Hajj Rites



Practical Steps in Performing the Hajj Rites


Dr. Saleh Okenwa

Fmr. Commissioner (Planning, Research, Statistics, Information and Library Services)




In the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful 




It is common knowledge that the reward for performing the pilgrimage is nothing short of al-jannat. This is because, the Prophet (SAW) has asserted so categorically in a good number of his traditions.


However, what many people do not know is that the pilgrimage the Prophet (SAW) is talking about in those traditions of his is not just any excursion made in the name of pilgrimage, but a true pilgrimage performed in the way Allah ordained it, and precisely as the Prophet (SAW) himself performed it.


This paper aims at providing a straight forward and concise description of the practical steps of performing the pilgrimage in accordance with the manner reported from the Prophet (SAW) who has said: (خذوا عنى مناسككم  ), meaning:  “Take from me your hajj rites


The paper will not be delving into side-issues of hajj or dabbling in controversies between the scholars.  It will be concentrating solely on those rites that if properly performed in accordance with the Sunnah, will qualify the pilgrim for the great reward attached to this noble duty of Islam.  Although the description is concise, yet no essential issue of hajj is left hanging.


The issues discussed are as follows:

1)                Donning the Pilgrims’ Garb (Ihram)

2)                The Circuit of Arrival (Tawaf al-Qudum)

3)                The Trotting between Mount Safa and Marwa (Sa’y)

4)                Going to Mina

5)                Moving to the Plain of Arafat

6)                The Standing (Wuquf) in Arafat

7)                Moving to Muzdalifah

8)                The Activities of the 10th day of Dhul-Hijjah

9)                The Activities of Tashriq Days (11th – 13th day of Dhul-Hijjah)

10)           The Farewell Circuit (Tawaf al-Wada’)


1)      Donning the Pilgrims Garb (Ihram)


On arrival at Jeddah, the first thing the pilgrim has to do is to decide whether he is proceeding to Makkah from there or to Madinah.


If he is proceeding to Makkah, he can consider Jeddah as his miqatMiqat is simply one of the places specified by the Prophet (SAW) for those intending to perform hajj or umrah to assume their ihram on their way to Makkah.  And the original miqat for a pilgrim proceeding from Nigeria is a place called Juhfah, near Jeddah which has now been submerged by the Red Sea.


But if the pilgrim is proceeding to Medinah, then he should suspend the ihram till he has finished his ziyarat.  When his ziyarat is over, and from Madinah he is on his way to Makkah for the pilgrimage, he will assume his ihram when he gets to the miqat of the people of Medinah – a place called Dhu Hulaifah – exactly as if he were on original inhabitant of Medinah.


To assume the ihram, the pilgrim discards his normal dress, takes complete bath, performs ablution, applies perfume to his body, puts on the ihram garment (two pieces of white unsewed cloth) and then recants the talbiyah.


A woman can wear whatever she likes as long as it does not display her adornments or resemble men’s clothing.  The talbiyah is:


لبيك اللهم لبيك - لبيك لا شريك لك لبيك - إن الحمد والنعمة لك والملك - لا شريك لك


Labbayka Allahumma labbayka

Labbayka laa shareeka laka labbayka

Inna al-hamda wan-ni’mata laka wal-mulk

Laa shareeka laka




Here I am (at Your Service) O Lord, here I am. Here I am, there is no associate with Thee, here I am. All praise is thine, all favours are thine and the Kingdom. There is no associate with Thee. 


Male pilgrim utters the talbiya aloud, while the female says it silently.


In essence, ihram simply means making the intention for hajj or umrah.  In entering into ihram, the pilgrim has to specify the type of hajj he intends to perform, whether it is:


-         Tamattu’i (separation his hajj from his umrah), 

-         Ifrad (hajj alone without umrah), or

-         Qiran (combining umrah and hajj together without separation). 


He indicates his intention by saying:


Labaika umratan (I answer Your call for umrah)

Labaika hajjan (I answer Your call for hajj) or

Labaika umratan wa hajjan (I answer Your call for umrah and hajj)


It is recommended to perform two raka’hs after entering into ihram.


Entering into the state of ihram, forbids the pilgrim from:


-         Impious acts, obscenity, wickedness, wrangling

-         Removing hair from any part of his body

-         Applying perfume on his body, clothes or food

-         Sexual intercourse – This is the most serious prohibition and its

        perpetrator should complete the remaining rites of hajj, slaughter a

        camel as an atonement and perform another hajj the following year in

        place of the invalidated one

-         It is also prohibited to have any amorous physical contact with a woman, something like kissing, fondling etc.

-         Contracting marriage


-         A man must not wear anything which is sewn to fit the shape of the body like shirt, undershirt, trousers

-         Covering the head with anything that touches the man’s head directly such as turban or cap

-         Killing any land or game or frightening it from its place


2)      The Circuit of Arrival (Tawaf al-Qudum)


After entering into ihram, the pilgrim is to continue reciting the talbiyah till he arrives Makkah.  On arrival at Makkah, he performs ablution and enters the Masjid al-Haram through any gate that suits him.  The Prophet (SAW) is reported to have entered through Bani Shaibah Gate.  But the pilgrim is at liberty to enter from any gate he likes.  Around the Ka’abah is a ground area called mataf on which the pilgrim performs the Tawaf, beginning at the Black Stone.


The pilgrim performs the Tawaf by going round the Ka’abah seven times, the first three at a trotting pace and the remaining four at a walking pace.


The whole mataf is a place for Tawaf, whether the pilgrim is close to the Ka’abah or not.  However, drawing closer to the Ka’abah is better if he can do that without harming people or being harmed due to congestion.


In all the rounds, the pilgrim glorifies Allah, and as he passes by the Black Stone, he kisses, touches or simply makes a motion towards it.


When the pilgrim is through with the Tawaf, he is required to perform two rak’ahs behind the station of Ibrahim (Maqam Ibrahim).  But if there is too much congestion, he can perform the two rak’ahs anywhere in the Haram.


Some people say their intention for Tawaf aloud, some have particular supplications for each round, some even read from booklets prepared for that.  The pilgrim should note that all these are contrary to Sunnah.


3)      The Trotting between Mount Safa and Marwa (Sa’y)


When the pilgrim has finished with Tawaf, he then leaves the mataf by the Bab as-Safa and goes to Mount Safa and Marwah to perform the Sa’y.


The pilgrim has to do the Sa’y seven times, starting with Mount Safa – reciting prayers and supplications throughout.  He should note that from Mount Safa to Mount Marwah counts as one round, and from Marwah to Safa counts as another round, and that the walking or trotting between the two marked posts from Safa to Marwah is done at a faster pace.  Women are to walk at normal pace.


The pilgrim should note that reciting (إن الصفا والمروة من شعائر الله) is only done at the beginning of the Sa’y, not during every climb at Mount Safa, and that specifying certain supplications for each round, and regarding a run from Safa to Marwah and back to it as one round, all these are contrary to Sunnah.


Having performed the Sa’y seven times, the pilgrim ends up at Marwah where he shaves his head or trims his hair taking from all sides.  With that, he has now completed his umrah.


If the pilgrim has come before the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah with the intention of separating his hajj from the umrah (tamattu’i), he is free to put off the ihram dress and put on his normal clothes. But if he intends to join the umrah and hajj together (qiran or ifrad), then he remains in his ihram till the completion of hajj rites.


That means the qarin or mufrid on reaching the Ka’abah, performs the arrival Tawaf (Tawal al-Qudum), then performs the Sa’y and counts that Sa’y as the Sa’y of hajj. Consequently, he will not need to do another Sa’y after Tawaf Ifadah on Eid day – the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah.


4)      Going to Mina


On the 8th day of Dhul-Hijjah, the pilgrim performing the tamattu’i takes bath and enters into ihram for the pilgrimage proper.  Then he moves to Mina, reciting the talbiyah continuously. (The qarin and mufrid equally join in going to Mina) He arrives there before noon prayers.  At Mina, he is required to perform his Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Ishai prayers, including his Subhi prayers for the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah which is the day of Arafat.


These prayers have to be shortened as prayer of someone on a journey.


5)      Moving to the Plain of Arafat


When the sun has risen on that ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah (the day of Arafat) the pilgrim joins the multitudes of his brothers and sisters in moving to the plains of Arafat, making the talbiyah in full humility to Allah.  There, at the plains of Arafat, Zuhr and Asr prayers are combined at midday and shortened with one adhan and two iqamahs.  The Imam gives sermon (khutbah) from the pulpit of Namirah Mosque near the Mount of Mercy (Jabal Rahmat) a distinguished landmark of Arafat on which the Prophet (SAW) delivered his famous farewell sermon.


6)      The Standing (Wuquf) in Arafat


The whole of the afternoon of the 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah is to be spent on the plain of Arafat.  This is called the standing (Wuquf). In this context “standing” simply means being present in Arafat on that day, because it does not really matter whether he is standing or sitting or carried.  This presence in Arafat is the culmination and cornerstone of hajj. Whoever misses the occasion misses his hajj. To this effect, the Prophet (SAW) has said:  (الحج عرفة), that is: “Pilgrimage is Arafat.


The pilgrim has to pay particular attention to the boundary of Arafat, and make sure he stands inside this boundary, not outside it.  But, once a man is inside the Arafat boundary, then he can stand or sit wherever he likes, minus the valley of Arafat.


After the Zuhr and Asr prayers combined and shortened as mentioned earlier, the pilgrim is required to busy himself with nothing but supplications to Allah (duah). He should maintain his ablution throughout, and in all his duah, he should be facing the Kiblah, keeping Mount Arafat behind him.


He must not leave Arafat till he is cock-sure the sun has set.


7)      Moving to Muzdalifah


When the sun of that Arafat day has set completely, and the pilgrim has become very sure that it has set, then he should start moving to Muzdalifah – an open plain ground half way between Arafat and Mina, recanting the talbiyah with full humility to Allah, maintaining his dignity and tranquility as much as possible, because the Prophet (SAW) used to exhort his Sahaba in that state, saying:

(أيها الناس السكينة - السكينة), that is: “O you people!! Tranquility! Tranquility!”


At Muzdalifah the pilgrim performs Maghrib and Ishai prayers combined, with Isha’ shortened. He spends the night there at the plain and collects the required number of pebbles for the morning exercise of Jamarat at Mina. However, he should note that it is not compulsory to pick the pebbles in Muzdalifah. He is at liberty to pick them anywhere he likes.


In the early morning of the 10th day of Dhul-Hijjah which is the day of Eid al-Adha, the pilgrim performs his Subhi prayers there in Muzdalifah.  When it is close to sunrise, he proceeds from Muzdalifah to Mina. When he arrives at Mina after sunrise, he has several things to do.


8)      The Activities of the 10th Day of Dhul-Hijjah


On the 10th day of Dhul-Hijjah which is the day of Eid al-Adha, the pilgrim has the following activities to perform:


i)                   Moving to Mina for casting of pebbles at Jamrat al-Aqabah.


He is required to cast seven pebbles at Jamrat al-Aqabah after sunrise on that day, saying “Allahu Akbar” (الله أكبر) with the throwing of each pebble making sure the pebbles fall inside the hole beneath the stone pillar.  The casting must be done with all humility to Allah. Jamrat al-Aqabah is the last Jamrat next to Makkah.


ii)                 Slaughtering his Animal


After casting the pebbles, he is required to make his offering or hadiy.  He should note that no animal is acceptable as hadiy except the one that is qualified to be udhiyah.  A man does not have to slaughter the

hadiy by himself.  He can appoint someone or pay to Islamic Development Bank to do it on his behalf.   A man who slaughters sacrificial animal should eat some and distribute the rest to the needy.  Offering sacrifice is obligatory on the mutamatt’i and qarin. If he cannot however afford it, then he must fast three days during hajj and seven days after returning home to his family.


iii)               Shaving his Hair


After the pilgrim has finished with his sacrifice, he should shave his hair or cut it. Shaving is however, more meritorious. Women are not required to shave but cut the length of a fingertip from their hair.


After the pilgrim has shaved or cut his hair, he enters the state of preliminary termination of ihram.  He can now wear his usual clothes and the things that were prohibited during ihram become lawful for him, with the exception of sexual intercourse.


iv)               The Circuit of Descension from Arafat (Tawaf Ifadah)


After shaving his hair, the pilgrim moves to Makkah before Zuhr – if possible - and performs Tawaf Ifadah which is an essential part of hajj.

If the pilgrim is doing hajj tamattu’i, he will perform the Sa’y after the Tawaf, and if he is performing hajj al-ifrad or hajj al-qiran and has not performed the Sa’y with Tawaf al-Qudum, he must do it now.


By doing this Tawaf Ifadah, the pilgrim terminates his ihram finally and the things that have been hitherto prohibited to him in the state of ihram now become lawful, including sexual intercourse.


The pilgrim should note that the order given above of the activities of the Eid Day is the best.  But if that order is not followed for a valid reason, there is no problem.  For instance, a pilgrim is at liberty to make his offering on the second day of the Eid.


9)      The Activities of Tashriq Days (11th – 13th Dhul-Hijjah)


Having concluded the rites in Makkah, the pilgrim must return to Mina once again and spend the night preceding the 11th and 12th days of Dhul-Hijjah there.


Every day in the afternoon of the Tashriq days, he is required to throw pebbles at the three jimar, seven pebbles for each jamrat. He begins the throwing with the first jamrat (as-Sugra), which is the farthest from Makkah, then he moves to the second (al-Wusta), then to the third (al-Aqaba) – the nearest to Makkah, reciting Allahu Akbar with each pebble he throws, and showing full humility to the Lord of the Universe.


He is recommended to stand after pelting the first and the second, and supplicate to Allah facing the qiblah. The same acts are repeated on the 12th day of Dhul-Hijjah. After that, if the pilgrim is in a hurry and wishes to do ta’jeel (leaving Mina on the 12th), he should leave before sunset. But if he is not in a hurry and wishes to stay until the 13th day – which is more meritorious, - he should spend the night there and throw the pebbles in the noon of the 13th day of Dhul-Hijjah, exactly as he did on the 12th.     


It is pertinent for the pilgrim to note that the throwing of pebbles at the jamarat has to be done in the afternoon. But if the congestion is too much, some scholars have it that it can be done at night. He should also note that a pilgrim who is not capable of throwing the pebbles by himself for valid reasons as ill health, can appoint someone to do it on his behalf. But then, the deputy must first of all have thrown for himself before throwing for someone else. However, appointing a deputy without a solid reason for that is contrary to Sunnah.


10)    The Farewell Circuit (Tawaf al-Wada’)


          When the pilgrim is ready to leave Makkah finally and return to his country, he is required to make the Tawaf al-Wada’ which is like bidding farewell to the Sacred Mosque.


After the farewell Tawaf, he should leave in the normal way, not moving backwards as some ignorant people do.


A woman in her menses is not required to make the farewell Tawaf, and is equally not required to go and stand at the door of the Ka’abah for a few minutes before leaving Makkah, as some ignorant women do.


May Allah guide us aright and accept our ibadah.