There are three forms of Hajj:
- Hajj At-Tamattu’:
This is where a pilgrim assumes Ihraam for ‘Umrah only, during the months of Hajj, which means that when he reaches Makkah, he makes Tawaaf and Sa’i for ‘Umrah. Then he shaves or clips his hair. On the eighth day of Thul-Hijjah, the pilgrim assumes Ihraam again for Hajj only and carries out all of its requirements.
- Hajj Al-Ifraad:
This is where a pilgrim assumes Ihraam for Hajj only. When he reaches Makkah, he performs Tawaaf for his arrival and Sa’i for Hajj. He does not shave or clip his hair as he does not disengage from Ihraam. Instead, he remains in Ihraam until afterhe stones the Jamratul–’Aqabah on ‘Eed day. It is permissible for him to postpone his Sa’i for Hajj until after his Tawaaf for Hajj (i.e. Tawaaf Al-Ifaadhah).
- Hajj Al-Qiraan:
This is where a pilgrim assumes Ihraam for both ‘Umrah and Hajj, or he assumes Ihraam first for ‘Umrah, then makes his intention for Hajj before his Tawaaf for Hajj. The obligations on one performing Ifraad are the same as those on one performing Qiraan, except that the latter must slaughter whereas the former is not obligated to do so.
The best of the three forms is Tamattu’. It is the form that the Prophet encouraged his followers to perform.
Hajj is undertaken in company with all the other pilgrims. The months of Hajj are: Shawwal, Thul-Qi’dah and Thul-Hijjah (the last three months of the Hijri calendar). One can perform ‘Umrah for Hajj At-Tamattu’ at any time within these three months (i.e. he may perform ‘Umrah during the Hajj season, and then subsequently making Hajj the same year at the fixed time, beginning on the eighth day of Thul-Hijjah).
The Makkan territory is sacred. The pilgrim enters this territory in a state of Ihraam (a state in which one is forbidden to do certain things that are otherwise permissible).
Ihraam, for men, entails wearing a special garment. A male pilgrim is not allowed to wear form-fitting clothes or to cover his head or hands with gloves, or his feet with socks or shoes. This is done in order to foster a sense of humility and a feeling of brotherhood among the Muslims.
The male pilgrim’s garment consists of two sheets of white woollen or cotton cloth, of which one is wrapped around the waist and reaches below the knees and above the ankles, while the other is wrapped around the upper part of the body. The head and the right shoulder are left uncovered during Tawaaf. This attire is for males, whereas females have to cover all of their body except the face and hands.
Before donning this dress, the pilgrim is recommended to take a bath (Ghusl). A man in Ihraam is consecrated. He cannot hunt, pick plants, shed blood, or have sexual intercourse or partake in whatever leads to it.
The excellence of Hajj:
- It is one of the best deeds:
Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet was once asked: “What is the best deed?” He replied: “To believe in Allaah and His Messenger.” The enquirer then asked: “What next?” The Prophet replied: “To fight in the cause of Allaah.” He again asked: “What is the next best thing?” He replied: “Hajj ‘Mabroor’ (i.e., the Hajj that is free of sin and all its pillars and conditions are fulfilled).”[Al-Bukhaari]
- It is a form of Jihaad:
Al-Hasan Ibn ‘Ali and his father, said that a man came to the Prophet and said: “I am a coward and a weak person. Is there anything I can do?” The Prophet replied: “You may go for a Jihaad that involves no fighting, that is, Hajj.” [‘Abdur-Razzaaq and At-Tabaraani]
The Prophet also said: “Hajj is the Jihaad for the old, the weak and the women.” [An-Nasaa’i]
- It wipes away past sins:
Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet said: “He who performs Hajj seeking Allaah’s pleasure and avoids all lewdness and sins (therein) will return after Hajj free from all sins, just as he was on the day his mother gave birth to him.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
- Pilgrims are the Guests of Allaah:
The Prophet said: “Pilgrims and those performing ‘Umrah are Allaah’s guests; their prayers are answered and their supplications for forgiveness are granted.” [An-Nasaa’i and Ibn Maajah]
- The Reward of Hajj is Paradise:
The Prophet said: “All sins committed in between the performance of one ‘Umrah and the next are expiated and erased, and the reward of Hajj ‘Mabroor’ is nothing save Paradise.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]