Saudi Arabia – Hajj

Each year Saudi Arabia hosts the largest religious pilgrimage on Earth, The Hajj.
Every Muslim who has the means is obliged to perform Hajj at least once. Hajj is performed on the 8th to 2th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th and last month of the Islamic year.
Because the Islamic year is based on a lunar calendar, and is 11 days shorter than the actual year, this date moves forward every year.
There used to be thousands of pilgrims coming to Mecca every year travelling for many weeks or even months through dangerous territories in order to perform this religious duty. As travel has become much easier, more people can afford the journey to Meccah. At this time about two million people perform Hajj every year. And the Saudi Government has to keep it at that number because otherwise Hajj would become impossible.

Several rituals have to be performed by all pilgrims during the short time of Hajj. This presents Saudi Arabia, as hosts and organizers of the Hajj enormous logistical problems.
Saudi Arabia is constately at work to perfect the different problems of housing, transport, food, drink, and speed in which pilgrims can manage to perform the obligatory rituals in the prescribed times. Congestion is always a problem. there have been stampedes in the past and this is to be avoided. Pilgrim traffic is now to be one-way.

A new feature will be the largest clock tower in the world, showing Mecca time. Another improvement is the recent addition of the Mashair Railway, a light rail track linking the sites of Mina, Muzdalifah and Mount Arafat, areas that see massive crowding.

The train link will operate at 35 percent of its final capacity. It will replace 4,000 buses previously used, said Saeed al-Qurashi, head of the Hajj and Umra Committee at the Mecca Chamber of Commerce.
The pilgrimage is not only a personal experience, but should be a time of spiritual unity amongst Muslims.
“We are trying to adopt the Jamarat experience to the Grand Holy Mosque,” interior ministry spokesman General Mansur al-Turki said last month.


24 Responses

  1. It is a magnificent experience even if one does not make it all the way to Makkah. Just being in Saudi Arabia as a resident during Hajj is a special experience. Abdullah and I would often leave our tv tuned to Saudi Arabia Television which broadcasts Hajj 24/7.

  2. I loved my Hajj Experience!!

  3. I never went to Haj but I did perform Umra…while I have changed alot since that experience..the feeling I got from it has not. It is forever engraved on my mind.

  4. One of China’s prominent maharishis, I forget which, said that religions are the opium of the masses. I have never heard any convincing argument against that ungodly phrase. Does anyone know why someone would compare religions with addictive drugs? I am told that drug addicts use drugs to escape reality and depend on external allusions instead of facing and dealing with reality. I have been and am still confused by the comparison.

  5. Opium of the masses. It’s free. Many people use religion to excape reality and depend on what someone tells them God wants them to do. In some cases it spills into mind control of the masses.

    I long ago knew more than one former addict that became evangelical Christian. They could hardly talk about anything else it permeated every part of their life. Everything revolved around it. Much in the same way drugs take over an addicts life. Everything they do revolves around making sure they can get their next fix.

  6. Ali Alyami,

    I’ve always respected your work, and your efforts towards reform. Although I think that quote is attributed to Karl Marx. It’s not too hard to see the comparison between drugs, and religion; both offer some sort of escapism, the former being a bit funner without the burden of guilt.

  7. The quotation if from Karl Marx, it is habitually quoted out of context, the complete passage reads:

    Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man—state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion. Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.

  8. There is always the possibility that we change, becoming truly good, independently of any one religion. Although this is the basic premise of most religions, none have accomplished it.

    The purpose of hajj is inner change. I feel the conditions could be modified to correspond to the world today. There is no need for that many people to be in the same place at the same time.

  9. Djd, interesting concept, would that be possible? The way it is now not everybody who has the means can actually get the ticket to go to hajj, Because of the huge numbers involved nowadays. Of course in Mohammeds time they would never have imagined the 2 million who come every year now. that is really a mind boggling number.
    I wonder if the rocks themselves don’t get worn away with such huge numbers, every year!
    I do think it’s quite an achievement of Saudi Arabia to host this event every year!

  10. Good to see Saudi making such investments (such as the rail link) for Hajjis. Hajj will get more and more crowded as population of the world expands – so such development has to be for the future.

  11. Hmmmm…

    Year round Hajj? I guess you are right Aafke…getting a flight must be terrifically difficult and not any easier year to year. Is there any reason people can’t have hajj at a different time or extended? Ie: at Easter and Christmas the Holy Land gets inundated due to the holiday…but they CAN visit anytime they like, it is jsut that people prefer to go during those times.

  12. Oby, I meant being allowed to come to Mecca, there is a restriction as to numbers, and every country gets a certain number of people allowed to come.

  13. Oby,

    Muslims can go to Mecca and Medina any time of the year and do umrah or just visit. Like Easter and Christmas, Hajj is at a specific time.

  14. Thanks AS and Aafke…

    AS…so if you go to Mecca at any other time other than Hajj time it can’t count as Hajj…I guess I was trying to compare it to Easter in that there is no requirement for Christians to go to the holy land at all it is just that it gets super crowded at that time. But Hajj must be performed during the “hajj” time period or it doesn’t count toward one’s holy obligation, is that right?(of visiting Mecca at least once in one’s lifetime). Thanks

  15. I know that many animals are sacrificed for the Hajj. Has anyone been into the slaughter houses to see the conditions during this period?
    Does the muslim religion offer any substitute for sacrificing an animal?
    Thank you

  16. I wonder how they can keep the Hajj an obligation when there is no way that even a minority of Muslims could attend during their lifetimes.

  17. Hajj remains an obligation of Muslims. While many Muslims may not be able to afford Hajj during their lifetimes, it is also worth remembering how in the olden times pilgrims would leave months ahead of Hajj traveling over land in harsh conditions.

    I’ve not been to a slaughter house. Most families will purchase their own animal for sacrifice and slaughter it themselves. If one does not wish to have an animal slaughtered, one can give money to the poor or to charitable organizations.

  18. @Oby,

    That is correct. A Muslim is only required to do Hajj if they have the means and health to do so. The vast, vast majority of Muslims never end up going to hajj.

  19. AS…

    Thanks…I thought it was the exception rather than the rule that people don’t make it to Hajj. I don’t know why but I had the impression the majority make it there at some point in their lives…

  20. But now that I think of it if I had done the math for a second then I see how it is a minority…

  21. I Live in Australia and we send alive sheep to the middle east for slaughter during the whole year. There has been a lot of evidence about the stress and fear these animals feel during the journey , when they arrive in to the very hot arabian temperatures,being trussed and transported in car boots or being killed in front of each other either in slaughterhouses or by private people

    I have a link here about photos taken in Kuwait and Bahrain in the last three days during the festival of sacrifice.

    I would like to know if you think this is according to the islamic teachings of being humane to animals.

  22. @Ruch,

    I can not answer your query as I am not knowledgeable on this subject. I’ve always heard of the halal aspect being in regards to the way the animal was killed and how the blood flowed.

  23. Hello and thank you all in advance,

    I am an american muslim living and working in Riyadh. I would very much like to make hajj this year but like a lot of things here in Saudi I am finding it difficult to get any straight forward information about hajj. I need to know what are the procedures for an expat to make hajj. What do I need?, do I need an agency or can I just “show up” on my own to mecca? Also, what is my sponsors role in my travel plan? No one on the job has even asked me if I was interested in going to hajj this year so I figured I would try to find out for myself before its too late. Any info would be helpful and thanks again for all your help.

  24. […] are already arriving to Makkah in anticipation of performing hajj.  Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and a desire of all Muslims to perform at least once in their […]

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