October 11, 2013

5 facts about the hajj

The annual Muslim hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca is underway, and more than a million pilgrims already have entered Saudi Arabia from abroad. Some of the key rituals involved in the pilgrimage are performed on the ninth day of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah, which this year falls on Oct. 14. All Muslim adults are expected to participate in the hajj, which is among the Five Pillars (core practices) of Islam, at least once in their lifetime unless they are physically or financially incapable of making the trip to Mecca.

Here’s a look at some of the numbers associated with the hajj:

More than 3 million people performed the hajj in 2012, according to the government of Saudi Arabia. More than six-in-ten (64%) were men, and more than half (55%) came from outside Saudi Arabia. The overall annual number has been rising in recent decades, and is up by more than a million from a decade ago. This year’s number, however, is expected to be lower than last year’s total because the Saudi government issued significantly fewer visas due to concerns about a deadly respiratory virus.

FT_HajjA recent Pew Research Center survey of Muslims around the world found that, across the 39 countries and territories surveyed, a median of 9% say they have made the pilgrimage to Mecca. Those living closer to Mecca are more likely to have performed the hajj. For example, 20% of Egyptian Muslims say they have done so, while just 3% of Indonesian Muslims say they have.

The Saudi government issues a set number of hajj visas annually. Although those are free, the trip carries considerable costs, especially for transportation and lodging, and pilgrims must use an approved travel agent. Hajj packages from the United States may exceed $5,000. More than 14,500 American Muslims are expected to perform the hajj this year, according to the Religion News Service.

Several of the primary rituals of the hajj involve the number seven. One of them, known as performing tawaf, involves circling the Kaaba (the holiest site in Islam) seven times. Pilgrims also typically travel back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwa seven times.

The hajj coincides with Eid al-Adha, a major holiday for Muslims – including those not performing the pilgrimage – which begins on the 10th day of Dhul Hijjah. Muslims around the world with the financial means to do so traditionally slaughter a large animal, such as a cow, goat or sheep, on Eid al-Adha and distribute portions of the meat to the poor. (Many American Muslims donate to organizations that slaughter animals and give meat to the poor overseas.) The ritual sacrifice evokes the Quranic story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son for God.

 

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Muslims and Islam, Religious Beliefs and Practices

  1. is a Research Assistant at the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project.

  2. is Editor at the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project.

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8 Comments

  1. jake2 months ago

    thanks pew reaserch you helped me

    Reply
  2. katie3 months ago

    i used this for my R.E homework!!!!!!!! yayaayyayaaya

    Reply
    1. finlay2 months ago

      Same

      Reply
  3. davionta6 months ago

    shookran for the facts

    Reply
  4. ezzy1 year ago

    tell me 10 facts about dhul hijjah now please

    Reply
  5. P.A.Mohamed Ameen1 year ago

    Islam means complete, total, absolute submission to One true Almighty Creator of the worlds, believing that man is not to submit to any other deity in the form of idol, person, wealth, position, materialism, political power etc. When that happens man is really, absolutely free, independent and courageous..

    But submission involves sacrifices,

    Religious rites involve sacrificing time, foods, sex, conveniences, wealth, pride, position, look etc.

    In paying an obligatory wealth tax called Zakah( a certain% of excess net wealth) a Muslim sacrifices a portion of his wealth

    In fasting for a month during the month of Ramadan he sacrifices his food, drinks and sex for about 14-16 hours(day time)

    People both Muslims and non-Muslims understand the rational behind such rites like Zakah and fasting

    It is true people who perform haj do sacrifice their time, wealth, conveniences, sex life for a period of time .

    But by doing some of the unexplainable rites such walking around the Kaaba, throwing stones, staying at the desert camps, shaving off the hair etc the worshippers sacrifice the rationality and submit completely feeling that Oh God If I adore You out of fear of Hell, Burn me in Hell! If I adore you out of desire for Paradise, Lock me out of Paradise. But if I adore you for Yourself alone, Do not deny to me Your eternal beauty.

    I ask no questions, I submit completely. That is the main purpose of haj

    Reply
    1. Ronald Mcnut1 year ago

      Seems pretty robot like to me. One should never do anything without being able to submit it to rational skepticism.

      Reply
    2. Edison1 year ago

      I wonder why someone should chose a non-secure way to the salvation. A secure way to salvation is through Jesus Christ. if someone receives Jesus Christ as his saviour he will be definitely cleansed from all sins and saved from the wrath of God to come. Moreover, those who have received Jesus Christ as their saviour they need not do the the complicated rituals demanded by many religions (including Islam as narrated by M. Ameen above) as ways to cleanse their sins.

      Reply