Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca is the most significant religious ritual in Islam that is considered a religious duty and one of the five pillars of Islam. It is mandatory for every Muslim to visit this sacred place for pilgrimage at least once in a lifetime, provided he/she is physically and financially able to. Annually, Muslims from every part of the world gather in Mecca for Hajj reflecting their submission of will to Allah – the Almighty and conveying the message of oneness of God. It is a process of spiritual growth and purification of the soul. When pilgrims return to their homes after this sacred journey, they share their experiences with their friends and family and mention a few sites, rituals and events which people get to know for the first time. Pilgrims travelling for Hajj for the first time will find this article helpful as it would make them aware of the various places they must visit during the pilgrimage.
Let us take a closer look at all the important pilgrimage places to visit during Hajj in Makkah and try to understand what they mean to the pilgrims. The places mentioned below are in order of rituals performed and locations visited by pilgrims during their Five days of Hajj.
Mina (The City of Tents)
Located eight kilometres east of the Masjid Al-Haram, Mina is the abode of pilgrims where they spend most of their nights during Hajj. Pilgrims arrive here on 8th Dhul Hijjah, the first day of Hajj. Covering 20 sq. km area, Mina contains more than 100,000 air-conditioned tents and it is also known as the tent city. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stayed at this place during Hajj and pilgrims follow his footsteps while performing the various rituals of Hajj. The staying arrangements have been modernized and the place could fit around 3 million pilgrims in its air-conditioned Teflon covered tents. It is very common to get lost here which is why the city has been divided into different sections, continent-wise, with the flags of the countries. The number of flags represents how far Islam has reached in the world.
Location: 7 km East of Mecca
Area Covered: 20 sq. km
Distance from Haram: 8 km
The heart of the Hajj, the day of Arafat falls on the second day of Hajj when pilgrims move to Mount Arafat on 9th Dhul Hijjah from Mina. Standing at Arafat is the most significant ritual in Hajj and if a pilgrim misses going to Arafat, his/ her entire Hajj is nullified. This is also the site where Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) delivered his famous Farewell Sermon. Pilgrims come here in the noon and stay here till sunset worshipping Allah, listening to Khutbah delivered in Mosque Nimrah and asking for forgiveness from Allah (SWT). They offer Dhuhr and Asr salah combined and spend the rest of the day remembering Allah.
Location: 22 km East of Haram, Mecca
Total Area Covered: 1,795 hectare
Elevation: 70 m
Distance between Mina & Mount Arafat: 18 km
After spending the day at Arafat, pilgrims move towards Muzdalifah where they spend their night. After reaching Muzdalifah, pilgrims offer Maghrib and Esha prayers together. The night is spent in the open air under the blanket of stars. Pilgrims sleep on the bare desert floor without any comfort. Here, they also collect pebbles for the next day where the pilgrims perform the ritual of stoning at the Jamarat in Mina. One of the most important Ziarat places for Hajj, those pilgrims who travel to Makkah for Umrah also visit this spot.
Location: 9 km southeast of Mina
Total Area Covered: 12.25 sq. km
Distance between Mount Arafat & Muzdalifah: 12 km
Rami- stoning of the devil, takes place at Jamarat which are three stone pillars pelted as a compulsory ritual of Hajj. Jamarat is one of the must-visit places for Hajj where pilgrims need to go for performing the ritual of stoning. The pilgrims emulate Prophet Ibrahim (AS) who pelted Satan with stones when he tried to dissuade him from sacrificing his son Prophet Ismail (AS) on the command of Allah (SWT). The three pillars, ‘Jamarat-al-Ula’, ‘Jamarat-al-Wusta’ and ‘Jamarat-al-Aqaba’ represent the three locations where Prophet Ibrahim (AS) pelted Satan three times. The pilgrims at Jamarat Bridge need to be wary of their safety because of overcrowding which could lead to a stampede.
Total Length of Jamarat Bridge: 950 m
Distance between Muzdalifah & Jamarat: 7 km
Read Also: Important Mosques to Visit in Makkah
After the stoning at Jamarat, an animal is sacrificed (Qurbani) and pilgrims shave their head. Later pilgrims return to Masjid-ul-Haram in Makkah to perform Tawaf-uz-Ziarah around the holy Kaabah and also offer 2 Rakat Nafl at Maqam-e-Ibrahim. The pilgrims also return to Jamarat in Mina on the 4th and 5th day of Hajj to perform the ritual of stoning. The pilgrims also perform Tawaf-ul-Wada (Farewell Tawaf) after completing all the rituals of Hajj.
Total Area Covered: 356,800 sq. m
Read More: Tawaf – Rules and its Different Types