hajj (häj), the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, one of the five basic requirements (arkan or "pillars" ) of Islam. Its annual observance corresponds to the major holy day id al-adha, itself a commemoration of Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his son on Divine orders. While the hajj is a religious obligation to be fulfilled at least once in the course of the life of each Muslim, religious law grants many exclusions on grounds of hardship. The hajj is a series of extensively detailed rituals. These include wearing a special garment that symbolizes unity and modesty, collective circumambulations of the Kaaba, and the symbolic stoning of evil. A central event of the pilgrimage is at the station on the plain of Arafat, some ten miles from Mecca, where, the massive crowds notwithstanding, the pilgrim is required to be completely alone with God performing the rite of wuquf or "standing." It is here that the Prophet Muhammad addressed his followers during his last pilgrimage. The Mecca rituals are customarily followed by a visit to the Prophet's Mosque in Medina. The hajj, gathering some 2 to 3 million Muslims annually today, was perhaps the greatest impetus to voluntary mobility before modern times. The economic, cultural, and political importance of this major annual gathering of Muslims from around the world has further increased with the advent of telecommunications and transport technologies, though the increased numbers have taxed the available facilities. Those who have completed the pilgrimage are entitled to add the phrase al-Hajj or hajji (pilgrim) to their name.

See R. F. Burton's Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to el-Medinah and Meccah (1857); J. S. Birks, Across the Savannas to Mecca (1978); S. M. Zafar, Haj (1978); G. A. W. Makky, Mecca (1978); V. Porter, ed., Hajj (2012).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Hajj: Selected full-text books and articles

The Hajj Today: A Survey of the Contemporary Makkah Pilgrimage By David Edwin Long State University of New York Press, 1979
iMuslims: Rewiring the House of Islam By Gary R. Bunt University of North Carolina Press, 2009
Saudi Arabia By Sherifa Zuhur ABC-Clio, 2011
Islam: A Guide for Jews and Christians By F.E Peters Princeton University Press, 2005
The Hajj: Centering the Muslim World By Noakes, Greg Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Vol. XI, No. 8, April 30, 1996
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