Thursday, January 05, 2006
It is the month of the Hajj, the pilgrimage tasked to all true Muslims to complete at least once in their life. Whatever you think of Islam, it would be difficult to not be impressed by the sheer number of people in one place at one time. Ever wonder what 2 million people looked like? Just try the Hajj! Below is what a Muslim must do complete the pigrimage.
DAY 1: FIRST STEP
Pilgrims travel to Mina on 8 Dhul Hijjah (a date in the Islamic calendar) and remain there until dawn the next morning.
DAY 2: STANDING AT ARAFAT
Pilgrims then travel to the valley of Arafat and stand in the open praising Allah and meditating.
At the end of the day, pilgrims travel to Muzdalifa where they spend the night. Pilgrims gather up stones to use the next day.
DAY 3: STONING THE DEVIL
In the morning, pilgrims return to Mina and throw seven stones at pillars called Jamaraat. These represent the devil. The pillars stand at three spots where Satan is believed to have tempted the Prophet Abraham.
Pilgrims sacrifice an animal (usually a sheep or goat). This commemorates the incident related in the Old Testament when the Prophet Abraham was about to sacrifice his son and God accepted a sheep instead. Nowadays many pilgrims pay someone to slaughter the animal on their behalf.
Pilgrims shave their heads or cut some hair from it and return to the Great Mosque at Mecca for a further Tawaf, walking around the Kaaba. They then return to Mina, where they spend the night.
DAYS 4 & 5
Pilgrims spend time in Mina, stoning the pillars each day.
If a pilgrim has been unable to return to Mecca to walk around the Kaaba, he or she does so on the fourth or fifth day.
I would love to go to Mecca. Unfortunately not being a Muslim and not likely to be one anytime soon, I will have to be content with tv footage and amazing photos.
San Nakji for President!