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A Pilgrim’s Guide: Experiences of Hajj

Hajj Stories speaks to Muslims who have performed the Hajj about their experiences, from making preparations to putting on ihram and seeing the Kaaba for the first time, together with the emotions and meaningful realisations that accompany completing the rites of Hajj.

Isra Morley

Hajj experiences - pilgrims at the Kaaba

Hajj is a pilgrimage that Muslims undertake over an approximate span of five days during Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar. This arduous journey is one of the five pillars of Islamic belief and is a mandatory obligation to any believer who is physically and financially able to complete it. Muslims all over the world save up, plan and spiritually prepare themselves over lifetimes in hope of fulfilling this increasingly unattainable pillar of Islam.

Praying at Arafat, one of the rites of Hajj

Hajj Stories is a mini-series comprising of short episodes detailing the personal experiences of Muslims who have made the holy pilgrimage of Hajj. In each episode interviewers pose a set of questions addressed to a group of diverse individuals and asks them to recount their personal experiences whilst completing the pilgrimage.

Kaaba at night in Hajj stories - mini series about Hajj experiences

With rising prices, confusing enrolment systems and overcrowding at all of the holy sites, the road to Hajj is fraught with more issues year by year. Despite this external stress, spiritual introspection remains the lasting focus and prevailing impact of the pilgrimage for all of these interviewees. These personal accounts grant audiences insight into a privileged experience, or perhaps allow those fortunate enough to have already made the pilgrimage to recall some of its magic and tranquillity.

Muzdalifa in documentary about Hajj

Hajj as a spiritual essential in Islam is one that is uniquely challenging, particularly as the religion spreads its influence to every corner of the globe. These episodes act as a guide and follow the different stages of the pilgrimage, starting with the preparation and the various ways one can achieve the honour of going on Hajj. From outlining the main commitments of Hajj and the preparation required beforehand to the emotions on seeing the Kaaba for the first time this series outlines the beautiful and somewhat overwhelming nature of the pilgrimage, a personal experience that holds true for all pilgrims no matter their origin. 

Kaaba surrounded by pilgrims in documentary about Hajj

All the interviewees cite the sense of unity and connection with all the other pilgrims around you despite their difference in race, class and language. What unites them are their intentions to gain a better understanding of God and to perfect their spirituality in the place where all people are made equal except through their good deeds and personal relationship with God. 

Tents on Hajj in documentary about the pilgrimage

This series is both informative and personally moving, featuring a set of diverse voices reflecting on a shared experience. The impact of the completion of such an important aspect of faith cannot be understated and it can be seen clearly in all the participants in this series who all cite it as a life-defining experience. It is simultaneously a guide and a celebration of the holy period of the Hajj pilgrimage and a celebration of humanity and the global unity this annual event fosters.   

Shaving hair on Hajj in documentary about the pilgrimage

Find more films and documentaries about Hajj in our Hajj collection, including fascinating archive material showing the pilgrimage in the early twentieth century, and read our review of some of the best movies, films and documentaries about the Hajj.

Filling up Zamzam bottle on Hajj

Isra Morley is in her final year studying English Literature and Latin at the University of Glasgow. Raised in Cardiff by an Indian mother and a Greek and Welsh convert father, Islam and the pursuit of its understanding have always been central to her life and writing. Having written articles for various Islamic publications, and taken part in assorted creative writing courses, she is currently an intern with the Alchemiya Journal.
'Circling the House of God' is an amazing documentary interviewing renowned writer and scholar Dr. Martin Lings (1909-2005) about his pilgrimages to Mecca in 1948 and 1976, interspersed with incredible archive material of the Hajj from the early twentieth century.
'Circling the House of God' is an amazing documentary interviewing renowned writer and scholar Dr. Martin Lings (1909-2005) about his pilgrimages to Mecca in 1948 and 1976, interspersed with incredible archive material of the Hajj from the early twentieth century.

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