Hajj, the significant Islamic pilgrimage, is a spiritual journey that every Muslim yearns to undertake at least once in their lifetime. However, there exists a term, Hajj-e-Akbar, which often creates curiosity among many. This article is a detailed exposition of Hajj-e-Akbar, also known as the Greater Hajj.
The Significance of Hajj-e-Akbar in Islamic History
The term Hajj-e-Akbar, or the Greater Hajj, has a deep historical resonance within Islamic tradition. It refers to the occasion when the day of Arafah (the 9th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the twelfth Islamic lunar month) coincides with a Friday. This alignment is considered special because of the religious significance of Friday in Islam, thus making it an auspicious occasion.
Historically, it is believed that Prophet Muhammad performed his first and only Hajj on a Hajj-e-Akbar. Hence, this event holds a special place in Islamic history, being seen as a more blessed occasion for the pilgrimage.
The Benefits of Performing Hajj-e-Akbar for Muslims
The act of performing Hajj-e-Akbar comes with its unique set of blessings and spiritual benefits. Here are a few to consider:
Muslims believe that successfully completing Hajj leads to the forgiveness of all past sins. When it comes to Hajj-e-Akbar, the rewards are thought to be even greater.
The spiritual satisfaction that comes from performing Hajj-e-Akbar is profound, increasing the individual's faith and connection with Allah.
Performing Hajj-e-Akbar fosters a sense of unity and togetherness among Muslims, strengthening the bond of the Ummah (global Muslim community).
Also Read: Can I Perform Hajj Every Year?
Step-by-step Guide to Performing Hajj-e-Akbar
Embarking on the Hajj-e-Akbar pilgrimage involves the following crucial steps. Each step is deeply symbolic and contributes to the overall spiritual significance of the pilgrimage:
1). Ihram (Entering the Sacred State):
The very first step of the Hajj-e-Akbar journey is to enter into the state of Ihram. This involves ritual purification, donning the special Ihram clothing (two seamless white garments for men, while women can wear any modest dress), and making the intention for Hajj.
It is during this state that certain activities, like cutting hair or nails, hunting, and engaging in marital relations, are strictly forbidden.
2). Tawaf (Circumambulation of the Kaaba):
Upon reaching the sacred city of Mecca, pilgrims perform the Tawaf, which involves circumambulating the Kaaba seven times in a counterclockwise direction.
This act signifies the unity of the believers in the worship of the One God, as they move harmoniously together around their central covenant.
3). Sa'ee (Running between the hills of Safa and Marwah):
Following the Tawaf, pilgrims perform Sa'ee, which consists of walking or running seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwah. This ritual commemorates the search for water by Hagar, the wife of Abraham, for her son Ishmael.
4). Day of Arafah:
On the 9th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, which must be a Friday for Hajj to be considered Hajj-e-Akbar, pilgrims gather on the plain of Arafah for the most important part of Hajj - the Day of Arafah.
Here, they stand in contemplative vigil and offer prayers, seeking forgiveness for their sins. This act signifies standing in the presence of God on the Day of Judgment.
6). Night in Muzdalifah:
After sunset, pilgrims move to Muzdalifah, an area between Arafah and Mina, where they spend the night under the open sky. Here, they collect pebbles for the upcoming stoning ritual.
7). Stoning the Jamarat (Symbolic Stoning of the Devil):
On the following day, pilgrims proceed to Mina to perform a symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing the collected pebbles at three pillars known as Jamarat. This ritual signifies the rejection of evil and temptation.
This is the final ritual of Hajj-e-Akbar. An animal, usually a sheep or a goat, is sacrificed in remembrance of Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to God. This meat is then distributed to the poor and needy.
It's important to remember that Hajj-e-Akbar is identical to the regular Hajj in terms of the rites performed. The distinguishing factor is the timing - Hajj becomes Hajj-e-Akbar when the day of Arafah coincides with a Friday.
Also Read: When Hajj Became Farz?
Why Hajj-e-Akbar is Different from Hajj?
Although Hajj and Hajj-e-Akbar involve the same rituals, there is a key difference. Hajj-e-Akbar is considered to have increased spiritual merit because it occurs when the day of Arafah aligns with a Friday.
The term does not imply additional rituals, but instead signifies an enhancement of spiritual rewards and blessings.
Why is Hajj-e-Akbar Also Known as the Greater Hajj?
Hajj-e-Akbar gets its name, the Greater Hajj, due to the increased spiritual significance when the day of Arafah coincides with Friday, considered the "master of days" in Islam.
The term 'greater' doesn't imply additional rituals but signifies the perceived increased spiritual rewards and blessings.
The Role of Prophet Muhammad in Establishing Hajj-e-Akbar
The Prophet Muhammad played a pivotal role in establishing Hajj-e-Akbar. In 632 AD, he performed his only Hajj, which happened to be a Hajj-e-Akbar.
This event, often referred to as the Farewell Pilgrimage, is significant as Prophet Muhammad delivered his Farewell Sermon during this Hajj. His performance of the Hajj-e-Akbar set a precedent for Muslims, adding to the occasion's spiritual significance.
Hajj-e-Akbar is indeed a spiritually elevated form of Hajj, revered by Muslims worldwide. Its historical significance, coupled with its profound spiritual benefits, makes it a highly desired occasion for Muslims to perform their pilgrimage.
As one delves deeper into understanding Hajj-e-Akbar, it is clear that it isn't just a ritualistic practice, but a journey towards spiritual growth and self-discovery.
Recommended Books About Hajj
Hajj & Umrah and Visitors by Abdullah ibn Said ibn Jirash
Hajj - Umrah & Ziyarah by Shaikh Ibn Baz
Hajj & Umrah (Pocket Guide) by Abu Muneer Ismail Davids
Getting the Best Out of Al Hajj (Pilgrimage) by Abu Muneer Ismail Davids
Tell Me About Hajj by Saniyasnain Khan
75 Questions & Answers on Hajj, Umrah by Dr. Zahoor Ali Shaikh
Messenger Performed Hajj by Sheikh Saleh Bin Abdul Aziz Bin Muhammad Al-Sheikh
Masnoon Hajj, Umrah by Darussalam Research Center
The Methodology of Hajj and Umrah by Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Saalih al-Uthaymeen
FAQs about Hajj-e-Akbar
Does Hajj-e-Akbar occur every year?
No, Hajj-e-Akbar doesn't occur every year. It happens when the day of Arafah (9th day of Dhu al-Hijjah) coincides with a Friday.
Are there additional rituals in Hajj-e-Akbar compared to Hajj?
No, the rituals of Hajj and Hajj-e-Akbar are the same. The difference lies in the increased spiritual significance when Arafah Day aligns with a Friday.
What are the benefits of performing Hajj-e-Akbar?
Muslims believe that the blessings and spiritual rewards of performing Hajj-e-Akbar are greater compared to a regular Hajj due to its alignment with Friday.
What role did Prophet Muhammad play in Hajj-e-Akbar?
Prophet Muhammad performed his only Hajj on a Hajj-e-Akbar, establishing it as a more auspicious occasion for the pilgrimage.
In conclusion, whether you are preparing for Hajj-e-Akbar or simply want to understand it better, understanding its significance can lead to a deeper appreciation of Islamic practices and beliefs. The convergence of faith, spirituality, and tradition in Hajj-e-Akbar resonates deeply with Muslims around the world, making it a truly enriching and unique aspect of Islam.
To provide you with more information and context about Hajj-e-Akbar and its various components. These can help deepen your understanding and reinforce the authenticity of the content presented:
Day of Arafah - AboutIslam.net
Night in Muzdalifah - IslamQA
Sacrifice during Hajj - Islamic Relief UK