“And proclaim to the people the Hajj [pilgrimage]; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass.” (Quran 22:27)

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and it is obligatory to perform it at least once in your lifetime: especially those Muslims (adults) who own the means for this pilgrimage.

According to the Islamic calendar, Hajj begins on the eighth day of Dhul-Hijjah and ends on the thirteenth day of the same Islamic month: there are many rituals in the performance of Hajj and these may be completed over the course of the 5 days. The processions for this Holy ritual are soon to begin as Hajj 2017 will approximately take place between 30th August and 4th September. Just like every year, more than 2 million Muslims will participate in this holy pilgrimage to the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Hajj is a central pillar of Islam and is a testament of Muslim solidarity and their submission to the Almighty Allah. The Pilgrimage allows Muslims from all over the world to come together, irrespective of their race, caste and cultural differences and unites them under the banner of Islam and renders them equal in the eyes of Allah Almighty. In addition, it not only cleanses the soul but also brings those who perform Hajj closer to Allah and to each other under the brotherhood of Islam.

“And [mention] when We made the House a place of return for the people and [a place of] security. And take, [O believers], from the standing place of Abraham a place of prayer. And We charged Abraham and Ishmael, [saying], "Purify My House for those who perform Tawaf and those who are staying [there] for worship and those who bow and prostrate [in prayer]” (2:125)

The Hajj is also a remembrance of the sacrifices that Ibrahim made for the religion of Islam and for abolishing polytheism and establishing monotheism; making the Ka’bah a center for Muslims.

In addition, Hajj is also a way to seek forgiveness from Allah. According to a hadith reported by Abu Hurairah (RA), the Prophet (PBUH) said:

“Whoever performs Hajj for Allah's pleasure and does not have sexual relations with his wife, and does not do evil or sins then he will return (after Hajj free from all sins) as if he were born anew” (Bukhari 26:596).

Hence, it is imperative for those of able means – wealth and physical fitness – to perform Hajj once in their lifetime. Delaying Hajj when you have the means for it is a serious sin. Therefore those Muslims who can and are capable should make sure to perform Hajj in 2017 and avail this opportunity to become closer to Allah Almighty.

“Hajj is [during] well-known months, so whoever has made Hajj obligatory upon himself therein [by entering the state of ihram], there is [to be for him] no sexual relations and no disobedience and no disputing during Hajj. And whatever good you do - Allah knows it. And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is fear of Allah . And fear Me, O you of understanding (Quran 2:197).

May Almighty Allah make it easy for us all to fulfill this obligation to the best of our abilities (Ameen).