The Hajj..The Journey of a Lifetime
The Hajj ( Arabic: حَجّ Ḥaǧǧ “pilgrimage“) is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, the most holy city for Muslims, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their family during their absence. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, alongside Shahadah, Salat, Zakat, and Sawm. The Hajj is the largest annual gathering of people in the world. The state of being physically and financially capable of performing the Hajj is called istita’ah, and a Muslim who fulfills this condition is called a mustati. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God (Allah). The word Hajj means “to intend a journey”, which connotes both the outward act of a journey and the inward act of intentions.
The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th (or in some cases 13th) of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar. This year the Hajj is being
observed on Thursday, August 31st, (Dhul Hijjah 9, 1438) with the Eid ul Adha, The Day of Sacrifice being celebrated on Friday, Sept 1st (Dhul Hijjah 10, 1438).
Because the Islamic calendar is lunar and the Islamic year is about eleven days shorter than the Gregorian year, the Gregorian date of Hajj changes from year to year. Ihram is the name given to the special spiritual state in which pilgrims wear two white sheets of seamless cloth and abstain from certain actions.
(exerpt from WikIpedia-Hajj)
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC HAJJ DOCUMENTARY