Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Hajj Glossary

Things to know about the Hajj and holy cities.

The Muslim pilgrimage to Makkah takes place on 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 Zulhijjah, in the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar year. All Muslims are expected to make at least one hajj during their lifetime, if they can afford it and are healthy. The cost of performing the hajj today is approximately RM9,500.00. The often italicised English word hajj (spelled with double j) comes from Arabic al-Ḽaj (the Great Pilgrimage). A Muslim who has been to Makkah as a hajj pilgrim and successfully performed the hajj rite is known as a Haji (if male) or Hajah or Hajjah (if female). A female pilgrim is called the general call name Siti Rahmah before the hajj and the general call name Hajjah after the hajj. There are 3 ways for performing the hajj - Haji Qiran, Haji Tamatuk and Haji Ifrad. The Umrah is a lesser Hajj.

Umrah means ziarah or visitation. The visitor comes to Makkah for 10-14 days. The purpose for coming is to visit the Kaabah, circumambulate it (tawaf) and perform the sa'ie. It is called the lesser hajj since it is performed just like the big hajj but there is no camping out on the Plains of Arafah, no need to stay a while (mabit) or pick up pebbles in Muzdalifah, no need to camp in Mina and no need to stone the three devils' pillars in Mina. The visitor also visits Madinah to visit the Prophet's mosque and tomb (Makam Nabi). The umrah  is simpler to observe and can be completed during a day's course or performed repeatedly in a day and as many times as a person is able to. There is no limit as to how many times a person can do umrah.

Ihram is the set of garments that pilgrims wear to perform their hajj rites or umrah. For males, the ihram is 2 large pieces of white terry towels or similar. For safety, the men wear a strong green belt to hold the bottom piece so it won't drop. For females, the ihram is their usual prayer garments or telekung. Extra care is taken to properly cover the aurat, including the arms, legs and hair edge. The aurat is body parts which must not be left exposed for the opposite sex to view or enjoy.

The hajj is performed in the city of Makkah and nearby localities. The correct spelling is Makkah and not Mecca. Its esteemed name is Makkatul Mukarramah, the blessed city. Makkah is the holy city for Muslims. Non Muslims are not allowed to come into Makkah. A big signboard outside Makkah directs visitors away from Makkah. Makkah is an ancient city where the Prophet of Islam, Nabi Muhammad SAW was born. Not far away from the Prophet's birthplace is the grand mosque, Masjidil Haram as-Sharif. The Kaabah is inside Masjidil Haram.

Madinah was called Yathrib in ancient times. It has 2 other names. The correct spelling is Madinah and not Medina. Its esteemed name is Madinatul Munawwarah, the enlightened city. The Prophet left Makkah to re-settle in Madinah. This relocation from Makkah to Madinah is referred to as the hijrah. Jews who occupied early Madinah were requested to leave and they re-settled elsewhere. Madinah became the second holy city for Muslims.

The hijrah marks the Prophet's relocation from Makkah to Madinah. The people who moved from Makkah were called the Muhajirin (the migrants); the people in Madinah who welcomed the newcomers from Makkah were called the Ansar (the welcomers). The initial relocation marked the first Hijrah (1 Hijrah). The 10th year after the initial hijrah is 10 Hijrah, The Hijrah thus became the Islamic calendar system which is dissimilar to the Gregorian calendar system.  The Hijrah calendar is a lunar calendar system (with 354 days) while the Gregorian calendar system is a solar calendar system (with 365 days). The days and nights are determined by sunrise and sunset. The lunar months of the Hijrah calendar are based on the movements of the moon (lunar) which are more precise compared to the Gregorian months which are based on the earth's positions relative to the sun throughout the year. It should be known that we cannot use the inexact movements of the sun to note the seasons; the moon movements are exact and are therefore preferred for working out the months, as stated in the Quran. The fasting dates and times for the month of Ramadan, the date of wukuf (hajj) and the celebrations of the Eid and Adha are all based on the lunar calendar system - they cannot be determined from the solar calendar system.

Masjidil Haram
There are two grand mosques, one in Makkah and the other in Madinah. The grand mosque in Makkah is the Masjidil Haram. Its esteemed name is Masjidil Haram as-Sharif. It is also referred to as the Haramain, the forbidden. Marble slabs cover the floor, columns and stairs. It has 100 doors or babs and each door has a number. The main doors also have a name each. Bab-as-Salam (pronounced Babus Salam) is one of the main doors. The doors are gigantic and heavy. The grand mosque undergoes constant expansion. The prayer spaces are marked with concentric rings to indicate where pilgrims must stand for prayers. This creates perfect rings of humans in prayer we often see in photos taken of the grand mosque. The imam stands on the side in front of the Kaabah door, on the first floor.

Masjid Nabawi
The grand mosque in Madinah is Masjid Nabawi or Masjid Nabi. This is a single-storey mosque when viewed above ground. There are separate prayer spaces for men and women. It also has many gigantic doors with names, eg Bab an-Nisa (Babun Nisa) is for women. The Prophet is interred in his own home which is now inside the grand mosque. His grave is marked with a green dome. Pilgrims come to pay a visit to the Prophet's grave in what is known as ziarah (ziyarah) or visitation. Ziarah is performed before or after the hajj. Supplications (doa) and Selawat are read when visiting the Prophet's grave. With each Selawat that is read, Allah SWT removes 10 sins from the reader.

Baitul Lahil Haram or Baitullah or Ka'abah as we know it today. The Ka'abah is a cuboid that sits in the centre of the grand mosque in Makkah. The cuboid is not a perfect cube, just like the egg is not a perfect sphere. The English word cuboid is derived from the Arabic ka'abah, which means cuboid. The Ka'abah is a symbol of the House of Allah SWT, the Most Supreme Creator, who created everything in the universe, including you and me, our parents and ancestors, all the prophets (Nabi and Rasul), Adam and Eve, Jesus (Nabi Isa a.s.) and the other prophets. The Ka'abah was initially constructed by Prophet Abraham (Nabi Ibrahim a.s.) and his son Ismail (later Nabi Ismail a.s.), whose mother was Siti Hajar. The Ka'abah has 4 walls and 4 corners with specific names and features, which are observed during circumambulation when performing the hajj rites. The corners are: (i) Hajar Aswad, (ii) Rukun Iraqi, (iii) Rukun Syami, and Rukun Yamani. Tawaf begins and ends at Hajar Aswad corner. Rukun Iraqi faces Iraq. Rukun Syami faces Syams or Damascus. Rukun Yamani faces Yemen. Pilgrims wave their hands in the air as they pass Rukun Yamani. The left shoulder must face the Ka'abah all the time while circumambulating the Ka'abah. Should the left should be turned away from Ka'abah, then that round of tawaf becomes null and void, and has to be repeated. The Ka'abah is draped in thick embroidered black velvet fabric called the kiswah, which is replaced at every hajj. The Ka'abah has a door and access is allowed for VVIPs but pilgrims can enter if invited. The Ka'abah can accommodate approximately 50 persons who enter to pray as a congregation. The Ka'abah has a semi-circular low perimeter wall on the side where the golden gutter is (up high). The space between Ka'abah and the low perimeter wall is called the Hijir - this was where infant Ismail kicked his feet hard and zamzam water exited and Siti Hajar quickly gathered sand around to contain the water, which we now know it as zamzam water. Zamzam means to contain (the water). Pilgrims must complete tawaf first and then they can enter into the Hijir on the Ka'abah-door side. In the Hijir, they can pray and exit at right and carefully leave the Ka'abah and tawaf area.

The expansive Plains of Arafah lies outside Makkah. Pilgrims gather here before noon on 9 Zulhijjah, on the day of  Arafah called wukuf. Wukuf marks the beginning of the Hajj. When wukuf falls on Friday, then the hajj is called Haji Akhbar, the Great Hajj. Pilgrims try and perform hajj on Haji Akhbar days, if possible. The announcement of the day of wukuf is made by the Saudi hajj authorities and is not known before hand. The pilgrims gather in Makkah or Mina and wait for the annoucement of wukuf so they can then go to Arafah and wait there to observe wukuf. The hajj becomes null and void if the wukuf is missed altogether. All pilgrims have to get to Arafah to start their hajj rite. The pilgrims are dressed in the (generally) all-white ihram (pilgrimage garments) before they perform wukuf.

By dusk (maghrib), the pilgrims are transported by buses from Arafah to Muzdalifah. In Muzdalifah, pilgrims are let down from the buses as they have to stay a while or overnight (mabit) and collect pebbles or little stones to stone the devils' pillars later when in Mina. They reach Muzdalifah at night (pitch darkness) and use torchlights to see the ground and pick up pebbles. Each pilgrim needs 70 pebbles for stoning the three devils' pillars in Mina.

How to calculate # of pebbles required:
7 pebbles for stoning Jamratul Aqabah on the day of arrival in Mina
7 pebbles for each jamrah, and there are 3 jamrah to stone, and stoning is done for 3 days
(7 x 3 x 3) + 7  pebbles = 70 pebbles

Mina is a vast tent city. White fire-resistant fibreglass tents fill the landscape. These tents are air-conditioned and comfortable. Carpets are used to cover the earth. Pilgrims bring their own needed items. Pitching own tents and cooking in the tents are forbidden. Food is provided by Tabung Haji. The pilgrims stay in Mina for 3 days. They walk from their tents through the big tunnel to the stoning arena where they pelt the 3 devils' pillars (jamrah) daily. The time for stoning is carefully chosen so that not all pilgrims go there at once and to avoid overcrowding and possible stampede. The Tabung Haji officers will inform when stoning must be performed. The 3 pillars are Jamratul Aqabah, Jamratul Ula, and Jamratul Wusta. After stoning the three pillars, the pilgrims walk back through a separate adjacent tunnel (they lie side by side) to their respective tents. They last leave Mina at noon on Day 3, to return to Makkah by bus. Some pilgrims know the area (road maps and GPS) and prefer to walk back from Mina to Makkah - it takes approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes to walk back. After the stoning event, the tents are cleared, rubbish is collected and the tents are deserted till the next hajj arrives. Everyone moves back to Makkah. Mina then becomes an empty quiet city once more.

After the pilgrims leave Mina, they return to their hotel rooms in Makkah. They then go to Masjidil Haram where they perform the tawaf. Pilgrims must still possess wudu' (ablution) in order to perform tawaf. Tawaf begins from an imaginary line that stretches from Hajarul Aswad and radiates out to the stairs. There is a dark line on the floor to indicate this and a green light at the stairs. Pilgrims line up at the start line and walk forward while reading prayers to beg Allah SWT for forgiveness. They circumambulate the Kaabah 7 times in an anticlockwise manner, passing by Makam Ibrahim, Hijir Ismail with its golden gutter perched high up on the Kabbah, the three corners of the Kaabah (Rukun Yamani and 2 other), and until they reach Hajarul Aswad, which makes one round or one tawaf. The pilgrims need to circumambulate the Kaabah 7 times as required for the hajj rite. After they complete tawaf, the pilgrims pray behind Makam Nabi Ibrahim a.s. (a golden structure which bears Prophet Abraham's footprints), and then move to the long corridor to perform the next hajj rite called the sa'i.

The sa'ie is the last rite of the hajj. Here, the pilgrims walk the same path that Hajar (wife of Prophet Ibrahim a.s. and mother of Prophet Ismail a.s.) took when she was running desperately to find water for her baby son, (Prophet) Ismail. She ran back and forth, from Safa hill to Marwah hill in search of water. The desperate running by Hajar is what pilgrims today try to imitate and remember her by. Hajar is remembered every year during the Hajj and Umrah. The pilgrims run up and down the length between the 2 hilltops or peaks, 7 times. They begin at Mt Safa and end at Mt Marwah. When they complete the sa'ie at Marwah, the female pilgrims then trim their hair (minimum 3 strands of hair of about 1 inch or 2.5 cm length, or a folded thumb's length) to mark the end of hajj. Male pilgrims prefer to shave their heads bald - shaving bald represents 'dropping all sins' on site and not taking them back after the hajj. The hair on the head is believed to have witnessed all the sins that we did before the hajj. Removing the hair by shaving means cleansing all previous sins committed by oneself. They thus return from the hajj as bald heads or skin heads. The women can trim their hair ends at Marwah or in the privacy of their own hotel rooms; they do not have to shave their heads bald. When the pilgrims have completed shaving their heads or trimming a bit of their hair (females), they have completed their hajj. They can remove the hajj garments (ihram) and bathe and put on fresh clean clothes. They are now called Haji (if male) or Hajah (if female). These prefixes are useful to denote who has/who has not performed the hajj rite. The Haji and Hajah prefixes are not meant for boasting or bragging.

Haji and Hajah 
Haji is the male name prefix or title earned after the hajj. Hajah is the female name prefix or title. These titles or name prefixes indicate that the person has performed the hajj rite, the 5th pillar of Islam. It should not mean that a Haji man is better than everyone else. Similarly, a Hajah lady is no better than everyone else. These hajj titles are preferred choices and not compulsory to use. Many people who have performed the hajj do not use the hajj titles.

Zamzam water is underground water (air zamzam) obtained from the zamzam well in Makkah. The zamzam well now lies buried underneath Masjidil Haram. In the early days, pilgrims could go downstairs to obtain zamzam water and bathe. By 2004, the hajj authorities have closed off access to the zamzam well. By 2010, the staircase to go down to the zamzam well was sealed and the floor levelled. Pilgrims can obtain bottles of free zamzam water outside Masjidil Haram. Free zamzam water is provided inside the grand mosque. Zamzam water is consumed cold or at room temperature; it must not be boiled in the electric kettle as this will create scales since zamzam water is hard water. Zamzam water contains high magnesium and calcium salts. It is therefore good for one's health.

Whenever a hajj rite is missed, the pilgrims must pay a fine called dam. This can be a sheep. The sheep is sacrificed and the pilgrim is set free of binding obligations.


Mabit - Malay definitions by Haji Zul Tiger, 9 May 2013

Mabit di Muzdalifah: berada di bumi Muzdalifah walaupun seketika mulai separuh malam 10 Zulhijjah sehingga sebelum terbit fajar hari tersebut.

Mabit di Mina: berada di bumi Mina pd malam hari Tasyreeq iaitu pada 11,12 dan 13 Zulhijjah.

Tempoh mabit di Mina:

1.Waktu afdal - sepanjang malam
2.a) lebih daripada separuh waktu malam
2.b) memadai berada di Mina seketika sebelum fajar sehingga terbit fajar

Masya'iril Haram
This word refers to the 3 places where the hajj rites take place - Arafah, Muzdalifah and Mina.

Internet photos
MAS hajj flights began in 1974. Pilgrims fly 8 hours from KLIA/Penang/Terengganu to King AbdulAziz International Airport (KAIA) in Jeddah.
Ka'abah is a part of Masjidil Haram in Makkah. Pilgrims circumambulate it (tawaf) 7 times anticlockwise.
The Plains of Arafah where the Hajj begins every year, by performing Wukuf here.
Masjid Namirah in Arafah is used once a year, for Zohor prayer during Wukuf.
Near Jabal Rahmah (hill in the bkgr with a white pillar) in Arafah. Jabal Rahmah was where Adam and Eve were reunited on Earth. Prayers are answered on Jabal Rahmah.
A hajj pilgrim making a prayer atop Jabal Rahmah
Same as above
Two Muaissim tunnels in Mina. The second tunnel was added after the 1990 tragedy (stampede).
White tent city in Mina
Same as above
Stoning the devil's pillar in Mina. There are altogether 3 devils' pillars.