What happens after one performs Hajj?

Afghans greet Hajj pilgrims
Afghans greet Hajj pilgrims. Majid Saeedi/Getty Images

Question

What happens after one performs Hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage to Makkah?

Answer

Many Muslims make only pilgrimage trip during their lifetimes. In the days and weeks after Hajj, many pilgrims thus take advantage of their travel time by visiting the city of Madinah, 270 miles north of Makkah. The people of Madinah provided refuge to the early Muslim community, when they were being persecuted by the powerful Makkan tribes.

Madinah became a center for the growing Muslim community, and was home to the Prophet Muhammad and his followers for many years. Pilgrims visit the Prophet’s Mosque, where Muhammad is buried, as well as other ancient mosques, and the many historical battle sites and graveyards in the area.

It is also common for pilgrims to shop for mementos to bring as gifts to loved ones back home. Prayer rugs, prayer beads, Qurans, clothing, and Zamzam water are the most popular items. Most Muslims leave Saudi Arabia within a week or two after the Hajj is over. The Hajj visa expires on the 10th of Muharram, about a month after the Hajj is finished.

When the pilgrims return to their home countries after the journey of Hajj, they return spiritually refreshed, forgiven of their sins, and ready to start life anew, with a clean slate. The Prophet Muhammad once told his followers that, "Whoever performs the Hajj for the pleasure of Allah, and utters no evil words and commits no evil deeds during it, shall return from it as free from sin as the day on which his mother gave birth to him."

Family and community members often prepare a celebration to welcome pilgrims home and congratulate them on completing the journey. It is recommended to be humble in such gatherings, and to ask the ones returning from Hajj to pray for your forgiveness, as they are in a strong position to do so. The Prophet said: "When you meet a hajji (on his way home) then greet him, shake hands with him and ask him to beg forgiveness of Allah on your behalf before he enters his home.

His prayer for forgiveness is accepted, as he is forgiven by Allah for his sins."

For a person returning from Hajj, it is often a bit of shock to return to "regular life" upon returning home. The old habits and temptations come back, and one must be vigilant in changing one's life for the better and remembering the lessons learned during the pilgrimage. It is the best time to turn over a new leaf, nurture a life of faith, and be extra vigilant in fulfilling Islamic duties.

Those who have performed the Hajj are often called by an honorific title, “Hajji,” (one who has performed the Hajj).