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The Right of Passage in Islam

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Jafer Abu-Saleh


Comm 441

Rite of Passage

In Islam there are five essential steps that a Muslim must take in a life time in order to be considered a fully Muslim. The first step: is believing that there is no God, but Allah and believing that Mohamad is the messenger of Allah. The second step: Al-Salat which is preying five times a day. The third step is: giving Al-Zakat which is giving to cherty. The forth step is: Al-Swam which is fasting the holy month of Ramadan, The fifth step is: Al-Haji, Al- Haji is the Rite Of Passage that I am going to talk about and discuss in this paper.

What is Al-Haji? Al-Haji is the only step out the five that is only step that a person needs to do only ones in a life time and only if they are able to.

Who must do Al-Haji? Every able Muslim must make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their life. The state of being physically and financially capable of performing the Hajj is called istita’ah, and a Muslim who fulfills this condition is called a mustati.

When the pilgrim is around 10 km (6.2 mi) from Mecca, they have to be dressed in Ihram clothing, which consists of two white sheets. Both men and women are required to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. The main rituals of the Hajj include walking seven times around the Kaaba termed Tawaf, touching the Black Stone termed Istilam, traveling seven times between Mount Safa and Mount Marwah termed Sa’yee, and symbolically stoning the Devil in Mina termed Ramee.

The Haji is the second largest annual gathering of Muslims in the world. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God (Allah). The word Hajj means “to intend a journey”, which connotes both the outward act of a journey and the inward act of intentions.

The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th (or in some cases 13th) of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar. Because the Islamic calendar is lunar and the Islamic year is about eleven days shorter than the Gregorian year, the Gregorian date of Hajj changes from year to year. Ihram is the name given to the special spiritual state in which pilgrims wear two white sheets of seamless cloth and abstain from certain actions.

The Hajj is associated with the life of Islamic prophet Muhammad from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time of Abraham. During Hajj, pilgrims join processions of hundreds of thousands of people, who simultaneously converge on Mecca for the week of the Hajj, and perform a series of rituals: each person walks counter-clockwise seven times around the Kaaba (the cube-shaped building and the direction of prayer for the Muslims), runs back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwah, drinks from the Zamzam Well, goes to the plains of Mount Arafat to stand in vigil, spends a night in the plain of Muzdalifa, and performs symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing stones at three pillars. The pilgrims then shave their heads, perform a ritual of animal sacrifice, and celebrate the three-day global festival of Eid al-Adha.

However, even if they choose to perform the Umrah, they are still obligated to perform the Hajj at some other point in their lifetime if they have the means to do so, because Umrah is not a substitute for Hajj.

The person whom I asked about the al haji and about their experience was my mother. My mom went to al haji few years ago, she went with my aunt, my sister and her friends. Her experience was good, but as it is for everyone, it was hard, difficult but rewarding.

When mom decided to go to Makah, she has to make sure that her family will be ok and that we will not need her in the time she will be gone, she also started to go on walks to make sure that she is able to do Al-haji. After a Muslim does Al-haji, they will be called a Hajji for males and a Hajjah for females (one who made the pilgrimage to Mecca). Which makes my mom, Hajjah.

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