Hajj is one of the biggest gatherings of masses; it is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, the most holy city of Muslims. Approximately 3 million Muslims from more than 120 countries moves towards Mecca to complete their mandatory religious duty.
In Islam, it is said that there are five pillars; The Profession Faith, Daily Prayers, Alms-Giving, Fasting during Ramadan and Pilgrimage to Mecca.
Being one of five pillars, it is mandatory for all the physically and financially strong Muslims to undertake the journey.
The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th-13th of Dhu-al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar.
Hajj – The STORY
Although, Hajj links with the life of Islamic prophet Muhammad from the 7th century. But some Islamic rituals says pilgrimage is done since thousands of years from the time of Abraham.
Islamic tradition narrates the story as, Abraham was ordered by God to leave his wife Hagar and his son Ishmael alone in the desert of Mecca. Hagar was looking for water for his thirsty child, she ran seven times between the two hills of Safa and Marwah but was not able to find. When she returned she saw Ishmael scratching the ground with his leg and a water fountain erupted beneath his foot.
Abraham was also commanded to build the Kabba, which he successfully did with the help of Ishmael.
In present time government of Saudi Arabia is responsible for organizing Hajj. Each year a specific quota is set by Saudi Arabia for various countries to keep a proper management on pilgrim’s number.
Saudi Arabia government earned whopping revenue of $8.5 billion from Hajj. It is their third highest source of revenue after oil and gas sales.
Worldwide many institutions and government programs are run to assist the pilgrims for Hajj. Indian government helps pilgrims by offering subsidy on Hajj.
Last year more than 1.8 million people completed their Hajj.