Haj/Umrah wing
Last Updated On Feb 12 2017 6:58PM
[ Printable Version ]

Haj Introduction & Orientations

India is a pluralistic society which is home to millions of Muslims. Indian Muslims constitute the second largest Muslim community in the world. The Haj is incumbent upon all adult Muslims of sound mind with the necessary physical capacity and financial capability. Successive Indian governments have accepted assistance to Indian nationals for the successful performance of the Haj as a serious responsibility. This is viewed as a concrete manifestation of adherence to the principles of secularism enshrined in the Indian Constitution. These principles engender a deep respect for all the religions practiced by Indian citizens and inculcate a commitment to provide all facilities to enable Indian nationals to fulfill their religious obligations in peace and comfort. It is in the context of this commitment that the Haj Section of the Consulate General of India functions as a nodal agency in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to facilitate the pilgrimage of more than 170,000 Indian citizens annually. 


There are approximately 35 verses in the Holy Quran which dwell directly on the Haj as one of the pillars of Islam and its rites and rituals. In 1431H (2010AD) as we prepare to perform  Haj, we ought to remember that during the course of 23 years of the revelation of the Holy Quran, the Prophet (pbuh) of Islam had at no time availed himself of the major pilgrimage of Haj. He is recorded to have performed Umrah though.


In the 9th Hijri he deputed his foremost companion Abu Bakr to lead the Haj and ordered Ali Ibn Abi Talib to join the former to announce that the House of Allah would no longer be allowed to be defiled with the abominations of the idolaters and their kind of worship.  Ali carried out the order; he was heard at Arafat both by Muslims and Idolaters. Then it happened as prophesied: there were no Unbelievers around when the Prophet of Islam led the Haj himself the following year. The Haj would since be unlike any that had taken place for hundreds of years: the pilgrims would all be worshippers of the one God, and no idolater would desecrate the Holy House with the performance of any heathen rites. Obviously, the Prophet (pbuh) had envisioned it so and it was destined to be so. Another prophetic part of this decision was the revelation that year at Arafah (Yawm-al-Wuquf) of the last passage which completed the Quran:


This day the disbelievers despair of prevailing against your religion, so fear them not, but fear Me! This day have I perfected for you your religion and fulfilled my Favour unto you, and it had been My good pleasure to choose Islam for you as your religion.

The Farewell Haj was the holy Prophet's final public act and, therefore, it appeared to have been ordained he was to personally teach the newly organised ummat about the finer points of the Islamic rites and rituals associated with the Haj. The Prophet (pbuh) was clear about the conclusion of Allah’s message through him and he himself chose to institute and establish its practice down to the minute details. The following verses say it all:



Remember We made the House a place of assembly for people and a place of safety; and take ye the Station of Abraham as a place of prayer; and We covenanted with Abraham and Ismail, that they should sanctify My House for those who Compass it round, or use it as a retreat, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in prayer).


And remember Abraham said: “My Lord, make this a City of Peace, and feed its People with fruits, – such of them as believe in Allah and the Last Day.”


He said: “(Yea), and such as reject Faith,-for a while will I grant them their pleasure, but will soon drive them to the torment of Fire,- an evil destination (indeed)!”


And remember Abraham and Ismail raised the foundations of the House (with this prayer: “Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us: for Thou art the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.


“Our Lord! Make of us Muslims, bowing to Thy (Will), and of our progeny a people Muslim, bowing to Thy (Will); And show us our places for the celebration of (due) rites: for Thou art the Oft-Relenting Most Merciful. (125-128, Surah Baqarah)


“That they may witness the benefits (provided for them, and celebrate the name of Allah, through the Days appointed, over the cattle which He has provided for them (for sacrifice): then eat ye thereof and feed the distressed ones in want.


“Then let them complete the rites prescribed for them, fulfil their vows, and (again) circumambulate the Ancient House.


Such (is the Pilgrimage): whoever honours the sacred rites of Allah, for him it is good in the sight of his Lord. Lawful to you (for food in Pilgrimage) are cattle, except those mentioned to you (as exceptions): so shun the abomination of idols, and shun the word that is false.


Being true in faith to Allah, and never assigning partners to Him: if anyone assigns partners to Allah, he is as if he had fallen from heaven and been snatched up by birds, or the wind had swooped (like a bird on its prey) and thrown him into a far-distant place.


Such (is his state): and whoever holds in honour the rites of Allah, (in the sacrifice of animals), such (honour) should come truly from piety of heart.


In them ye have benefits for a term appointed: in the end their place of sacrifice is near the Ancient House.


To every people did we appoint rites (of sacrifice), that they might celebrate the name of Allah over the sustenance He gave them from animals (fit for food). But your God is One God: submit then your wills to Him (in Islam): and give thou the good news to those who humble themselves-,


To those whose hearts, when Allah is mentioned, are filled with fear, who show patient perseverance over their afflictions, keep up regular prayer, and spend (in charity) out of what we have bestowed upon them.


The sacrificial camels we have made for you as among the signs from Allah: in them is (much) good for you: then pronounce the name of Allah over them as they line up (for sacrifice). When they are down on their sides (after slaughter), eat ye thereof, and feed such as (beg not but) live in contentment, and such as beg with due humility: thus have we made animals subject to you, that ye may be grateful.


It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah: it is your piety that reaches Him: He has thus made them subject to you, that ye may glorify Allah for His guidance to you: and proclaim the Good News to all who do good. (27-37, Surah Al-Hajj)


The first House (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakka: full of blessing and of guidance for all the worlds.


In it are Signs manifest; the Station of Abraham; whoever enters it attains security; Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah,- those who can afford the journey; but if any deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures. (96-97, Surah Aal-Imran)


They ask thee concerning the New Moons. Say: They are but signs to mark fixed periods of time in (the affairs of) people. And for Pilgrimage. It is no virtue if ye enter your houses from the back: it is virtue if ye fear Allah, Enter houses through the proper doors: and fear Allah: that ye may prosper. (189, Surah Baqarah)


For Hajj are the months well known. If any one undertakes that duty therein, let there be no obscenity, nor wickedness, nor wrangling in the Hajj. And whatever good ye do, (be sure) Allah knoweth it. And take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best of provisions is right conduct. So fear Me, O ye that are wise.


It is no crime in you if ye seek of the bounty of your Lord (during pilgrimage). Then when ye pour down from (Mount) ‘Arafat, celebrate the praises of Allah at the Sacred Monument, and celebrate His praises as He has directed you, even though, before this, ye went astray.


Then return from the place whence it is usual for the multitude so to do, and ask for Allah’s forgiveness, Most Merciful.


So when ye have accomplished your rites, celebrate the praises of Allah, as ye used to celebrate the praises of your fathers, Yea, with far more heart and soul. There are men who say: “Our Lord! Give us (Thy bounties) in this world!” But they will have no portion in the Hereafter.


And there are men who say: “Our Lord! Give us Good in this world and Good in the Hereafter. And save us from the torment of the fire!”


To these will be allotted what they have earned; and Allah is quick in account.


Remember Allah during the appointed Days, but if any one hastens to leave in two days, there is no blame on him, and if any one stays on, there is no blame on him, if his aim is to do right. Then fear Allah, and know that ye will surely be gathered unto Him. (197-203, Surah Baqarah)


And complete the Hajj or ‘Umra in the service of Allah, but if ye are prevented (from completing it), send an offering for sacrifice, such as ye may find, and do not shave your heads until the offering reaches the place of sacrifice. And if any of you is ill, or has an ailment in his scalp, (necessitating shaving), (he should) in compensation either fast, or feed the poor, or offer sacrifice; and when ye are in peaceful conditions (again), if any one wishes to continue the ‘Umra on to the Hajj, he must make an offering such as he can afford, but if he cannot afford it, he should fast three days during the Hajj. And seven days on his return, making ten days in all. This is for those whose household is not in (the precincts of) the Sacred Mosque. And fear Allah. And know that Allah is strict in punishment. (196, Surah Baqarah)


Behold! Safa and Marwa are among the Symbols of Allah. So if those who visit the House in the Season or at other times, should compass them round, it is no sin in them. And if any one obeyeth his own impulse to Good,- be sure that Allah is He Who recogniseth and knoweth. (158, Surah Baqarah)


          O ye who believe! Kill not game while in the Sacred precincts or in the state of pilgrimage. If any of you doth so intentionally, the compensation is an offering, brought to the Ka’ba, of a domestic animal equivalent to the one he killed. As adjudged by two just men among you; or by way of atonement, the feeding of the indigent; or its equivalent in fasts: that he may taste of the penalty of his deed. Allah forgives what is past: for repetition Allah will punish him for Allah is Exalted, and Lord of Retribution. 


 Lawful to you is the pursuit of water-game and its use for food,-for the benefit of yourselves and those who travel; but forbidden is the pursuit of land-game:- as long as ye are in the Sacred Precincts or in the state of pilgrimage and fear Allah, to Whom ye shall be gathered back.

Allah made the Ka’ba the Sacred House, a means of support for people, as also the Sacred Months, the animals for offerings, and the garlands that mark them: that ye may know that Allah hath knowledge of what is in the heavens and on earth and that Allah is well acquainted with all things. (95-97, Surah Al-Mayedah)

       And an announcement from Allah and His Messenger, to the people (Assembled) on the day of the Great Pilgrimage - that Allah and His Messenger dissolve (treaty) obligations with the Pagans. If then, ye repent, it were best for you; but if ye turn away, know ye that ye cannot frustrate Allah, and proclaim a grievous chastisement to those who reject Faith. (3, Surah Al-Taubah)


       Do ye consider the giving of drink to pilgrims, or the maintenance of the Sacred Mosque, equal to (the pious service of) those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and strive with might and main in the cause of Allah? They are not equal in the sight of Allah: and Allah guides not those who do wrong. (19, Surah Al-Taubah).


       O ye who believe! Truly the Pagans are unclean; so let them not, after this year of theirs, approach the Sacred Mosque. And if ye fear poverty, soon will Allah enrich you, if He wills, out of His bounty, for Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. (28, Surah Al-Taubah)


       O ye who believe! Fulfill (all) obligations. Lawful unto you (for food) are all beasts of cattle with the exceptions named: but animals of the chase are forbidden while ye are in the Sacred Precincts or in the state of pilgrimage. For Allah doth command according to His will and Plan.


            O ye who believe! Violate not the sanctity of the rites of Allah, nor of the Sacred Month, nor of the animals brought for sacrifice, nor the garlands that mark out such animals, nor the people resorting to the Sacred House, seeking of the bounty and good pleasure of their Lord. But when ye are clear of the Sacred Precincts and let not the hatred of some people in (once) shutting you out of the Sacred Mosque lead you to transgression (and hostility on your part). Help ye one another in righteousness and piety, but help ye not one another in sin and rancour: fear Allah: for Allah is strict in punishment. (1-2, Surah Al-Mayedah


Pilgrimage for Purification and Integration


And the Hadith records: إن الله قد فرض عليكم الحج فحجوا (رواه مسلم) Allah has enjoined the Haj on you, so perform Haj. (from Muslim).


             THE Haj has since become incumbent upon all Muslims provided they are healthy, sane, mature, and un-indebted, endangered neither by war nor epidemic, and have the means both to make the journey  and to support any dependents left behind.

         As a concentrated expression of Islam, the Haj as defined by the Prophet of Islam has preserved in ritual form not only the profound evocation of the ancient impulse that has given birth to religion but also broadened the context of the Haj ceremonies, linking them and their Makkan sites to the legends of the   prophets – Adam, Hawwa, Ibrahim, Hajirah and Ismael. The Yawm-al-Wuquf (the Day of Standing Together before God) which is like a yearly rehearsal for the Day of Judgment assumes both spiritual and physical connotations which defy the fertile human imagination.


         Being one of mankind's most enduring pilgrimages, the Haj is a journey is at the centre of its practice and its roots reach back to the distant city of Makkah. The territory of Makkah is barren and rocky. As you enter a prayer for the prosperity of Makkah therefore includes a prayer for the good things of material life.


      On the appointed dates of Haj every year over two million Muslims from all parts of the globe come together to constitute the largest single gathering in one place at one time for one purpose on Earth. The point of this journey has always been the same - to detach a representative number of people from their homes and, by bringing them to Islam's birthplace, to emphasize the unity of all human beings before their Creator. The Haj's first requirement is to arrive on time, to keep an appointment with the Creator and the community of believers. Once in Makkah, it is a collective celebration and an intensely personal experience, the religious apex of a Muslim's life.

      The foundation of Ka’ba, the House of Allah, goes back to Abraham. Its character was fourfold: (1) it was the center to which all the Arab tribes resorted for trade; for poetic contests, and for worship (2)   it was sacred   territory,   and   was    respected   by friend and foe alike. At all seasons, all fighting was and is forbidden within its limits, and even arms are not allowed to be carried, and no game or other thing is allowed to be killed. Makkah was recognized by Arab custom as inviolable for the pursuit of revenge; (3) it was the place of prayer; (4) it must be held pure and sacred for all purposes. The root ‘salama’ in the word Islam implies, among other ideas, the idea of Peace and therefore when Makkah is the city of Islam, it is also City of Peace. The same root occurs in the latter part of the name Jerusalem, the Jewish City of Peace. When the day of Jerusalem passed, Makkah became the “New Jerusalem”-or rather the old and original “City of Peace” restored and made universal.

         The House is referred to as “My House,” to emphasize the personal relation of Allah, the One True God, to it, and repudiate the Polytheism which defiled the Ka’ba with idols, until it was sanctified again by the purity of Muhammad’s life and teaching. In his supplication upon seeing the Ka’ba, the Prophet prayed: O God, increase this House in the honour and magnification and bounty and reverence and piety that it receiveth from mankind!” The holy Quran enumerates four rites, which have now acquired a technical meaning: (1) Tawaf (2) Itikaf or retiring to the place as a spiritual retreat for contemplation and prayer (3) Ruku and (4) Sujud. The protection of the holy territory is the concern of all, but special cleanliness and purity is required for the sake of the devotees who undertake these rites.

     The integrative power of this journey attracts Muslims to the heartland of Islam and Makkah is a principal part of speech in a sacred language. As a reminder of how life ought to be lived, the journey has inspired peasants, princes, mystics and revolutionaries. For these reasons, it represents a literal trip of a lifetime. Nevertheless, it is important to understand that the pilgrimage is not just a matter of traveling to Makkah. "Arrival is", as Michael Wolfe puts it, "only a beginning. The Haj itself is a protean event composed of many stages, each one marked by a collective rite. Changing its shape and purpose day by day, the ceremony does not take place so much as it unfolds, first in a city, then on a desert, becoming by turns a circle dance, a spiritual racecourse, a procession, a camping trip in the dunes, an athletic event, a trade fair and a walking meditation. It is a kind of Muslim United Nations, too, in which people from around the world collaborate and even live together".  This General Assembly of  Islam  takes  place at the holy  baitu Allah  where the code of Ihraam relieves the pilgrim of his worldly burden and restores his human innocence even if that may last the seven rounds around the holy Kaaba, where for a brief spell he dances along with the galaxies – always anticlockwise.

       The Haj is the complete pilgrimage, of which the chief rites are performed during the first twelve or thirteen days of the month of Zul Hijja. The intending pilgrim commences by putting on a simple garment of unsewn cloth in two pieces when he is some distance yet from Makkah (Meeqat). The putting on of the ihram is symbolical of his renouncing the vanities of the world. After this and until the end of the pilgrimage he must not wear other clothes or ornaments, anoint his hair, use perfumes, hunt or do other prohibited acts. The completion of the pilgrimage is symbolised by the shaving of the head for men and the cutting off of a few locks of the hair of the head for women, the putting off of the ihram and the resumption of the ordinary dress.

        Having once undertaken the pilgrimage, it must be completed; not for worldly ends, but as a symbol of service and worship to Allah. If we are prevented, for any reason, from completing the rites, a sacrifice should be offered where the prevention took place. It any one is taken ill after putting on the ihram, so that he has to put on other clothes, or if he has trouble or skin disease and he has to shave his head before completion, he should fast three days or feed the poor or offer sacrifice.

        Hunting and the use of game are forbidden “while ye are hurumun,” i.e., while ye are (1) in the Sacred Precincts, or (2) in the special state of Ihram. The Sacred Precincts are sanctuary both for men and the beast.


      Apart from the protection or immunity enjoyed by the pilgrims, the immunity from attack or interference extended to the animals brought as offerings for sacrifice makes them as sacred symbols. The animals are useful in many ways to man. But if they are used for sacrifice, they become symbols by which men show that they are willing to give up some of their own benefits for the sake of satisfying the needs of their poorer brethren. This is the true end of sacrifice, not propitiation of higher powers, for Allah is One, and He does not delight in flesh or blood, but a symbol of thanksgiving to Allah by sharing meat with fellow-men. The solemn pronouncement of Allah’s name over the sacrifice is an essential part of the rite. Allah will accept in us the sacrifice of self for the benefit of our fellow-men.


            No one should suppose that meat or blood is acceptable to the One True God. It was a Pagan fancy that Allah could be appeased by blood sacrifice. But Allah does accept the offering of our hearts, and as a symbol of such offer, some visible institution is necessary. He has given us power over the brute creation, and permitted us to eat meat, but only if we pronounce His name at the solemn act of taking life, for without this solemn invocation, we are apt to forget the sacredness of life. By the invocation we are reminded that wanton cruelty is not in our thoughts, but only the need of food. Now if we further deny ourselves the greater part of the food for the sake of our poorer brethren in solemn assembly in the precincts of the Haram, our symbolic act finds practical expression in benevolence, and that is the virtue sought to be taught.


        Rites and ceremonies may appear to be an unimportant matter compared with the higher needs of man’s spiritual nature. But they are necessary for social and religious organization, and their effect on the individual himself is not to be despised. In any case, as they are visible external symbols, they give rise to the most heated controversies. Such controversies are to be deprecated. That does not mean that our rites and ceremonies are to be made light of. Those in Islam rest on the highest social and religious needs of man.


 Self in the Sea of Seekers


            Towards the end of the Pilgrimage the crowd is very great, and if any people loitered after ‘Arafat, it would cause great confusion and inconvenience. The pace has therefore to be quick for every one, a very salutary regulation. Every member of the crowd must think of the comfort and convenience of the whole mass. All virtue proceeds from the love and fear of Allah.


        We are warned that we must not allow our selfish passions to carry us away, because it is in such times of stress that our spirit is tested. We are also warned against the pitfalls that we must avoid in a large concourse of people. When at Sundown after a day of supplication and meditation at Arafah, the holy Prophet rode his camel with Usamah mounted behind him to leave for Muzdalifah, his fellow pilgrims rushed to follow him. But at the very first signs of excess he cried out: “Gently, gently! In quietness of soul! And let the strong amongst you have a care for the weak!”      


       In case the pilgrim has spent his money, he is shown what he can do, rich or poor, and yet holds his head high among his fellows, as having performed all rites as prescribed. Legitimate trade is allowed, in the interests both of the honest trader, who can thus meet his own expenses, and of the generality of pilgrims, who would otherwise be greatly inconvenienced for the necessities of life. The concourse in Makkah added to the profits of trade and commerce.  But the profit must be sought as from the “bounty of Allah.” There should be no profiteering or trade tricks. Good honest trade is a form of service to the community, and therefore to Allah. It is recommended that pilgrims should come with provisions, so that they should not be compelled to resort to begging. But, as usual, our thought is directed at once from the physical to the spiritual. If provisions are required for a journey on earth, how much more important is to provide for the final journey into the future world? The best of such provisions is right conduct, which is the same as the fear of Allah.


    Passing from the immediate event to the general principle, we must not retaliate or return evil for evil. The hatred of the wicked does not justify hostility on our part. In his historic sermon, the holy Prophet prohibited the killing of innocent people, the destruction of their property and the violation of their honour. We may have to fight and put down evil, but never in a spirit of malice or hatred, but always in a spirit of justice and righteousness.



           Giving drinks of cold water to thirsty pilgrims, and doing material services to a mosque are meritorious acts, but they are only external. If they do not touch the soul, their value is slight. Far greater, in the sight of Allah, are faith, endeavour, and self surrender to Allah. Men who practice these will obtain honour in the sight of Allah. Allah’s light and guidance comes to them, and not to those self-sufficient beings who think that a little show of what the world considers piety is enough. Muslims are enjoined to be strict in cleanliness, as well as in purity of mind and heart, so that their word can be relied upon.



     It we hasten to get all the good things of the world, and only think of them and pray for them, we would lose the higher things of the future. The proper Muslim attitude is neither to renounce this world nor to be so engrossed in it as to forget the future life.


Allah’s commands are not arbitrary. His Will is the perfect Archetype or Plan of the world. Everything He wills has regard to His Plan, in which are reflected His perfect wisdom and goodness.  


All sorts of people from all parts of the earth gather during the Pilgrimage. They must not think that they are strangers, that nobody knows them, and that they may behave as they like. It is the House of Allah, and He has supreme knowledge of all things, of all thoughts, and motives. While He is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful, He is also strict in enforcing respect for His ordinances.


 When the Pilgrimage was proclaimed, people came to it from every quarter, near and far, on foot and mounted. The “lean camel” coming after a fatiguing journey through distant mountain roads typifies the difficulties of travel, which Pilgrims disregard on account of the temporal and spiritual benefits.


  There are benefits both for our material life as well as for our spiritual life. Of the former kind are those associated with social intercourse which furthers trade and increases knowledge. Of the latter kind are the opportunities of realising some of our spiritual yearnings in sacred associations that go back to the most ancient times. Of both kinds may be considered the opportunities which the Haj provides for strengthening our universal brotherhood.


        The general food prohibitions are meant for health and cleanliness, but the worst abominations to shun are those of false worship and false speech.


         The qualities of Allah’s devotees are: (1) humility before Allah makes them receptive, and prepares them to listen to Allah’s Message; (2) fear of Allah, which is akin to love, touches their heart, and penetrates through their inmost being; (3) they are not afraid of anything in mortal life; they take their trials patiently, and go on in a course of righteousness with constancy; (4) their prayer now is not a matter of form, but a real communion with Allah, with a sense of confidence and (5) gratitude to Allah, as shown by practical acts of charity to all fellow-creatures.  

       The pilgrims who perform Haj are taking part in a phenomenon that tests the human family's faith in God. In this sense, the Haj is a journey through time and space for the purpose of bonding people to the ethical monotheism of Ibrahim. This dimension of the Haj penetrates its entire ritual process, connecting the present moment to the past which is brought to life in full intensity with a unique dress code and a universal linguistic code. Both the codes assume a new and uniform dimension as we hear the soulful incantation of

لبيك اللهم لبيك، لبيك لا شريك لك لبيك، إن الحمد والنعمة لك والملك لا شريك لك.


 (I respond to Your call, O Allah, I respond to Your call, and I obey Your orders. You have no partner, I respond to Your call. All the praises and blessings are for You).


            The two codes of the Ihraam and Talbiyya remain the same for the 'Hindi', the Herzegovinian, the Gambian and the Guyanese. Talbiyya means to wait in a ready state for an order or direction. This ritual choreography and these primitive looking robes are a living reality.


          When the Pilgrimage was proclaimed, people came to it from every quarter, near and far, on foot and mounted. The “lean camel” coming after a fatiguing journey through distant mountain roads typifies the difficulties of travel, which Pilgrims disregard on account of the temporal and spiritual benefits.


On the road to this spiritual emancipation, Haj is a stage about which the holy Prophet pbuh) said: “Whoever performs Haj to this house …and does not commit sins, he will come out as pure as a newborn child”. This transcendent state of mind can be achieved only through a systematic and disciplined purification.


Even in the Information Technology age, Haj remains hard to perform. Emotionally and physically it is a taxing and rigorous experience. It is this aspect on which this manual aims to concentrate. Given the intensity of prayers and the rigour of the time-bound manasiks, it is imperative to make thorough preparations before embarking on this tough journey. The preparation for the Haj should commence immediately on making niyat for performing the pilgrimage. This manual has been prepared to assist Trainers who in turn will advise intending pilgrims in this task.