Last updated on December 22nd, 2023 at 08:10 am

How to perform Hajj? Those lucky enough to be going on Hajj this year are searching for the right way to perform all the rituals and rites of this fard. Billions of Muslims around the world have been performing the yearly sacred ritual of Hajj since 629 CE, after the migration of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) from Medina to Mecca.

It is undoubtedly an extremely exciting time for those undertaking the journey, not to mention a highly spiritual and fulfilling experience.

So, if you’re among the blessed souls heading to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj 2024, this comprehensive guide will teach you about the various aspects of this holy pilgrimage and what duties will be performed along the way.

Hajj Definition

Hajj, also known as the Great Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, is one of the five mandatory Pillars of Islam. It takes place in Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

All Muslims are expected to perform Hajj at least once in their lifetime if they can afford to make the journey. According to the Georgian calendar, the dates of Hajj vary each year. However, according to the Islamic calendar, Hajj is performed annually between the 8th and 12th of Dhu al-Hijjah.

How to Perform Hajj? – A Step by Step Guide

Here is a step-wise guide on how to perform hajj:

Step 1: Make Niyyah

Before arriving at Mecca to perform Hajj, you must make the intention known as Niyyah in your heart. This means that you must intend to perform Hajj for Allah alone and not for any worldly gains, with a yearning to be blessed hereafter.

Step 2: Enter the State of Ihram

After making your Niyyah, you’ll enter into a state of ritual purity known as Ihram. While in this state, you must be extremely mindful of your words and actions. You must avoid smoking, swearing, fighting, shaving your hair, cutting your nails, and having sexual relations with your partner. Hunting or unjustifiably breaking something is also not allowed.

Wearing perfume, using scented moisturizers or makeup, and bathing with scented soaps are prohibited; however, unscented essential toiletries are allowed.

The rules about the clothing of Ihram are very simple but must be strictly adhered to. For men, the Ihram consists of two pieces of unstitched white cloth. One piece is wrapped around the shoulder, and the other is around the waist.

For women, any clothing that observes the rules of the hijab can be worn; however, completely covering the face and feet is not allowed. Both men and women must wear sandals.

These rules about clothing ensure that there isn’t any outward distinction between the pilgrims, reinforcing the belief that all beings are equal in the eyes of Allah, irrespective of ethnicity, race, financial status, etc.

Step 3: Perform Umrah

Upon arrival at Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, you must first perform Umrah, the smaller Muslim pilgrimage. This consists of two main rituals:

  • Tawaf

Tawaf refers to circling the Qibla seven times in an anti-clockwise direction. Each complete circle starts and ends at the black stone, Hajr-e-Aswad.

After completing the Tawaf, you may offer voluntary prayers or Nawafil to thank Allah for bringing you on this incredible journey and making you worthy of being able to perform this Pillar of Islam. If you are looking for the step-by-step guide to do Tawaf you can click here for a comprehensive information.

  • Sa’i

After the Tawaf, you’ll perform Sa’i, walking (and running) between the two hills of Safa and Marwa seven times.

Sa’i starts by walking from Safa towards Marwa. When you see a green marker, you’ll need to start running until you reach the next green marker and continue walking until you reach Marwa. This makes one lap; walking back to Safa from Marwa completes the second lap, and so on.

This ritual is performed in memory of Prophet Ibrahim’s wife, Hazrat Hajrah (AS), marking her struggle to find water for her son, Prophet Ismail (AS), in the desert. Symbolically, Sa’i represents the ongoing struggles we face throughout our lives and how we must tackle them with patience and belief in Allah.

On completing Sa’i, men must ideally shave their hair or can have it clipped, while women need to clip their hair to the length of their fingertips. This completes the Umrah, allowing you to ‘open’ the Ihram till the 8th of Dhu al-Hijjah. Here is a more detailed explanation of the Sa’i concept in Islam.

Step 4: 8th Dhu al-Hijjah: Day 1 of Hajj

The 8th of Dhu al-Hijjah marks the beginning of Hajj. The day 1 of Hajj is also known as the Yaum al-Tarwiyah ‘Day of Quenching Thirst.’ On this day pilgrims are required to fill their water containers to ensure that it will be sufficient during the tough journey to Mina from Makkah. You must purify yourself and enter the state of Ihram again. Once you’re ready, start reciting the following prayer called Talbiyah:

لبيك اللهم لبيك

لبيك لا شريك لك لبيك

إن الحمد والنعمة لك والملك

لا شريك لك لبيك

Labbayka Allāhumma labbayk. Labbayk lā shareeka laka labbayk. Inna al-ḥamda, wa n-‘imata, Laka wal mulk. Lā shareeka lak.

Translation: “Here I am, O Allah, here I am, here I am. You have no partner, here I am. Verily all praise and blessings are Yours, and all sovereignty. You have no partner.”

  • Staying at Mina

While reciting the Talbiyah, you will go to the tent city of Mina, approximately 8 kilometers from Mecca. Upon arrival, you’ll need to find a tent for yourself. Sometimes no tent is available, so you’ll simply need to find a space to lay down and spend the night. If you’re traveling with a group, your management will have designated a place for you.

You’ll offer Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, Isha, and Fajr prayers at Mina, shortening the four-unit prayers to two units each (without combining them) as specified in the Holy Quran. The ideal stay at Mina comprises praying to Allah, reciting the Qur’an, and preparing for day two. It is a beautiful opportunity for spiritual reflection.

Step 5: 9th Dhu al-Hijjah: Day 2 of Hajj

  • Going to Arafah

After offering Fajr prayers at Mina, you’ll head to the plains of Arafah. The Day of Arafah is marked by reciting istaghfar (asking forgiveness from Allah) and different prayers/duas asking Allah to pardon us for our sins.

It is among the most important days for Muslims, as Allah refers to the Day of Arafah in Surah al-Maidah as “the Day on which He perfected His religion, completed His favors upon the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and chose Islam as the way of life”.

Upon reaching Mount Arafah, you must recite Dhuhr and Asr prayers, shortened (two Rakat instead of four) and combined. After that, it is suggested that you stand on the plains of Arafah and focus on asking for forgiveness from Allah and blessings for you and your family, friends, relatives, neighbors, your ummah, and your fellow pilgrims.

A khutbah (sermon) will also be delivered from Masjid al-Nimra. Listen to this sermon if possible, and if you’re part of a group, you may ask for a translator to translate the sermon for you.

  • Staying at Muzdalifah

After sunset, you’ll leave Arafah and head towards Muzdalifah, an open area between Mina and Arafat. Upon reaching Muzdalifah, you’ll offer Maghrib prayers followed by Isha prayers, shortening Isha to two Rakat. Here is the reason why Muslims walk towards Muzdalifah during Hajj.

Spending the night at Muzdalifah involves worshipping, reciting the Quran, and resting. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also set an example and rested for some time before Fajr instead of staying up all night to pray, so do not exhaust yourself since there is a long day ahead.

Another important part of your stay in Muzdalifah is collecting pebbles for performing Rami (symbolic stoning of the devil/shaitaan) at the Jamarat. You can collect pebbles from anywhere in Muzdalifah. Ideally, the pebbles must be the size of date seeds.

You need to collect a total of 49 pebbles for performing Rami as follows:

  • 7 stones for the 10th of Dhu al-Hijjah
  • 21 stones for the 11th of Dhu al-Hijjah
  • 21 stones for the 12th of Dhu al-Hijjah

You should collect an additional 21 pebbles, just as a precaution, and have 70 pebbles with you. You might miss the target while performing Rami or misplace some pebbles.

Step 6: 10th Dhu al-Hijjah: Day 3 of Hajj (Beginning of Eid al-Adha)

After offering Fajr prayer, you will go from Muzdalifah to Mina while continuously reciting the Talbiyah. This day is called Yawm al-Nahr (Day of Sacrifice); for pilgrims, it is also the day of Rami – throwing pebbles at one of the Jamarat. You can also get a more detailed overview of the activities that takes place on the on the 3rd day of Hajj by clicking here.

  • Rami (Stoning of the Devil) at Jamarat al-Aqaba

Rami or stoning of the devil/shaitaan is a ritual involving throwing pebbles at three stone structures in Mina. Rami is a compulsory and highly significant ritual in Islam. This ritual is performed in memory of the actions of Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) when he was given the trial of sacrificing his son Hazrat Ismail (AS) in the name of Allah, upon His command.

On his way to fulfill Allah’s command, shaitaan repeatedly tried to dissuade Hazrat Ibrahim. As he reached the point of Jamarat al-Aqaba (depicted now as the biggest pillar), he was guided by Angel Jibril to throw seven stones at shaitaan. He did so, and Shaitaan immediately fled.

So, the three Jamarat symbolize the places where shaitaan tried to discourage Ibrahim from fulfilling Allah’s command. On reaching Jamarat, you will proceed towards Jamarat al-Aqaba and throw seven pebbles at the concrete pillar while reciting Takbir:

أكبر الله

Allāhu ‘Akbar

Translation: Allah is the Greatest

The time to complete your Rami is from Fajr on the 10th of Dhu al-Hijjah until the 11th of Dhu al-Hijjah, so don’t rush to complete the ritual. The Hajj authority generally allocates times for groups to perform Rami to avoid overcrowding and risking injuries to pilgrims.

After the sacrifice, males will shave (preferred) or trim their hair and women will cut their hair by the length of their fingertip. You can now leave the state of Ihram, wear normal clothing, and do everything that was forbidden before except indulging in sexual intimacy. It is Sunnah to apply perfume/musk.

  • Tawaf al-Ifadha

You will then proceed to Mecca to perform Tawaf al-Ifadha and Sa’i. These are obligatory rituals and must be performed after Rami and sacrifice. You can also perform these rituals on the 10th and 12th Dhu al-Hijjah

After performing these rites, you are now allowed to do everything that was disallowed in the state of Ihram, including engaging in sexual relations. You will return to your tent in Mina.

  • Eid al-Adha

Muslims around the world, those on pilgrimage and those who are not on pilgrimage will be celebrating Eid al-Adha (the Eid of Sacrifice) by slaughtering animals and taking care of the poor and needy. This ritual is performed to mark Hazrat Ibrahim’s (AS) obedience to Allah’s command and his willingness to sacrifice his son Hazrat Ismail (AS).

Step 7: 11th and 12th Dhu al-Hijjah: Days 4 and 5 of Hajj

The 11th and 12th Dhu al-Hijjah are known as Ayyam al-Tashreeq (the days of drying meat). This is because when the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), pilgrims preserved the meat obtained from sacrifice by seasoning and drying it under the sun.

Now during Hajj, these days involve staying at Mina and completing the remaining Rami rituals. On the afternoon of 11th Dhu al-Hijjah, you will proceed to the Jamarat and stone the Jamarah al-Ula (the small pillar), followed by the Jamarah al-Wusta (the middle pillar) and finally, the Jamarah al-Aqaba (the big pillar).

Each Jamarat must be stoned with seven pebbles while reciting Takbir. You will stop between the first and middle Jamarat and make a dua facing the Qibla. On completing this ritual, you will return to Mina and spend the remaining day praying and reciting the Quran.

On the 12th of Dhu al-Hijjah, you will repeat the same ritual and stone the three Jamarat.

  • Tawaf al-Wida (Farewell Tawaf)

The Farewell Tawaf is the last ritual and marks the completion of the Hajj. It is Wajib (obligatory, but less so than fard) and must be performed before stepping out of the boundaries of the Haram. Upon completing this Tawaf, you will perform two rakat of Salah and drink Zam Zam water. There isn’t any Sa’i or shaving/trimming of the hair following this tawaf.

Now that all of your rituals of Hajj are complete, you are ready to leave for Medina. You may rest for a few days and perform Umrah or leave immediately.

Dos and Don’ts of Hajj

Hajj is a very important and sacred occasion in Islam. Due to its great significance, avoiding a few common mistakes during the Hajj days is necessary. So, after going through the complete step-by-step guide to performing Hajj, let’s move towards some of the Dos and Don’ts of Hajj.

Dos of Hajj

  • The most important thing while performing Hajj is the “Intention” (Niyyah). Intention is the most fundamental thing, and it influences your future conduct. So, keeping your intentions clear and pure while preparing for Hajj is necessary.
  • Follow every ritual specified by Allah SWT, like Rami, Tawaf, and Sacrifice.
  • Show empathy towards others, as Hajj is an event where people worldwide get together. Due to this, it is necessary to keep your interaction positive with people of other countries and cultures.
  • You should follow the authorities during the Hajj days to avoid any problems.
  • You should stay hydrated as Hajj requires a lot of physical activity.
  • Hajj is a very unique and effective opportunity to connect with Allah SWT. So, don’t miss that opportunity and seek forgiveness from Allah SWT with a pure heart.

Don’ts of Hajj

  • Hajj is an event of cultural and religious harmony. So, you should keep yourself away from arguments and debates with fellow pilgrims as it is against the teachings of Islam.
  • Don’t forget to maintain your hygiene.
  • Don’t waste anything like food, water, or any other resource; instead, give extra supplies to the ones who are needy.
  • Don’t live these sacred days as your normal ones by engaging in unnecessary activities like excessive use of social media, etc.
  • Don’t harm any living creature during the Hajj. Show empathy towards the life of every living thing.


For those going for Hajj 2024, we hope this guide will assist you on your journey and help you easily undertake all the rituals.

And don’t feel disheartened for those unable to perform the greater pilgrimage to Mecca this year. The first to tenth Dhu al-Hijjah is considered the best day of the year to earn Allah’s mercy and forgiveness after Ramadan, so you can also make the most of this sacred month by praying, fasting, and reciting the Quran at home.

May Allah accept our Ibadah!


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