The Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca)
THE HAJJ, or pilgrimage, is the fifth of the five pillars (duties) of Islam. Every able-bodied Muslim should make the pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime, finances permitting.
The Hajj takes place annually during the first 10 days of the Dhu al-Hijja, the twelfth month of the Islamic year. The Islamic calendar is based on lunar months, so the actual date moves forward about 11 days each year in relation to the western solar calendar.
During the Hajj, pilgrims must be in a state of ihram (consecration). Men wear two pieces of white unstitched cloth – covering the waist and legs, the other around the shoulders covering the upper body. While in ihram, pilgrims must not cut hair or nails, wear perfumes, kill animals or insects, or engage in any kind of sexual relations (including proposals of marriage).