The Islamic pilgrimage, or Hajj, to Mecca in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, brings an estimated 2.5 million visitors every single year. Such an enormous gathering makes it the largest yearly congregation of people in the world. The 2017 pilgrimage is expected to take place from the 1st of September, however, dates may vary as the Islamic Lunar Calendar is followed for these events.
It is historically acknowledged that the pilgrimage in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia can be traced back to Abrahamic times.
According to Islamic Tradition, the following is said to be the event that brought forth the holiness of the land where Kaaba is built, around which a pilgrim walks counterclockwise.
“Abraham was ordered by God to leave his wife Hajrah and his son Ismael alone in the desert of ancient Mecca. In search of water, Hajrah desperately ran seven times between the two hills of Safa and Marwah but found none. Returning in despair to Ismael, she saw the baby scratching the ground with his leg and a water fountain sprang forth underneath his foot. Later, Abraham was commanded to build the Kaaba (which he did with the help of Ismael) and to invite people to perform pilgrimage there,”
The Traditions also say that the archangel Gabriel brought the Black Stone from Heavens above to be attached to the Kaaba.
The event of Abraham and Ismael is said to date back to 2,000 B.C., making it a very historically important site, not just for modern Muslims.
Muslims believe that a sacred house was built in Mecca by Adam, the father of the human race, in the same spot where Abraham and his son Ismael built the Kaaba. The Kaaba has been built on a variety of occasions, the last time it was rebuilt was after the floods in the year of 1630.
The fountain of spring water that had sprouted from the ground where Ismael struck his feet is believed to be the blessed spring of Zamzam. The water of Zamzam is revered for bringing life to the dry lands and bringing the nomad Arabs to this area to populate.
Performing a pilgrimage to Kaaba is a responsibility of every adult Muslim. It is one of the pillars of Islam, hence, it is believed that without this ritual, a Muslim has not completed all of their duties as an observant follower of Islam.
Regardless of it being one of the pillars of Islam, only a fraction of Muslims is capable of making the pilgrimage. The massive crowds of worshipers that descend upon Mecca in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia every year repetitively test the site’s ability to house such a number.
The Saudi Arabian government has spent billions to expand and improve the structure of the site, establishing tents to accommodate visitors and building multi-level pathways to eradicate congestion.
The Islamic Pilgrimage, which is otherwise known as Hajj, is one of the most massive gatherings of any religious group coming together to pray, follow rituals and show strength in numbers. The Day Of Arafat is one of the various customs that must be followed during the Pilgrimage.
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