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Chapter 4: The Pilgrimage of Islam (Continues)

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By: Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri

Chapter 4 (Continues)
The Pilgrimage Today



F.      The Lesser Pilgrimage (‘umrah)


The Arabic word for the Lesser Pilgrimage is 'umrah: which means ‘a visit’, but with reference to Islam it means visiting the Ka‘bah in a specified manner.



Commendable or Obligatory


The Hanafis and Malikis maintain that the Lesser Pilgrimage is commendable but not obligatory.  The Shafi‘is, Hanbalis and many of the Ja‘faris maintain that it is obligatory for anyone who is capable of undertaking the journey, for God says:


            And complete the Greater and Lesser Pilgrimage for Allah. (2:196)


Kinds of Pilgrimage


The Lesser Pilgrimage is of two kinds: separate, which is an entity completely apart from the Greater Pilgrimage, and conjoined, which is performed in conjunction with the Greater Pilgrimage.  The separate, or independent, Lesser Pilgrimage is permissible throughout the year, according to all the schools of law.  According to the Ja‘faris, the best time is during the month of Rajab, while according to the others the month of Ramadan is best.  The Lesser Pilgrimage that is joined with the Greater Pilgrimage is performed by pilgrims from distant countries in a single journey, the rites of the Lesser Pilgrimage being performed before the rites of the Greater.


            The Lesser Pilgrimage that is joined to the Greater may be performed in the months of Shawwal, Dhu ’l-Qa‘dah and Dhu ’l-Hijjah by agreement of all the schools.  They differ, however, as to whether the entire month of Dhu ’l-Hijjah may be considered, or just the first third of it.  When a person performs the Lesser Pilgrimage in conjunction with the Greater, the Lesser no longer remains obligatory for him according to those who deem its performance obligatory.



Difference between the Two Kinds of Lesser Pilgrimage


The Ja‘faris have differentiated between the conjoined and separate Lesser Pilgrimage in certain matters:

1.         The circumambulation called the ‘circumambulation of women’ is obligatory in the separate but not in the conjoined Lesser Pilgrimage.

The time for the conjoined Lesser Pilgrimage begins at the commencement of Shawwal and extends to the ninth of Dhu ’l-Hijjah, while the time of the detached Lesser Pilgrimage is throughout the entire year.

3.         A person who performs the conjoined Lesser Pilgrimage may only cut either his hair or one of his nails, whereas anyone who performs the separate Lesser Pilgrimage has a choice between cutting his hair and shaving his head or cutting one of his nails.

4.         The conjoined Lesser Pilgrimage is always performed in the same year as the Greater Pilgrimage, whereas this is not true of the separate Lesser Pilgrimage.



Actions to be carried out during the Lesser Pilgrimage


All that is obligatory and commendable for the Greater Pilgrimage applies to the Lesser although there are certain differences.  The time for the Lesser Pilgrimage is not fixed, nor does it expire; furthermore, there is no halt for stoning at ‘Arafat nor in Muzdalifah and Mina.


The obligatory actions of the detached Lesser Pilgrimage are eight, according to the Ja‘faris:


            (1) having the intention;

            (2) wearing the ihram and observing the conditions thereto attached;

            (3) circumambulating;

            (4) performing the two cycles of prayer at the station of Abraham;

            (5) going between Safa and Marwah;

            (6) cutting the hair or nails;

            (7) making the circumambulation of women;

            (8) performing two more cycles of prayer at the station of Abraham.


            Only the first six acts apply to the attached Lesser Pilgrimage.  According to the Ja‘faris, the ihram must be put on at the designated places, as is the case with the Greater Pilgrimage, but according to the other four schools it may be put on anywhere.  Also, the four schools do not include the circumambulation of women and the two cycles of prayer connected therewith, and the Malikis maintain that cutting the hair or nails is obligatory.  The Hanbalis declare that there is no Lesser Pilgrimage for the people of Makkah, because the most important act is the circumambulation around the Ka‘bah, and they do it all the time.



Lesser Pilgrimage Obligatory in its own Right


The obligatory nature of the separate Lesser Pilgrimage is not necessarily connected with the ability to make the Greater Pilgrimage.  If a person be in a position to perform the Lesser Pilgrimage at a time other than that of the Greater Pilgrimage, for instance, because he is travelling and comes close to Makkah, he  must make the Lesser Pilgrimage.  If a person dies without performing it, the expenses for it should be taken from the property he leaves.  Similarly, if a person is capable of performing the separate Greater Pilgrimage (i.e. the Greater Pilgrimage performed without the Lesser Pilgrimage), it is obligatory to do so, because both pilgrimages are entities in their own right.



Preferred Actions before Safa and Marwah


According to the Ja‘faris certain actions which come after the prayer at the station of Abraham, and precede going between Safa and Marwah, are to be preferred (mustahabb).  They include the following: drawing one’s hand over the Black Stone; drinking from the water of Zamzam and sprinkling it on oneself; and leaving the Sacred Mosque through the door facing the Black Stone.


            It is well known that the Prophet went out from the gate of Safa and ascended the hill of Safa until he could see the Ka‘bah.  Facing it, he declared the Unity of God three times and magnified Him.  Then, praising God, he said,


            There is no god except God: He is One and has no partner.  To Him belong the Sovereignty and the Praise.  He gives life and causes death, and He is powerful over everything.  There is no god except God: He is One.  He has fulfilled His promise and granted victory to His slave, vanquishing all the parties [of the infidels].  He is One.



Safa and Marwah


All schools agree that the act of going between Safa and Marwah follows the rite of circumambulation and the two cycles of prayer after the circumambulation, for those who consider them obligatory.  They also agree that anyone who goes between Safa and Marwah before circumambulating should repeat the rite after the circumambulation.


            Although there is agreement between the schools about the necessity of going between Safa and Marwah, they disagree about whether it is an optional rite of the Pilgrimage or an obligatory one.  According to the Ja‘fari, Shafi‘i and Maliki schools it is an optional rite, while according to the Hanafi it is an obligatory one.  Two different traditions can be traced back to Ahmad ibn Hanbal, which lead to two divergent opinions for the Hanbalis.


            The pilgrim ascends Safa, faces the Ka‘bah praises God and magnifies Him.  After seven times repeating ‘Allahu Akbar’, a certain phrase  in remembrance of God may be repeated, and, after this, a certain supplication is recommended.  There is no divergence between the Ja‘fari and other schools in this matter, except for some difference in the expressions used.  Ritual purification is not obligatory for going between Safa and Marwah.





All the schools agree that the number of times one must go ‘between the minaret and the lane of Perfumiers’ should preferably begin at Safa and end at Marwah.  They also agree that the distance ‘between the minaret and the Lane of Perfumiers’ should preferably be covered at a fast pace, that is, faster than a normal walk.  All but the Hanbalis permit the use of a means of conveyance, regardless of whether one can walk or not.  The Hanbalis say that it is permissible only for one who cannot walk.  Furthermore, all but the Hanbalis, who consider continuity obligatory, allow some interruption in the seven trips between Safa and Marwah.  The Malikis say that as long as the interruption is not too long it is allowed.


            The Ja‘faris hold that it is obligatory while going to and fro, to keep the front of one’s body turned towards one’s destination.  Turning away from it, walking backwards or in a lateral way is not correct.  However, there is nothing wrong in turning the face from side to side in the course of movement while continuing to face the destination.



Rules for Going between Safa and Marwah


A person who  cannot  perform  the  rite  either  on  foot  or  on  a mount may delegate another to perform it on his or her behalf, and the Pilgrimage will still be correct.


            If someone intentionally goes between the two hills more than seven times, the whole action is invalid.  If anyone after finishing the rite should entertain doubt about the number of trips made, his action is assumed to have been correct and nothing is required of him.  According to the Ja‘faris, however, should the doubt occur before finishing the rite, whether of having exceeded or fallen short of the required number, the rite is invalid and must be re-enacted.


            If a person has recorded the number of trips performed but doubts whether the first round began from Safa or Marwah, he should carefully consider which the number is his present trip and the direction he is facing; if, for instance, the number is even (i.e. two, four or six) and one is at Safa or facing it, the act of going between Safa and Marwah is correct, because the facts show that he had begun at Safa.  Similarly, he is performing this action correctly if the number is odd (three, five or seven) and he is at Marwah or facing it.  But if the case is the reverse, that is, in an even-numbered trip he is facing Marwah, or in an odd-numbered trip facing Safa, his traversing the distance between Safa and Marwah it is invalid and should be repeated.


            According to the Hanafis, the Pilgrimage is not invalid even if the trips between Safa and Marwah be omitted altogether, because they are not an obligatory rite: one may perform a sacrifice to compensate for its omission.



Cutting the Hair or Nails


According to the Hanbalis and Malikis, it is necessary to shave or shorten the entire head of hair.  According to the Hanafis, cutting or shaving one-fourth of the head is sufficient; according to the Shafi‘is, cutting three hairs suffices; and according to the Ja‘faris, one has the choice of shortening either the hair of the head, the beard, the moustache or the fingernails.  All five schools agree that cutting the hair is an obligatory rite, though not a fundamental part of the Pilgrimage.


            According to the Ja‘faris if a person is travelling on the Greater Pilgrimage from outside the environs of Makkah and performs the Lesser Pilgrimage first, he may not shave his head but must only cut the hair of the head, beard or moustache, or clip one fingernail.  If he is performing the Lesser Pilgrimage without joining it to the Greater, he may do either.


            Also according to the Ja‘faris if a pilgrim from outside the Sacred Precinct intentionally omits to cut the hair and then puts on the garment for the Greater Pilgrimage, the performance of the Lesser Pilgrimage is thereby rendered void.  One must then change the intention of performing the Lesser Pilgrimage before the Greater Pilgrimage to the intention of performing the Greater Pilgrimage on its own.  The Lesser Pilgrimage is then performed again after the Greater.  If one can, it is better to perform the Lesser and Greater Pilgrimage in the correct sequence the following year.  Should, however, one forget to cut the hair and put on the garment for the Pilgrimage, the Lesser Pilgrimage is not invalid.  It is preferable, but not obligatory, to sacrifice a sheep as compensation for having forgotten.




G.      The Greater Pilgrimage


The Arabic word for the Greater Pilgrimage is hajj, and derives from the verb hajja, which means to go to or visit a place in honour and respect, adoration and worship. As with many Arabic words, this meaning extends from a primary meaning, which is, ‘to convince with proof’ or ‘overcome (with arguments or evidence)’.




Four schools of law, the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi‘i and Hanbali, recognize three kinds of Greater Pilgrimage:


  1. the Greater Pilgrimage, which is preceded by the Lesser Pilgrimage;

  2. the Greater Pilgrimage which is followed by the Lesser Pilgrimage without the pilgrim doffing the ihram;

  3. the Greater Pilgrimage, which is followed by the Lesser Pilgrimage, but during the interval between them the pilgrim removes his ihram.


All five schools agree that in the first kind the pilgrim performs the Lesser Pilgrimage in the specified months,  whereupon he is released from the obligation of ihram and its attendant prohibitions.  When the Greater Pilgrimage occurs, the pilgrim reassumes the dress and so comes under its conditions.


            The four schools make it is permissible for anyone, whether a resident of the Sacred Precinct or not, to choose any one of the three kinds of Pilgrimage one desires.  The Hanafis, however, contend that it is undesirable for a Makkan to perform the first two kinds.  The four schools of law differ among themselves as to which of the three is more preferable.  The Shafi‘is maintain that the first and third are superior to the second; the Hanafis hold that the second is superior for a non-resident of the Sacred Precinct; the Malikis, that the third is superior; and the Hanbalis that the first is superior.


            The Ja‘faris assert that the second and third kind are not distinguished by removing or not removing the ihram before the Lesser Pilgrimage: rather, the two kinds are distinguished by bringing or not bringing an animal for sacrifice.  According to the Ja‘faris the Lesser and Greater Pilgrimages cannot be performed together without removing the ihram, nor can a pilgrim make a single intention that includes the performance of both.


            According to the Ja‘faris, the first kind of Pilgrimage  is obligatory for one who lives 48 miles or more from Makkah, and he may not choose any other kind save in an emergency.  As for the other two kinds the choice of one of them is obligatory for the people of Makkah and those who live up to 48 miles away.  For these people, the first kind is not permissible unless unavoidably necessary, such as when a woman anticipates menstruation.


            All five schools concur that with the third kind it is not obligatory to offer sacrifice, but if one do so it is admirable.



Obligatory Acts


According to the Ja‘faris, the obligatory acts to be performed during the Greater Pilgrimage are thirteen:


  1. having the intention;

  2. assuming the ihram and its conditions;

  3. halting in ‘Arafat;

  4. halting in Muzdalifah; 

  5. entering Mina;

  6. lapidation (stoning);

  7. slaughtering an animal;

  8. shaving the head or cutting the hair;

  9. circumambulating;

  10. performing two cycles of prayer at the Station of Abraham;

  11. going between Safa and Marwah;

  12. making the circumambulation of women, and

  13. performing two more cycles of prayer at the Station of Abraham.


The New Moon of Dhu ’l-Hijjah


Usually the determination of the new moon of Dhu ’l-Hijjah is the responsibility of the authorities of Makkah.  It is unusual for Muslim scholars to question the validity of the sighting.  It is conceded by most ‘Ulama’ that the pilgrim should be in ‘Arafat, halting with the other pilgrims, for his pilgrimage to be correct.



Living within the Sacred Precinct


The pilgrim who lives within the Sacred Precinct, as well as the pilgrim who lives outside and has performed the Lesser Pilgrimage before the Greater, both assume the ihram in Makkah.  All of the conditions which apply to the state of ihram must be observed.  If possible, one should put on the garment at one's residence within the Sacred Precinct, then go to the Station of Abraham or the Wall of Ishmael to formulate the intention to undertake the Pilgrimage, and to pronounce the devotional call.



Before the Halt in ‘Arafat


There is consensus among the schools of law that it is preferable for the pilgrim to go out from Makkah, in pilgrim’s garb, on the eighth of Dhu ’l-Hijjah, passing through Mina on his way to ‘Arafat.  According to the Ja‘faris it is preferable not to leave Makkah before offering the afternoon and late afternoon prayers.  The other schools hold that it is preferable to offer them in Mina.


            It is permissible to proceed to ‘Arafat a day or two before, particularly for the ill, the elderly, women, and those who suffer from claustrophobia.  Also, it is permissible to delay leaving for ‘Arafat until the morning of the ninth, so as to arrive at ‘Arafat by the time the sun reaches its zenith.



The Halt in ‘Arafat


There is consensus among the schools that the day of the halt in ‘Arafat is the ninth of Dhu ’l-Hijjah, but they disagree as to when the halt begins and ends on that day.  According to the Hanafi, Shafi‘i and Maliki schools it begins at midday on the ninth and lasts till daybreak on the tenth, and according to the Hanbali school it begins at daybreak on the ninth and lasts until daybreak on the tenth.  According to the Ja‘faris for anyone not in a hurry, the halt lasts from midday on the ninth till sunset on the same day. 


            It is preferable to take a ritual bath like the Friday ritual bath before standing at ‘Arafat..  There is no rite specifically prescribed for ‘Arafat; the only thing required is one’s presence and one may stay awake or sleep, sit, stand, walk around or ride a mount.



The Limits of  ‘Arafat


The limits of ‘Arafat are Arnah, Thawbah, and from Nimrah to Dhu ’l-Majaz, which are all places around ‘Arafat.  One may not halt in any of these places, neither in Taht al-Arak, because they are outside the limits of ‘Arafat; if a person were to halt in any of these places his Pilgrimage would become invalid by consensus of all the schools, with the exception of the Malikis, who say that one may halt at Arnah, although a sacrifice would be due from him.



            The entire area of  ‘Arafat is permissible for the halt, which may be made at any spot within it by consensus of all the schools.  Imam al-Sadiq relates that when the Prophet halted at ‘Arafat the people crowded around him, having followed his camel; whenever the camel moved, they moved along with it.  When he saw this, the Prophet said, ‘O people, the halting-place is not confined to where my camel stands, rather it is the entire plain of  ‘Arafat. If the halting-place were limited to where my camel stands, the place would be too small for everybody.’



The Conditions of the Halt


By consensus of all the schools ritual purity is not a condition for the halt at ‘Arafat, though it is preferred.  According to the Ja‘fari and Maliki schools, the halt at ‘Arafat must be made with prior intention, in the knowledge that the place where one is halting is indeed  ‘Arafat.


            According to the Shafi‘i school neither intention nor knowledge is a condition; all that is required is that one is not insane, intoxicated or unconscious.  According to the Hanafis neither intention, knowledge or sanity are conditions.  They assert that the Pilgrimage of whoever is present in ‘Arafat during the proper time is correct.


            The question arises whether it is necessary to make the halt in ‘Arafat for the full specified period, or if it is sufficient to be present there for only some of the time, even as little as a single moment.  According to the Ja‘faris, if a person be able he is obliged to halt for the entire period.  If, however, due to some legitimate excuse he cannot make the halt for the entire period, it is sufficient for him to halt for a part of the time.


            According to the Ja‘faris if a person leaves ‘Arafat intentionally before midday, he must return later, and nothing is due from him should he do so.  If he does not return, he must sacrifice a camel; and if that is beyond his means, he must fast for eighteen days in succession.  If one leaves before midday because of error or miscalculation, and does not discover it until the time is past, nothing is due from him providing he is present at the halt in Muzdalifah on time.  If he remember before the period of ‘Arafat expires, he must return as far as possible in the remaining time.  Should he fail to do so, he must sacrifice a camel.


            According to the Shafi‘i, Maliki and Hanbali schools, mere presence, at least for a single moment, is sufficient. The Malikis, however, aver that anyone who makes the halt in ‘Arafat after midday and leaves before sunset must repeat the Pilgrimage the following year if he fails to return to ‘Arafat before daybreak on the tenth.


            According to the Ja‘faris anyone who omits the halt at ‘Arafat has invalidated his Pilgrimage.  According to the Shafi‘is, if one forgets and omits the halt, it is obligatory upon him to change his Greater Pilgrimage to a Lesser Pilgrimage, after which he must fulfil the remaining rites of the Greater Pilgrimage after completing the rites of the Lesser Pilgrimage.  Furthermore he must repeat the Greater Pilgrimage the following year.


            It is desirable for anyone halting in ‘Arafat to observe ritual purity, face the Holy Ka‘bah, make supplication and ask forgiveness with humility and a feeling of being in the presence of God.



The Halt in Muzdalifah


The halt in Muzdalifah is the next rite after the halt in ‘Arafat according to all the schools.  They also agree that when the Pilgrim turns to Muzdalifah after the halt in ‘Arafat he is acting in accordance with the following verse of the Qur`an:

When you pour forth from  ‘Arafat, then remember Allah in the sacred site, remembering Him in the way you have been shown. (2:198)

Furthermore, they also agree that it is preferable to delay the sunset prayer preceding the day of the Festival until one reaches Muzdalifah.  When the sun sets in ‘Arafat, the pilgrim should go forth towards Muzdalifah before the sunset prayer is offered.  It is preferable to pray the sunset prayer in Muzdalifah and then the evening prayer immediately afterward, as the Prophet did.  There is consensus on this point among all the schools who, with the exception of the Hanafis, agree that if a person performs the sunset prayer before reaching Muzdalifah and fails to pray the sunset and evening prayers together, his prayer would still be valid, even though it is preferable not to do this.



The Limits of Muzdalifah


The area  from  al-Ma’zamayn  to  al-Hiyad,  towards  the  valley  of Muhassir, comprises the legal area of Muzdalifah.  Like ‘Arafat, it is proper to halt at any spot within it, and among the Ja‘faris it is permissible, in case of overcrowding, to climb up towards the hill which is one of the limits of Muzdalifah.



The Night at Muzdalifah


According to the Hanafi, Shafi‘i and Hanbali schools, it is obligatory to spend the night before the day of the Festival in Muzdalifah, and anyone who does not must offer a sacrifice.  According to the Ja‘faris and the Malikis, it is not obligatory but commendable.  None of the schools considers spending the night in Muzdalifah an essential part of the Pilgrimage.



The Halt


For the Ja‘faris and the Hanafis  it is compulsory to stay in Muzdalifah until after daybreak; the other schools permit departure after midnight.  The Ja‘faris consider that the obligatory time for the halt in Muzdalifah is between daybreak and sunrise on the day of the Festival (the tenth of Dhu ’l-Hijjah).  Whoever leaves intentionally before sunrise after having been there in the night does not invalidate his Pilgrimage if he had made the halt in ‘Arafat, but he must sacrifice a sheep.  If anyone leaves  before daybreak because of ignorance it does not count.  Those who have an excuse for not halting between daybreak and sunrise have an optional extension of time until midday on the day of the Festival.


            According to the Ja‘faris it is an obligatory part of the Pilgrimage for the halt to take place during these two specific periods of time.  Therefore should someone omit it during the obligatory and optional periods of time without valid excuse, and has not stayed the night either, his Pilgrimage is invalid.  For there to be a legitimate excuse, one must have performed the halt at ‘Arafat.  Whoever fails to make the halt at both ‘Arafat and Muzdalifah has invalidated his Pilgrimage, even if his failure to do so had a legitimate cause.  If the invalidated Greater Pilgrimage were an obligatory one, it must be repeated the following year.



Actions considered Preferable at Muzdalifah


According to the Ja‘fari, Shafi‘i and Maliki schools it is preferable, before leaving Muzdalifah for Mina, to gather seventy stones for stoning the pillars; and once the pilgrim arrives in Mina, he should not let anything detain him from the rite of stoning.  The Hanbalis say that the stones may be gathered from anywhere.  Maintaining ritual purity, repeating the affirmation of unity (la ilaha illa ’llah) and performing supplication are all desirable actions.





All schools agree that the rites after the halt at Muzdalifah are the same as those of Mina, and that the best time for departure from Muzdalifah is after sunrise.  According to some Ja‘faris, anyone who leaves before sunrise and passes beyond the limits of Muzdalifah must sacrifice a sheep.


            In Mina several rites are performed, continuing from the day of the Festival until the night of the twelfth and the morning of the thirteenth.  The three days following the day of the Festival (the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth of Dhu ’l-Hijjah) are called ‘the days of drying the meat’, because pilgrims formerly used to dry strips of meat from the sacrificial animals in the sun.


            Three rites are obligatory at Mina on the day of the Festival:


(1)        stoning the pillar of  ‘Aqabah (the largest of the three pillars);

(2)        slaughtering the sacrificial animal, and

(3)        cutting the hair, beard, moustache or one nail, or shaving the hair on the head. 


            Although all the schools agree that the Prophet performed these three acts in the above order, they disagree whether this order ranks as obligatory or only preferred.


            According to the Shafi‘is and Hanbalis, this order may be changed.  The Malikis say that if anyone performs the cutting before the slaughter or the stoning, he must make a sacrifice; they further maintain that if he resides in the Sacred Precinct and is performing the Greater Pilgrimage which is followed by the Lesser Pilgrimage, then he must make two sacrifices.  According to the Ja‘faris it is a wrong action to change the order knowingly and intentionally, although repetition is not required.





The symbolic rite of throwing stones at the pillars in Mina is obligatory for all pilgrims, the rite being performed ten times during the four days.  The first time, only the pillar of ‘Aqabah is stoned: this is done on the day of the Festival.  On the second day, i.e. the eleventh of Dhu ’l-Hijjah, all three pillars are stoned, and this is repeated on the third and the fourth days.  The stoning on the fourth day applies only to the pilgrim who has spent the previous night in Mina; otherwise, he does not throw stones on that day.



Lapidation on the Tenth of Dhu ’l-Hijjah


All five schools agree that it suffices to stone the pillar of ‘Aqabah any time from sunrise until sunset on the tenth of Dhu ’l-Hijjah, but they disagree as to whether or not stoning may occur before or after that period.  According to the Maliki, Hanafi, Hanbali and Ja‘fari schools, it is not permissible to stone the pillar of  ‘Aqabah before daybreak, and if one does so without an excuse, it must be repeated. (They permit it for an excuse such as sickness, or other incapacity.) According to the Shafi‘i school, performing the rite earlier, or even the next day, is unobjectionable, for they maintain that the specified period is preferred, not obligatory according to the Malikis, a sacrifice is necessary from the pilgrim who performs the rite during the night or the next day.


            According to the Ja‘faris if anyone forgets to stone ‘Aqabah on the tenth, he must make it up on the eleventh.  If he forgets on the eleventh, then he should make it up on the twelfth, and so on.  If a person forgets until after he has left Makkah, he may carry it out the following year, either in person or through a representative who carries it out on his behalf



The Conditions of Lapidation


  1. Intention is explicitly required by the Ja‘faris;

  2. each lapidation must be carried out with seven stones;

  3. the stones must be thrown one at a time;

  4. the stones must strike the target;

  5. the stones must reach the target by being thrown (if they reach it by some other manner, this         does not suffice);

  6. the stones must be real stone, not some other material such as salt, iron, copper, wood, porcelain, etc.  This is accepted by all the schools except the Hanafis, who maintain that it is alright if the stones be made of some earthen material, such as porcelain, clay or stone;

  7. the stones must not have been used for stoning before (the Hanbalis expressly state this condition);

  8. ritual purity, though desirable, is not a condition.


The Ja‘faris contend that it is preferable for the stones to be about the size of a fingertip, rough in texture, and neither black, white nor red in colour.  The other schools say that the stones should be about the size of a broad bean.  The Ja‘faris also hold that it is preferable for the pilgrim to perform all the rites facing the direction of the Ka‘bah, except for stoning the Pillar of ‘Aqabah on the day of the Festival: they consider that it is preferable to perform this act with one’s back towards the Ka‘bah, since the Prophet did so.  The other schools believe that facing the Ka‘bah is preferable for this rite.


            It is also preferable to perform the stoning on foot, though riding a mount is permissible; to be no farther than fifteen feet from the pillar; to throw with the right hand, and to recite the prayers prescribed by tradition, as well as other recommended prayers.





Should a person doubt whether the pebble struck its target, it is assumed not to have hit; and if he has doubts about the number of stones thrown, he should count from the lowest number which he is sure he has thrown.



The Preferred Sacrifice


There are two types of sacrifice in Islam: the obligatory and the preferred.  The preferred sacrifice is according to what God says in the Qur`an:

So pray to your Lord, and sacrifice. (108:2)

This is interpreted as a command to the Prophet to sacrifice after the Festival prayer, when he was not present in Mina for the Greater Pilgrimage.  A tradition relates that the Prophet sacrificed two rams, one white and the other black.


            According to the Malikis and the Hanafis, this sacrifice is obligatory for every family once a year, holding that it is similar to the alms given after the fast of Ramadan.  The Ja‘faris and the Shafi‘is say that the preferable sacrifice can be carried out in Mina (by those not performing the Pilgrimage) on either the day of the Festival or one of the three days following it.  In places other than Mina the sacrifice may be performed on one of three days only: the day of the Festival, the eleventh or the twelfth.  According to the Hanbalis, Malikis and Hanafis the time for the sacrifice is three days, whether in Mina or elsewhere.  The best time for the sacrifice is after sunrise on the day of the Festival.



The Sacrifice of the Greater Pilgrimage


All the schools agree that the obligatory sacrifice is not one of the essential parts of the Greater Pilgrimage.  They also agree that it is not obligatory for the pilgrim who lives within the Sacred Precinct, but is obligatory for the non-resident pilgrim who performs the Lesser Pilgrimage before the Greater.  The  Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi‘i and Hanbali schools maintain that the sacrifice is compulsory for the pilgrim who joins the Lesser Pilgrimage after the Greater; but according to the Ja‘faris it is not compulsory for this pilgrim except as a vow, or when he brings the sacrificial animal with him at the time of assuming the ihram.


            There is disagreement as to whether a resident of the Sacred Precinct performing the Lesser Pilgrimage before the Greater must offer a sacrifice or not.  According to the Hanafis, Malikis, Shafi‘is and Hanbalis, the sacrifice is not obligatory.  The Ja‘faris consider the sacrifice obligatory if the person is performing the pilgrimage.



The Requirements of the Sacrifice


The sacrificial victim must be either a camel, a cow, a sheep or a goat, by consensus of all five schools.  According to the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi‘i and Hanbali schools, a sheep must be at least six months old; a goat, one; a cow,; and a camel, five years old.  This agrees with the Ja‘fari view, except that for them the camel must have entered its sixth year and the goat its second year, and as a precaution they say the sheep should have entered it second year.


            The sacrificial animal must be free of any defect, and, by consensus, must be neither one-eyed, lame, sick, old or decrepit. There is disagreement, however, regarding the acceptability of a castrated animal, or an animal with no horns or broken ones, and missing or mutilated ears or tail.  These animals are not acceptable according to the Ja‘faris but are acceptable according to the other schools.



The Time and Place of the Sacrifice


According to the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi‘i and Hanbali schools, the occasion for the sacrifice is on the day of the Festival and the two days following it.  The Hanafis add that this time is specific for pilgrims performing the Lesser Pilgrimage before or after the Greater Pilgrimage, while the Malikis do not recognize any difference between both pilgrimages.


            The Hanbalis say that should the sacrifice be made before its time, it must be made again.  According to the Hanafis, slaughtering the sacrificial animal before the three days of the Festival is not correct, but if done later a recompense can make up for the delay.  According to the Shafi‘is, the time of the obligatory sacrifice for the Pilgrimage (the Lesser Pilgrimage having been performed beforehand) starts when the pilgrim assumes the ihram; performing it earlier than the day of the Festival is permissible, therefore, and there is no time limit for delay, although it is best performed on the day of the Festival itself.


            The Ja‘faris maintain that intention is obligatory for the sacrifice, which should be made on the day of the Festival, although it is acceptable to delay until the third day following it, or even until the end of Dhu ’l-Hijjah.  According to them it is not permissible to make the sacrifice before the Festival on the tenth of Dhu ’l-Hijjah.


            The place of sacrifice, according to the Hanbali, Shafi‘i and Hanafi schools, is within the sanctified area, which includes Mina and the other places mentioned above. 



Distributing the Meat of the Sacrificial Animal


The Hanbalis and Shafi‘is say that the meat of an animal slaughtered inside the sanctified area must be distributed among the poor there; the Hanafis and Malikis say that it is permissible to distribute it either inside or outside the sanctified area.  The Shafi‘is maintain that one may not eat the meat of an obligatory sacrifice, but the meat of a voluntary offering is permissible.  In modern times a large incinerator has been constructed in the area where much of the sacrificed animals are burned, a practice which negates the purpose of the sacrifice.  The Malikis, on the other hand, declare that with the exception of a sacrifice made as a recompense for hurting someone or for hunting, or a sacrifice avowed specifically to the poor, or the animal sacrificed voluntarily which dies before reaching its destination, the meat of the animal may be eaten.  The Ja‘faris maintain that a third of the meat should be given to the poor believers, a third to other believers, even those of means, and the remaining third may be consumed by the pilgrim.





All the schools agree that when the pilgrim either cannot find a sacrificial animal or does not possess the means to acquire one, a possible atonement is to fast for ten days, three of which should be successive days to be kept during the Pilgrimage while the remaining seven should be completed upon returning home.  This is in accordance with the divine verse:

Whoever cannot find the means, let him fast three days during the Pilgrimage and seven when he has returned; that is ten days in all. (2:196)

A pilgrim’s ability to offer the sacrificial victim is judged according to whether he can arrange for one in the place of sacrifice.  When this cannot be done, the duty of sacrifice is changed to that of fasting, even though the pilgrim may a man of means in his own homeland.




Sacrifice by a Proxy


It is preferable for the pilgrim to sacrifice the animal himself, though it is permissible for him to ask someone else to do it, because it is one of the rites in which delegation is possible.  The one deputed makes the intention of slaughtering on behalf of the one who deputes; but it is better for both of them to formulate the intention together.  According to the Ja‘faris, it is preferable for the pilgrim to put his hand on the person performing the slaughter, or at least to be present at the time of slaughtering.



Cutting the Hair


Cutting the hair is part of the rites of the Greater Pilgrimage, and it is performed in Mina after the rite of sacrificing an animal.  All the schools concur that one has a choice between cutting and shaving, shaving being more meritorious; they concur furthermore that women should not shave the head but only cut their hair (the Hanafis and some Ja‘faris hold that a person who is bald should nevertheless draw the razor over his head; the rest consider it only a preferred action).


            According to the Ja‘faris this cutting or shaving must be performed in Mina, and therefore anyone who departs without having done so should return to perform the rite, regardless of whether his lapse were intentional or not.  If, however, it is difficult or unfeasible for him to return, he may perform the rite wherever he can.  The other schools maintain that it should be performed within the Sacred Precinct.


            All agree that sexual activity is not permitted after cutting or shaving the hair; the Malikis and the Ja‘faris do not permit the use of perfume nor do they permit the hunting of animals.



Circumambulation and Women


As mentioned above, the first rite in Mina on the tenth is stoning the Pillar of ‘Aqabah, after which the sacrifice is performed, and then one cuts one's hair or shaves one’s head.  When the pilgrim has completed these rites on the day of the Festival, he returns to Makkah to perform circumambulation, after which he prays two cycles at the station of Abraham and goes to and fro between Safa and Marwah.  According to the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi‘i and Hanbali schools, after completing that circumambulation he returns to Mina, whereupon everything becomes permissible to him, even sexual activity.  According to the Ja‘faris, he must still perform the circumambulation of women and women must perform the circumambulation of men and pray two more cycles at the station of Abraham before Mina.  Sexual activity does not become permissible to the pilgrim, from the Ja‘fari viewpoint, without this circumambulation, which we  discussed in detail earlier on.




The Night at Mina


After completing the circumambulation, the pilgrim must return to Mina for the nights of the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth.  Anyone who is in a hurry may depart after midday and before sunset on the twelfth, in accordance with the verse:

One who departs on the second day incurs no sin.  Then whoever hastens off in two days, there is no blame upon him. (2:203)

According to the Hanafis staying overnight in Mina is not obligatory, although the other schools consider it so.  None of the schools consider it a fundamental part of the Pilgrimage, and according to the Hanbalis, there is no recompense due from anyone who does not stay.  According to the Shafi‘is 800 grams of food is required to be given as charity, and according to the Malikis, a sacrifice.  According to the Ja‘faris, nothing is due upon one who spends the night in Makkah, praying all night till morning.  If the night be passed there without prayer, or somewhere else, in prayer or otherwise, one must sacrifice a sheep, even if the lapse were made through an oversight or ignorance.  However, a person is excused if he, for any reason, finds it difficult to remain the night.  There is no obligatory ritual for the nights in Mina, though spending them in prayer and worship is preferred.



Stoning the Pillars during the ‘Days of Drying the Meat’


The five schools agree that there is no obligatory ritual apart from stoning the three pillars every day for these three days  (some of the details have been mentioned above, in the section on lapidation). According to the Ja‘faris the time for stoning on each of the three days extends from sunrise until sunset, midday being preferable. The other schools contend that it extends from midday till sunset, and if done earlier than midday ought to be repeated.  The Hanafis permit stoning before midday only on the third day and stoning after sunset is permissible only for those with a valid excuse.


            All five schools are agreed about the number of stones and the way of performing the ritual on the three days.  The pilgrim throws twenty-one stones each day, seven at each of the three pillars.  He begins at the first pillar, which is the farthest from Makkah and the nearest to the mosque of al-Khayf; it is preferable to say Allahu akbar with every pebble that is thrown.  After that, the pilgrim proceeds to the second pillar and, facing in the direction of the Ka‘bah, praises God and invokes blessings upon the Prophet, then, moving forward a little, throws the pebbles.  Finally, he moves on to the third pillar, ‘Aqabah, and performs the stoning as before.  With this the ritual of stoning for the day is complete.


            All schools except the Hanafis agree on the order of stoning the pillars, and that if one of them be stoned out of turn, it is obligatory to repeat the ritual in the correct order.  The Hanafis say that the order is not binding.  The stoning may be performed on foot or from a mount, though the former is better; and it is permissible for someone with an excuse to have someone else perform it for him.  Nothing is due from anyone who omits the phrase Allahu akbar.



Delaying the Stoning


If the lapidation be delayed by a day, intentionally or through ignorance or an oversight, or it is delayed until the thirteenth and performed in a single day, the pilgrim does not incur a penalty according to the Shafi‘is and Malikis.  The Hanafis maintain that if one, two or three stones are delayed by a day, for every pebble delayed a poor man must be fed.  If four stones be delayed by a day, a sacrifice becomes necessary.


            The Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi‘i and Hanbali schools agree that if a person does not stone at all until the eleventh,. twelfth, and thirteenth days of the month are past, he is not obliged to perform the rite later, however, they disagree about the recompense.  According to the Malikis it is a sacrifice, regardless of whether one or all of the stones are omitted.  According to the Hanafis, sacrifice is required for omitting all the stones, and if fewer, one must feed a poor man for every pebble omitted.  The recompense according to the Shafi‘is is 800 grams of food for every pebble if two are omitted; for three, a sacrifice  becomes obligatory.


            The Ja‘faris maintain that if a person forgets to stone one or more pillars, the rite must be performed during the days of the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth.  If the person has already reached Makkah, he is obliged to return to Mina to perform the rite if the days of meat-drying are not past; otherwise, he must perform the rite himself the following year, or delegate someone else to perform it for him.  In either case, no recompense is due from him.



After Mina


According to both the Ja‘faris and Malikis when the rites of Mina have been completed, it is preferable for the pilgrim to perform the Circumambulation of Farewell.  Hanafis and Hanbalis maintain that it is obligatory for non-residents of the Sacred Precinct, and those who do not wish to stay on in Makkah after returning from Mina.  There is no circumambulation, nor any recompense, for women who enter their menstrual cycle before departure, even from the viewpoint of those who consider the circumambulation  obligatory.  It is, however, preferable for them to bid farewell to the Ka‘bah from the door nearest to it, without entering the Mosque.

Back Up Next

Preface: The Pilgrimage of Islam ] Introduction: The Pilgrimage of Islam ] Chapter 1: The Pilgrimage of Islam ] Chapter 2: The Pilgrimage of Islam ] Chapter 3: The Pilgrimage of Islam ] Chapter 4: The Pilgrimage of Islam ] [ Chapter 4: The Pilgrimage of Islam (Continues) ] Chapter 5: The Pilgrimage of Islam ]