The Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca is an obligation on every Muslim, if they are physically and financially able to perform it, at least once in a lifetime. About two million Muslims make the pilgrimage each year coming from every corner of the globe, providing a unique opportunity for those of different nations to meet one another. The annual Hajj season begins in the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar.
During the Hajj men wear two seamless pieces of white cloth (one covering from the waist to just above the ankles and the other covering the upper body). Women can wear normal clothing but it is preferable for them to wear white garments of a simple design. This prescribed code of dress strips away the distinctions of class and culture so that all pilgrims stand equal before God.
The Hajj is a very powerful experience for many Muslims marking a turning point in their life, a strengthening of their faith, and a renewed commitment to improving themselves and bring themselves closer to God. The Hajj is an intensely spiritual as well as physical event calling upon the Pilgrim to devote his/herself entirely to the worship of their Lord to the exclusion of all else. It is a journey outward as well as inward and only the unfortunate come away from it unchanged.
The Hajj is a moment many Muslims wait for their entire lives, saving every penny so that they can make this sacred journey. For those who have experienced the Hajj, you stand amidst millions of you brothers and sisters in faith all unified in intention, one voice- many languages. At the same time you stand alone before your Lord and realize your insignificance and dependence.
The close of the season of Hajj is marked by a festival, "Eid Al-Adha" which is celebrated with prayers in Muslim communities everywhere. This and "Eid Al-Fitr", commemorating the end of Ramadan, are the only holidays in the Muslim calendar.
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