The dates for the five-day Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca have been officially announced after moon sighting on August 22.
The first day of the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca will be on Wednesday, August 30, 2017, as announced by Saudi Arabia’s High Judicial Court.
In the Islamic calendar, Hajj begins every year on the 8th day of the Dhu al-Hijjah lunar month, and traditionally the length of lunar months is only confirmed after moon sighting on the 29th day of the previous lunar month.
Since the moon was not seen on August 21, the first day of the Dhu al-Hijjah lunar month lunar will be August 23, and so Hajj should begin on August 30.
The High Judicial court in Saudi Arabia announces the dates for Hajj, and Eid al-Adha after reviewing moon sighting reports.
Why do Muslims go on Hajj?
For Muslims, Hajj re-enacts the actions of Prophet Muhammad’s “farewell pilgrimage” in 632 AD. Hajj is the fifth and final pillar of Islam, but is only a requirement for those who are able to afford the trip and are physically strong enough to complete the pilgrimage.
Muslims perform Hajj with the aim to cleanse their souls and revive their relationship with God. It is also meant to strengthen the bonds between Muslims, since people from all kinds of backgrounds come together for the pilgrimage.
A significant aspect of Hajj is that removes all markers of class, wealth and materialism, which is why the pilgrims dress in simple cloth for the duration of the pilgrimage. Men wrap themselves in two pieces of white cloth called the ihram, which also means the sacred state.
Hajj also hearkens back to the time of Prophet Abraham. Muslims believe that he built the kaaba, along with his son Ishmael. The cubic structure was intended as a gathering point for worshipers.
Starting from the 8th of Dhu al-Hijjah, the pilgrimage can be performed between five to six days.
The ninth of Dhu al-Hijjah is known as the Day of Arafah, whereas Eid al-Adha, Islam’s holiest festival, is on the third day of Hajj.
In 2016, Hajj began on September 10.