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Rituals of Haj
Virtues of Haj

Pilgrimage known as Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam.

Although it ranks as the fifth Pillar of Islam, the Hajj is obligatory only on those Muslims who can truly afford it and that too only once in a lifetime. In a way, it is the biggest of all forms of worship ('ibaadah) because only those who truly love Allah SWT would undertake such a long journey, leaving

behind beloved family members and prized possessions. Muslims who plan to go to Hajj should prepare not only from the financial and health aspect, but more so in terms of educating themselves on the subject of Hajj, and all matters relating to its proper performance.

The ultimate objective, of course, is to attain Hajj Mabroor - one that has been performed in the best manner acceptable to Allah SWT, purely out of His Divine Generosity and Mercy for the pilgrim's efforts and intentions.

There are three ways of performing the Hajj, namely at-Tamattu', al-Ifraad and al-Qiraan.

AT-TAMATTU' (ENJOYABLE HAJJ)

The pilgrim wears ihraam for Umrah only during the months of Hajj, which means when he reaches Mecca, he makes the tawaaf and sa'ie for Umrah. He then shaves or clips his hair to come out of his state of ihraam. Then, on the day of Tarwiya, which is the eighth of Zulhijjah, he enters into the ihraam state again for Hajj and carries out all of its requirements.

AL-IFRAAD (ISOLATED HAJJ)

The pilgrim wears ihraam for Hajj only. When he reaches Mecca, he performs a greeting tawaaf for his arrival and sa'ie for Hajj. He does not shave nor clip his hair nor does he disengage from ihraam. Instead, he remains in ihraam till after he has stoned jamrat al-aqabah on the day of Eid on 10 Zulhijjah. It is permissible for him to postpone his sa'ie for Hajj until after his tawaaf for Hajj.

AL-QIRAAN (ACCOMPANIED HAJJ)

The pilgrim wears ihraam for both Umrah and Hajj simultaneously, or he wears ihraam first for Umrah, then resolves his intention for Hajj before his tawaaf for Hajj.

The obligations on one performing al-Ifraad are the same as those on one performing al-Qiraan, except that the latter must sacrifice an animal, whereas the former is not obligated to do so.

All the three types of Hajj involve the performance of essentially the same rites and acts of worship. The difference consist basically in the niyyah pronounced by the pilgrims at the meeqaat. The specifics of the Hajj then follows directly from this niyyah.

Another difference would be the persons allowed to perform the different types of Hajj. Al-Ifraad is the only type of Hajj allowed to be performed by those living within the boundaries of the meeqaat. Meanwhile, at-Tamattu' and al-Qiraan can only be performed by those living outside the meeqaat.

Of the three types of Hajj, the best is said to be of the at-Tamattu'. It is the one that the Prophet SAW encouraged his followers to perform. Imran bin Husain said: "We did that (at-Tamattu') in the company of Allah's Messenger SAW and he did not say anything but he (the Prophet SAW) commanded us to do it." [Muslim]

Even if a pilgrim has made an intention to perform al-Qiraan or al-Ifraad, he is allowed to change his intentions to at-Tamattu'. In fact, he can do this even after he has performed the tawaaf and sa'ie under those categories upon his arrival in the Holy City.

Whether at-Tamattu', al-Ifraad or al-Qiraan, if they are performed according to their regulations without any other actions that invalidate them, would fulfill the compulsory Islamic obligation of performing Hajj once in a lifetime. Therefore, pick one that fits you best and is allowed for you to perform it.

Courtesy of: Nur Husni