More than two million Muslims from across the globe gathered on Tuesday 18th Dec,07 around Mount Arafat, near Makkah, Saudia Arabia for Haj – The Holy Pilgrimage.
It is incumbent upon Muslims to perform Haj, at least once in a lifetime, as long as they possess the means.
“Pilgrimage to the House is a duty to God for all who can make the Journey.”
The root meaning of the word Haj is “to set out” or “to make pilgrimage.” Canonically, it has come to refer to a Muslim act of worship, performed annually, in which the worshiper circumambulates the House of God- The Holy Kabah in Mecca, stays awhile in the plain of Arafat and performs other rites which together constitute Haj — the act of pilgrimage.
Haj is a comprehensive act of worship, involving both financial outlay and physical exertion. Both remembrance of God and sacrifice for His sake are part and parcel of Haj.
“Haj is to stand in the plain of Arafat.” These words of the Prophet Muhammad illustrate the importance of sojourning in the place. The plain of Arafat, in which pilgrims spend one day, presents a picture of the arena of Judgement Day. Host upon host of God’s servants flock in from all sides to witness the spectacle. And what a spectacle! All are dressed in similar, simple attire. There is nothing to single out any person. All are reciting the same words: “Here we are at Your service, Lord,” How can one who witnesses this spectacle but call to mind the like of this verse of the Quran:
“When the Trumpet is blown, and behold, from the graves they rush forth to their lord.” (36.51)
The pilgrims gather on the plain of Arafat in order to recall the time when they will gather on the plain of the last day. What they will experience in practice in the next world, they conjure up visions of in this world.
Source: Hajj in Islam
Pictures: Hajj Pics on Slate and Dawn.com