About The Pilgrimage To Mecca - Hajj
Eid al-Adha (The Feast of Sacrifice) is on the 10th day, and is a key holiday honoured by every Muslim. For those taking part in the Hajj, the day is spent in Mina, where the pilgrims sacrifice an animal to remember Abraham's sacrifice and tosses seven small stones at each of three pillars on three consecutive days. These pillars signify devils and sins. The pilgrims then go back to Mecca, where they repeat the tawaf. Their heads are then shaved or hair trimmed. This symbolizes the conclusion of the state of ihram.
Before the era of Muhammad, every year tribes from across the Arabian Peninsula would gather on Mecca, as part of the pilgrimage. At that time, the precise faith of the tribes was not significant, and Christian Arabs were as liable to make the pilgrimage as the pagans. Muslim historians denote the time prior to Muhammad as al-Jahiliyah, meaning the "Days of Ignorance", when the Ka’ba consisted of hundreds of idols inclusive of totems of all the tribes of the Arabian Peninsula, idols of pagan gods like al-Lat, Hubal, Manat and Uzza as well as several symbolizing Mary and Jesus.
Pilgrims can go to Mecca to carry out the rites at other times during the year. This is often referred to as the "lesser pilgrimage", or Umrah. Still, even if they carry out the Umrah, they are still required to carry out the Hajj at some other time in their lives, if they have the necessary resources.
Muhammad was known to commonly carry out the Umrah, even before he started getting revelations. Historically, Muslims would congregate at assorted meeting places in other great cities, and then go forward to Mecca, in masses that might consist of tens of thousands of pilgrims. Two of the most well-known meeting places were in Damascus and Cairo. In Cairo, the Sultan would stand on top of the platform of the legendary gate Bab Zuwayla, to formally watch the commencing of the yearly pilgrimage.
When Muhammad led his supporters from Medina to Mecca in 632 AD, it was the first Hajj to be carried out solely by the Muslims, as well as the only Hajj ever carried out by Muhammad. He cleaned the Ka’ba, took out all the idols, and re-established the structure as the house of God. It was from that moment that the Hajj became one of the Five Pillars of Islam.