What is Hajj?

Hajj is to perform the pilgrimage in Makkah in modern day Saudi Arabia. It is the fifth pillar of Islam.

Hajj is obligatory to perform at least once in a lifetime for every Muslim, male or female, provided that he/she is physically and financially able to do so. Hajj is performed during a five-day period from the 8th to 13th of Dhul-Hijjah, the twelfth month of the Muslim lunar calendar.

In 2021, the Hajj will be approximately 17-22 July. Due to the COVID19 pandemic, in similarity to 2020 the outlook for Hajj is uncertain and British Muslims are currently advised not to make any travel plans currently. Click here for FCDO guidance on pilgrimage travel to Saudi Arabia.

Why is Hajj important?

Hajj is the ultimate form of worship, as it involves the spirit of all the other rituals and demands great sacrifice.

On this unique occasion, around three million Muslims from all over the globe travel to Makkah to enjoin prayers together. Regardless of the season, male pilgrims wear special clothes (Ihram) – two, very simple, unsown white garments – which strips away all distinctions of wealth, status, class and culture; everyone stands as one, and are equal before God. Through this, no one can tell a person’s social or economic status, or national origin based on the clothes one wears. It is during Hajj that every race and nationality from all over the world come together to worship God.

Labayk Allahumma Labayk Labayk. La shareeka laka Labayk. Innal hamda wannimata laka wal mulk. La shareeka Lak.

(Here I am at Your service, oh Lord, here I am – here I am. No partner do You have. Here I am. Truly, the praise and the favor are Yours, and the dominion. No partner do You have.)

How is Hajj performed?

The rituals of Hajj go back to the time of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) who built the Ka’bah (cubical building covered in black silk) over five days.

The Hajj rituals include circumambulating the Ka’bah (Tawaf), and walking and lightly jogging between the hills of Safa and Marwah, as Hajar (Abraham’s wife) did during her search for water for her son Isma’il. This is when God blessed her with the spring of ZamZam water, which still exists, and is drank by millions of pilgrims to this day!

The pilgrims then stand together on the wide plain of Arafah and join in prayers for God’s forgiveness, in what is often thought of as a preview of the Last Judgment. The pilgrims also cast stones at stone walls which represent Satan. The pilgrimage ends with Eid al-Adha, which is celebrated with prayers, the sacrifice of an animal, and the exchange of greetings and gifts in Muslim communities everywhere.

‘And proclaim the Hajj among mankind. They will come to thee on foot and (mounted) on every camel, lean on account of journeys through deep and distant mountain highways’

(Quran 22:27)


Arafat: The day of Arafat falls on the ninth day of Dhu Al Hijja according to the hijri calendar. It is the second day of Hajj and marks the occasion when a verse of the Quran was revealed: “This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favour to you and chosen for you Islam as a religion.” (Surah Al Maidah – Verse 3). Muslims who are not on the pilgrimage fast on this blessed day.

Ka’bah: Cubical building covered in black silk, representing the House of God. Muslims face the Ka’bah everyday for their daily prayers.

Tawaf: Circumambulation of the Ka’bah in an anti-clockwise direction.

Useful advice for prospective pilgrims

Check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) guidance on travelling to Saudi Arabia.

For other important news and information on both Hajj and Umrah, you can visit the Council of British Hajjis UK website