All Muslims know that to follow the example of the Prophet ﷺ in matters of religion is required as a duty. To follow him in other aspects is always good and fruitful, except where he expressly stated that what he did was specific to him. In as far as offering the pilgrimage is concerned, we have no option but to follow his guidance. As he started his pilgrimage, he said: “Learn from me your rituals.” This is an all-embracing Hadīth that makes clear that the way the Prophet did his pilgrimage is the proper way we should all follow. We have a very detailed Hadīth narrated by Jābir ibn Abdullāh telling us of everything the Prophet ﷺ did on his pilgrimage, and, where necessary, adding comments to provide a full picture that helps us in offering this great act of worship. Jābir reports:
“God’s Messenger stayed in Madīnah nine years without offering the pilgrimage. In his tenth year in Madīnah it was announced to all people that God’s Messenger would be offering the pilgrimage. Many people flocked to Madīnah seeking to follow the Prophet’s guidance and to do like him.”
Several reasons led to the delay of the Prophet’s offering of the pilgrimage. In the first few years of his stay in Madīnah, he could not have traveled to Makkah, while the Quraysh, its inhabitants, were raising one army after another to fight him. When Makkah fell to Islām toward the end of Year 8, the Prophet ﷺ chose not to offer the pilgrimage the following year because he did not wish to see the abominable practices of the unbelievers which they introduced into the pilgrimage, such as being naked when doing the tawaf. In Year 9, Abu Bakr was the leader of the pilgrimage and a ban was declared prohibiting idolaters from coming to Makkah for pilgrimage, and banning the practice of doing the tawaf naked. With that done, the pilgrimage could be offered in the proper Islamic way, and this is what the Prophet ﷺ did. With him was no less than one hundred thousand people, all eager to offer this great act of worship with him.
“We went out with him until we arrived at Dhul-Hulaifah where Asma’ bint Umays gave birth to Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr. She sent a message to the Prophet asking what she should do (considering that she would be in her postnatal period). He told her to have a bath and to wrap herself properly (putting a wide piece of cloth at the place of discharge, tying both ends from the front and the back and sticking that wrapping tight to a belt she has around her waist.) She could then enter into ihrām, or consecration. The Prophet offered his prayers at the mosque there and mounted his she-camel, Al-Qaswa’. When his she-camel was well into the desert, I looked up and saw all around me people walking or riding animals, accompanying him. I could not see the end of them in any direction: Front or rear, right or left. The Prophet was with us receiving Qur’anic revelations, the interpretation of which we knew very well. Whatever he did, we did likewise. He raised his voice with phrases stressing God’s oneness: Labbayk Allahumma labbayk. Labbayk Laa sharīka laka labbayk. Inna al-hamda wal-ni’mata laka wal-mulk. Laa sharīka lak. People raised their voices with whatever praises they wished to repeat, and the Prophet did not take exception to any of that. He, however, maintained his own form of talbiyah.”
A woman’s discharge, whether menstrual or postnatal, does not stop her from offering the pilgrimage. She can indeed perform all the duties and rituals required, but she obviously cannot offer her prayers. She is exempt from these. Here we have the detailed guidance the Prophet ﷺ gave to Asma’ making clear that she could conduct her pilgrimage easily, but she must not do any tawaf until she has been cleansed of all discharge. It should be noted that she gave birth to her son shortly after departure from Madīnah, when she arrived at the point of mīqat, which is Dhul-Hulaifah or Abyar Ali as it is better known nowadays. The ruling given to her applies to all women who start such discharge at any time during their pilgrimage. We also learn that there could be different forms of declaring our response to God’s call to do the pilgrimage. However, the Prophet’s preferred form is the one that millions of pilgrims repeat all the time.
“We did not intend to do anything other than the pilgrimage. We knew nothing about the Umrah. When we arrived at the House (i.e. the Kā’ba) with the Prophet, he touched the corner (i.e. kissed the Black Stone) then he moved in a jogging movement for three rounds and walked the other four. He then went to Maqām Ibrahīm and recited: ‘Make the place where Ibrahīm stood as a place of prayer.’ He stood with that place (Maqām Ibrahīm) between himself and the Kā’ba. In his two rak’ahs he read Surah 112, Al-Ikhlas, and Surah 109, Al-Kafirūn. He then returned to the corner (of the Kā’ba, where the Black Stone is) and kissed it. He then left through the door nearer to the hill of Al-Safa.”
“When he reached Al-Safa, he read: “Safa and Marwah are among the symbols set up by God. Whoever visits the Sacred House for Pilgrimage or Umrah, would do no wrong to walk to and fro between them. He who does good of his own accord shall find that God is most thankful, all-knowing.” He also said: “Al-Safa and Al-Marwah are two places which God has made sacred.” He went first to Al-Safa and climbed up until he could see the Kā’ba. He turned his face toward the qiblah and declared God’s oneness and glorified Him. He then said: ‘There is no deity other than God. He has no partners. To Him belongs the Kingdom as well as all praise. He is able to do everything. There is no deity other than God. He has fulfilled His promise, given victory to His servant and has defeated the confederate forces on His own.’ He also prayed to God. He repeated these phrases three times then descended toward Al-Marwah. When he was at the bottom of the valley (marked nowadays with two green lights) he started jogging. When we were again climbing up, he walked. When he arrived at Al-Marwah, he did there the same as he did at Al-Safa. He finished his sa’ī at Al-Marwah.
Thus, there is nothing special to be done on the way to Makkah other than repeating the phrases of talbiyah. These make clear that offering the pilgrimage is dedicated to Allāh alone, in response to his order stated in the Qur’ān. Purity of faith is emphasised as Allāh’s oneness is repeated over and over again. The mention of Allāh’s support of His Messenger ﷺ is a reference to the defeat of the allied forces of unbelievers who tried to annihilate the Muslim community, but they suffered a humiliating defeat without being fought by any human forces.
On arrival in Makkah, a pilgrim should offer the tawaf and the sa’ī. If he is doing his pilgrimage in the ifrād or qirān methods, these count as his tawaf of arrival and the obligatory sa’ī of pilgrimage. Indeed in the case of qirān, it counts for both the pilgrimage and the Umrah. If the pilgrim opts for the tamattu’ method, which is the one preferred by the Prophet ﷺ, these count for his Umrah and he releases himself from consecration immediately after he finishes these duties. When he had completed them, he said:
“Were I to start my pilgrimage anew, I would not have brought my sacrificial animals with me, and would have started with an Umrah. Whoever of you has not brought his sacrificial animal with him should release himself from ihrām and make this an Umrah.” Suraqah ibn Malik ibn Ju’shum stood up and said: ‘Messenger of God, does this apply to this year only or forever?’ The Prophet inter-crossed his fingers as he put his two hands together, and said: ‘The Umrah has intermingled with the pilgrimage.’ He repeated this twice and said: ‘Indeed, till the end of time.’”
Ali ibn Abi Talib brought the sacrificial animals (cows and camels) which belonged to the Prophet ﷺ and came from Yemen. When he arrived he found Fatimah (his wife and the Prophet’s daughter) having released herself from ihrām and put on a colorful dress and colored her eyelashes. He objected to what he saw, and she told him: ‘My father has ordered me to do so.’ Ali used to say later when he was in Iraq that he went to the Prophet complaining of what Fatimah did. He asked the Prophet’s opinion concerning what she attributed to him. Ali said: ‘I told the Prophet ﷺ that I objected to her action.’ He said: ‘She has told the truth. She has told the truth. What did you say when you started your pilgrimage?’ I told him that I said: ‘My Lord! I intend to do the same as Your Messenger ﷺ.’ He said: ‘I have my sacrificial animals with me. Do not, then, release yourself from ihrām.’”
All the sacrificial animals that Ali brought with him from Yemen and the ones the Prophet ﷺ brought with him numbered one hundred. All people released themselves from ihrām and shortened their hair except the Prophet ﷺ and those who had their sacrifice with them.
There is no doubt that the tamattu’ method is the one the Prophet ﷺ preferred for all Muslims, although he himself had to continue with the qirān method, explaining that the reason was that he had brought his sacrifice with him. This ruling applies for all time, although nowadays no one brings his sacrifice from distant land. Still, it is possible that motorist pilgrims, particularly those using goods vehicles may do so. Consistent with his practice throughout his life, the Prophet ﷺ preferred the easier of any two options, as long as both were permissible. Undoubtedly, the tamattu’ method is the easiest of the three because it completes the Umrah on arrival and allows the pilgrim to be out of consecration until the start of the pilgrimage days. The other two methods require the observance of all ihrām restrictions throughout one’s stay in Makkah until the major part of the pilgrimage has been completed.
On the Day of Tarwiyah (8 Dhul Hijjah) they proceeded to Mina resolving to do the pilgrimage. The Prophet ﷺ mounted his she-camel and prayed at Mina the prayers of Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, Isha and Fajr (meaning that he stayed all day and throughout the night in Mina). He stayed on until after sunrise. He ordered that a dome of animal hair be erected for him at Namirah (in Arafat).
The Prophet then proceeded. The Quraish people were certain that he would stop at Al-Mash’ar Al-Harām (in Muzdalifah, short of Arafat), in the same way as the Quraish used to do before Islām. The Prophet ﷺ, however, proceeded until he came to the dome, which was erected for him at Namirah and dismounted there. When it was midday, he ordered that his she-camel, Al-Qaswa’, be prepared for him and proceeded to the middle of the valley (of Arafat).
In breaking with the Quraish traditions, the Prophet ﷺ put the pilgrimage rituals back to their original state, as performed by the Prophet Ibrahīm (ʿalayhi al-Salām) and his son the Prophet Ismaīl (ʿalayhi al-Salām). Their practice continued to be followed until the Arabs deviated from the pure divine faith, introducing idolatry and polytheism. This led them to invent new practices, some of which meant giving the Quraish, the tribe living in Makkah, a status with special privileges, such as refraining from attendance at Arafat. They argued that since they lived in the Haram area, they could not leave it to Arafat, which is outside it, because the Haram area is the blessed one. This is contrary to the Qur’ān and the Prophet’s ﷺ practice.
Perhaps we should briefly comment on the fact that after her Umrah, Fatimah, the Prophet’s daughter, put on a colorful dress and wore make up (among her family members). This is perfectly normal in Islam, and it is practiced in many Muslim countries, such as Pakistan and African countries, where Muslim women even go out wearing Islamic dress of all colours.
“The Prophet addressed the people and said: ‘Your blood and your properties are forbidden among you in the same degree of sanctity as this day, in this month, in this city. Everything, which belonged to jahiliyyah (the state of ignorance that is the antithesis of Islām) is hereby forgone and placed under my feet. The blood (i.e. revenge killing) of jahiliyyah is hereby forgone. The first (victim) whose blood I forgo from among our own people is Ibn Rabī’ah ibn Al-Harith (the Prophet’s own cousin). He was nursed in the tribe of Bani Sād and was killed by the tribe of Hudhayl. All the usury of the days of jahiliyyah is wiped off. The first of it I wipe off is that which belongs to Al-Abbas ibn Abd Al-Muttalib (the Prophet’s own uncle). All of it is hereby forgone. Fear God in (your treatment of) women. You have taken them on to yourselves with peace from God, and they are lawful to you with God’s word…’ He continued his speech until he said: ‘They (women) have a right against you to provide for them and to dress them in accordance with what is reasonable. I am leaving with you God’s book. If you hold fast to it you will never go astray. You will be asked about me, but what will you say?’ They (i.e. the people present) replied: ‘We declare that you have delivered the message perfectly and have given sound counsel.’ He pointed his forefinger raising it to the sky and, pointing it to the people, said: ‘My Lord! Bear witness.’ (He repeated this three times).”
The Prophet’s ﷺ speech at Arafat was longer than what is quoted here, but Jābir quotes the most relevant parts, re-emphasising the total prohibition of vengeance killing and usury. The Prophet ﷺ gives the lead, making clear that what belonged to his own relatives in these two areas was ended and forgone.
The Prophet ﷺ again speaks about the importance of kindness to women. It is well known that women were ill-treated in pre-Islamic Arabia, as they have been, and remain, ill-treated in many parts of the world. Islam gives women equal status with men and requires all men to be most kind to their womenfolk. Unfortunately, many Muslims do not heed the Prophet’s ﷺ orders, even in our own time. This is a depressing state of affairs. No God-fearing Muslim could abuse a woman under his care or deny her what God has given her and remain God-fearing.
“He then said the adhan (i.e the call to prayer) and followed it by the iqama (i.e. the call to start the congregational prayer) and prayed Dhuhr. He then said another iqama and prayed Asr. He did not pray any Sunnah between them. He then mounted his she-camel until he arrived at the place where he stood.
He put the tummy of his camel against the large rocks and turned toward those who were walking, facing the qiblah.
“The Prophet remained in attendance at Arafat until the sun had set and a little yellowness appeared, and the whole of the round shape of the sun had completely disappeared. He carried Usamah behind him on his camel and moved onward pulling the rein of his she-camel right back, to the extent that her head could touch his saddle. He motioned with his right hand and said: ‘Be calm! Be calm!’ Every time he came to a hill he would relax his grip on the rein a little so that the camel could go up hill. When he arrived at Muzdalifah he prayed there the two prayers of Maghreb and Isha with one adhan and two iqamas.
He ﷺ did not separate the two obligatory prayers with any glorification of Allāh. He then reclined until dawn. He then prayed Fajr or dawn prayers, when he was sure that it was due. An adhan and iqama were said before that prayer.
He ﷺ then mounted his she-camel and moved on until he arrived at Al-Mash’ar Al-Harām and, facing the qiblah, he prayed to Allāh, glorifying Him and repeating phrases confirming Allāh’s oneness and declaring that he believed in no deity other than Allāh until the light of day was very bright. He then moved forward before sunrise.
We note that the Prophet ﷺ used most of his time at Arafat and Muzdalifah in Allāh’s glorification. His prayers were combined, with each two offered together in the shortened form making every 4-rak’ah prayer in two rak’ahs only. This makes clear that during the time when a pilgrim is fully engaged with his pilgrimage duties, he should concentrate on these. Even prayers are shortened and combined so that his full attention is given to the pilgrimage rituals only.
We note that on arriving in Muzdalifah, the Prophet ﷺ offered his two obligatory prayers and went to sleep. All pilgrims are very tired at this point after having spent the day in Arafat and moved on to Muzdalifah.
To have maximum rest is of paramount importance. They continue to be fully engaged in a major and fully rewarding act of worship, even when they sleep at Muzdalifah. Therefore, they need not entertain any thought of offering voluntary night prayers. Even supplication can wait until the morning, following the Prophet’s example as he said all his supplication, or dua, in the morning, moving on to Mina shortly before sunrise.
“The Prophet carried Al-Fadl ibn Abbas (his cousin) behind him on his she-camel. Al-Fadl was a man of fine hair, fair complexion and generally handsome. When the Prophet moved on he came across some women riding on their camels and moving fast. Al-Fadl gazed at them and the Prophet put his hand on Al-Fadl’s face. Al-Fadl then turned his face the other way and gazed at the women. The Prophet put his hand again from the other side to turn Al-Fadl’s face away from the women. When he arrived at Muhassar Valley, he increased his speed a little and proceeded along the middle road (which was different from the one he used on his way to Arafat) which led to the Grand Jamrat.
“He proceeded up to the Jamrat, which is by the tree where he did the stoning. He threw at it seven little stones and each time he threw a stone, he said: ‘Allahu Akbar’, which means ‘God is supreme.’ When he finished his stoning he stood at the bottom of the valley (so that Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah were on his right-hand side and Makkah was to his left). He then went to the slaughter place where, with his own hand, he sacrificed 63 animals and asked Ali to slaughter the rest. Ali did that, and the Prophet made Ali his partner in his sacrifice. He ordered that a small piece of meat should be taken from each animal he sacrificed and they were all put in a large saucepan to cook. When it was ready, the Prophet and Ali had some soup and ate of the meat of that cooking.
“The Prophet then mounted his she-camel and went straight on to Makkah. Arriving at the Sacred Mosque he did the tawaf of ifādah and prayed Dhuhr at Makkah. He then went toward Zamzam where members of the clan of Abd Al-Muttalib (the Prophet’s own clan) were serving people, getting the water from the well of Zamzam to give a drink of its water to anyone who cared to have one. The Prophet said to his tribesmen: ‘You Bani Abd Al-Muttalib! Work hard at providing drinks for people. I would have joined you in your service except for my fear that people would overpower you to do this service.’ They gave him a bucket of water and he drank from it.”
The last statement by the Prophet ﷺ means that he feared that if he were to join his relatives in providing drinks for pilgrims, people would think this to be one of the pilgrimage rituals and everyone would try to emulate the Prophet. This would have led to chaos. Hence, he refrained from doing it.
The Hadīth mentions the order in which the Prophet did the four duties due on the day of sacrifice, i.e. 10 Dhul Hijjah. However, his companions did these in different orders. When they reported this to him, he approved all permutations. Thus, he made it easy to fulfill these duties for all time. Had he insisted on any particular order, this would have become obligatory. With the large numbers of pilgrims we see nowadays, it would have been impossible to fulfill these duties. The latitude the Prophet ﷺ allowed ensures that all pilgrims can fulfill their duties without much difficulty.
The Hadith Jābir reported on the Prophet’s ﷺ pilgrimage is thus concluded. It practically covers all aspects of the pilgrimage up to the end of 10th of Dhul Hijjah, leaving out only the stay in Mina and stoning on the following days and the tawaf of farewell.
This article was originally posted by Arab News in 2008
 Al-Qur’ān, 2: 158
Adil Salahi is a scholar, author, and translator, who has written or translated into English various books on Islam. He formerly taught at the Markfield Institute of Higher Education. He was also, for over thirty years, the editor of ‘Islam in Perspective’, a regular full-page column in the Arab News, a Saudi daily newspaper. Adil Salahi’s writings include the acclaimed Muhammad: Man and Prophet and Pioneers of Islamic Scholarship, and the English translation of the eighteen-volume commentary – In the Shade of the Qur’an – by Sayyid Qutb.