where humanity once met and professed to Allah of his Divinity. Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said in a hadith:

أَخَذَ اللهُ الْمِيثَاقَ مِنْ ظَهْرِ آدَمَ بِنَعْمَانَ يَعْنِي عَرَفَةَ فَأَخْرَجَ مِنْ صُلْبِهِ كُلَّ ذُرِّيَّةٍ ذَرَأَهَا فَنَثَرَهُمْ بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ كَالذَّرِّ ثُمَّ كَلَّمَهُمْ قِبَلًا قَالَ أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ قَالُوا بَلَى شَهِدْنَا أَنْ تَقُولُوا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّا كُنَّا عَنْ هَذَا غَافِلِينَ

“Allah took the covenant from the loins of Adam at Arafah, bringing forth from his backbone every seed that he would sow. He scattered them before him, and then He spoke to them as they stood before Him, saying: Am I not your Lord? They said: Of course, we bear witness. Lest you say on the Day of Resurrection: We were unaware of this.”

(Musnad Ahmad)

In this regard, Arafah is a place where the servant meets the Creator, recollecting the covenant they once made with Allah s.w.t. and trying their best to fulfil it.

There are various other opinions on the etymology of Arafah. Imam Ibn Kathir narrates the views of scholars, some tracing back to Ali Ibn Abi Talib r.a:

“Allah sends Jibril a.s. to Ibrahim, where the angel showed the Prophet how to perform the Hajj. When they arrived at Arafah, Ibrahim said, ‘I know (‘araftu) this place’. He had been there before. And so the place was called Arafah”

Read: What is the Day of Arafah?


The ritual act of pelting stone pebbles (ramyul-jamarat) can be derived from the story of Prophet Ibrahim a.s. who had just been revealed in his dream to slaughter his son. Even if it was a revelation, it was indeed a great sacrifice for him. Furthermore, according to some scholars such as Imam Ibn Kathir, Prophet Ibrahim was childless until the age of 86.[3] He had waited so long for the opportunity to have a child.

Read: The Value of Sacrifice in Islam

Hajj pilgrims walking towards Jamarat to perform the ritual act of pelting stone pebbles. Hajj pilgrims walking towards Jamarat to perform the ritual act of pelting stone pebbles.

On his way to meet his son, he was confronted by the devil at Jamaratul-Aqabah, who tried to confuse him and abandon the revelation he was set upon. The Angel Jibril a.s. informed him to throw the stone pebbles at the devil. Prophet Ibrahim a.s. threw seven pebbles until the devil disappeared.

After Jamaratul-Aqabah[4], Prophet Ibrahim continued to walk, and the situation occurred again at Jamaratul-Wusto and finally at Jamaratul-Sughra / Ula, where the devil finally disappeared for good. This story was based on a hadith narrated by Ibn Khuzaimah and Al-Hakim[5].

Even in such a situation, Prophet Ibrahim a.s. remained patient and resolute in fulfilling Allah’s commands. In the end, Allah s.w.t. revealed to Prophet Ibrahim a.s. the command to sacrifice a ram instead of his son, thus describing the entire episode as a test that Prophet Ibrahim has indeed successfully passed. Allah s.w.t. continues to praise Prophet Ibrahim a.s. in the following verses.

إِنَّ هَـٰذَا لَهُوَ ٱلْبَلَـٰٓؤُا۟ ٱلْمُبِينُ. وَفَدَيْنَـٰهُ بِذِبْحٍ عَظِيمٍ. وَتَرَكْنَا عَلَيْهِ فِى ٱلْـَٔاخِرِينَ. سَلَـٰمٌ عَلَىٰٓ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ. إِنَّهُۥ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

“That was truly a revealing test. And We ransomed his son with a great sacrifice, and blessed Abraham (with honourable mention) among later generations: ‘Peace be upon Abraham.’ This is how We reward the good-doers. He was truly one of Our faithful servants.”

Read: Powerful Conversations Between A Father and A Son: Lessons from Prophet Ibrahim a.s and Prophet Ismail a.s. 

The ritual of stoning the pillars signifies the rejection of evil and temptation. It embodies the internal struggle against nafs (the ego or lower self) and worldly distractions, striving to uphold righteousness and be close to Allah s.w.t.

Part of Hajj involves the Jamarat - ritual act of stoning the pillars signifies rejection of evil and temptation.Hajj pilgrims performing the Jamarat, ritual act of stoning the pillars.


The act of tawaf or circumambulating around the sacred house, the Ka’bah, seven times is one of the integral (rukun) steps of Hajj. In such a state, the tawaf carries the worshipper to the angelic experience of worship, likening to the Angels who are constantly worshipping and circumambulating at the lowest heavens, also known as Al-Baytil-Ma’mur (the realm of the Angels), where most of their kind resides in.

Just as the Ka’bah remains in the centre of the entire ritual of tawaf, it reminds us that Allah s.w.t. is at the centre of our lives. In other words, our daily commitments, struggles, experience, joy, ambitions, and matters that are beyond our control, all revolve around Him. And thus, the tawaf motivates our mind, heart and body to align with the flow, finding true balance and equilibrium.

Hajj pilgrims facing the Kaabah for prayers.Pilgrims facing the Ka'bah for prayers.

The sunnah of istilam[6] is the act of kissing the hajar aswad (black stone) or raising our hands gesturing towards it, if we’re further away from the stone, at the start of each round of tawaf. Istilam reminds us of our covenant with Allah s.w.t. when we pledged our servanthood and proclaimed Him to be our one and only God, as explained in the experience of Arafah above.

With every round of istilam, the heart strengthens the resolution to fulfil the covenant. It was narrated that Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said in a hadith:

مَن فَاوَضَ الحجرَ الأَسْوَد فَكَأَنَّمَا يُفاوِضُ يَدَ الرَّحمَن

“Whoever honours the black stone, it is as if he is honouring the Hand of the Merciful (Allah sw.t.)”

(Sunan Ibn Majah)


Sa’i is the act of going back and forth seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwah. This ritual act can be traced back to the story of Sayyidatina Hajar a.s. who displayed fortitude and hope in seeking water for her son.

Even when she was alone in the middle of the desert with no one else to support her and her child, she knew that ultimately Allah s.w.t. will protect and guide her. Thus, Hajar a.s. offered her best effort in whatever circumstances she was in. As a result, Allah s.w.t. granted Hajar a.s. and her young son a well-sourced water, the Zamzam.

Hajj pilgrims performing Sa'i between the hills of Safa and Marwah.Hajj pilgrims performing Sa'i between the hills of Safa and Marwah located within Masjidil Haram.

This ritual act reminds us of the importance of having the qualities of fortitude and hope in seeking Allah’s pleasure. Just like how Hajar a.s. was running back and forth in desperation to look for the water, the servant’s state of being in need (iftiqar) for Allah in their lives is especially important. Allah s.w.t. loves the servant who seeks Him. The Quran reminds us:

فَفِرُّوٓا۟ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ

“So flee to Allah!”

(Surah Adh-Dhariyat, 51:50)

Read: Hajar and the Significance of Her Sacrifice and Perseverance

Every pilgrim performing the Hajj would know more of its magnitude. When even some permissible things are not permitted in the sacred state of Ihram, it prompts the person to be even more vigilant against transgressions throughout the whole journey of Hajj.

Through these steps (manasik) involving not just the required movements but also the overall experience of witnessing sacred places such as Makkah, Mina, Arafah, and Muzdalifah, it allows the pilgrim to absorb the lessons and significance even better.

Perhaps through this momentous journey, we’ll be able to learn more about ourselves, discover spiritual enlightenment and know Allah s.w.t. better.

May Allah s.w.t. grant ease, facilitation and acceptance for the pilgrims and may Allah grant us to perform the Hajj one day. Amin

Read: The True Meaning of Hari Raya Haji


[1] Tafsir Ibn Kathir

[2] As-Sayyid Muhammad ‘Alawi Al-Maliki, Hajj: Its Virtues and Rulings, King Fahad National Library, Makkah Al-Mukarramah

[3] Tafsir Ibn Kathir

[4] Ibn Kathir, Stories of the Prophets (Qasasul-Anbiya’), Al-Hayah Bookstore, Beirut, Lebanon, 1988, (pg. 158)

[5] The first and biggest of the three pillars signifying the point or direction for the pebbles to be thrown at.

[6] Placing the hands on the black stone and kissing it if one is able to get near it, or alternatively gesturing the black stone from afar.


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