Hajj season begins in United Arab Emirates
Hajj Season Begins in the United Arab Emirates
The Hajj season is a significant event in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the entire Muslim world. The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is a mandatory religious duty for adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey. The local name for this event in the Arabic language is "الحج," which means "pilgrimage."
The Hajj season in the UAE takes place during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah, the twelfth and last month of the Islamic lunar calendar. The dates change every year due to the lunar calendar being approximately 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar. As a result, the Hajj season shifts each year, moving backward through the Gregorian calendar.
The history of the Hajj goes back to the time of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), who is considered the founding father of monotheism in Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. The first Hajj pilgrimage in the UAE took place after the country's formation in 1971. Since then, the UAE has sent official government-sponsored Hajj missions to Saudi Arabia, providing assistance and services to Emirati pilgrims during their journey.
National customs for Hajj in the United Arab Emirates
National customs for Hajj in the UAE are consistent with the broader Islamic customs for the pilgrimage. Emirati pilgrims, like all other Muslims, are required to perform specific rituals during the Hajj, including:
- Wearing Ihram – a specific state of spiritual purity and simple white garments worn by male pilgrims. Women are required to dress modestly, covering their heads but not their faces.
- Tawaf – the act of circling the Kaaba, the holiest site in Islam, seven times in a counterclockwise direction.
- Sa'ee – walking or running between the hills of Safa and Marwah, retracing the steps of Hagar, the wife of Prophet Ibrahim, as she searched for water for her son Ishmael.
- Standing at Arafat – spending the afternoon on the plain of Arafat, praying and asking for forgiveness from Allah.
- Stoning the Devil – throwing pebbles at three stone pillars, symbolizing the rejection of Satan's temptations.
Local customs for Hajj in the United Arab Emirates
In addition to the rituals mentioned above, some local customs specific to Emirati pilgrims include:
- Traveling in groups – Emirati pilgrims often travel in groups led by experienced guides, known as "Mutawwif," who are knowledgeable in the rites and rituals of the Hajj and help provide a smooth experience.
- Carrying the UAE flag – Emirati pilgrims often carry the national flag during their journey to represent their country and showcase their national pride.
- Visiting Madinah – Many Emirati pilgrims extend their journey to visit the city of Madinah, the resting place of Prophet Muhammad, before or after their Hajj rituals.
The Hajj season is a significant event in the UAE, reflecting the deep-rooted Islamic traditions and faith of its citizens. The pilgrimage is a journey of spiritual purification and an opportunity for Emirati Muslims to fulfill their religious duty while also showcasing their national identity and pride. With every passing year, the Hajj remains a central aspect of the religious and cultural life of the United Arab Emirates.