Allah Almighty mentions in the Qur-aan: “Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve (lunar) months in the register of Allah (from) the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion (i.e. way), so do not wrong yourselves during them. And fight against the disbelievers collectively as they fight against you collectively. And know that Allah is with the righteous (who fear Him)” [Surah Tawbah 09: v:36]
It is with the wisdom of Allaah that He favored some months over others. The months for the pilgrimage are well known. The four sacred months, viz. Rajab (7th),Dhul Qadah (11th), Dhul Hijjah (12th, the month of Pilgrimage), and Muharram (1st). Excepting Rajab the other three months are consecutive. In all these months war was prohibited. That is to say, the first rites may begin as early as the beginning of Shawwal, with a definite approach to Makkah but the chief rites are concentrated on the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah, and especially on the 8th, 9th and 10th of that month, when the concourse of pilgrims reaches its height.
The month of Muharram (which means forbidden in Arabic) was thus named because the Arabs used to forbid fighting during it. Safar (which means zero in Arabic) was given this name because the Arabs used to loot all the property of the enemy after defeating them in battle (i.e. they left nothing behind). Rabee’ al-Awwal (which means graze in Arabic) because they used to graze their cattle during this month. Jumaadaa (which means solid in Arabic) was given this name because water used to freeze during this month. Rajab (which means remove in Arabic) was given this name because the Arabs used to remove the heads of their spears and refrain from fighting. Sha’baan (which is anything positioned between two things in Arabic) was given this name because it comes between Ramadaan and Rajab. Ramadaan (which means heat in Arabic) was given this name because of the hot temperature and excessive heat of the sun during this month. Shawwaal (which means raise in Arabic) was given this name because she camels would raise their tails when they became pregnant. Dhul-Qa’dah (which means sitting in Arabic) was given this name because it was the month during which they would sit and stop fighting. Dhul-Hijjah (which refers to Hajj in Arabic) was given this name because it was the month during which they performed Hajj.
These four months were called sacred for the gravity of committing a sin during them and for the position Allaah gave them. Ibn Abu Talhah, may Allaah have mercy upon him, narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allaah be pleased with him, said, ‘Allaah distinguished these four months and made them sacred, and glorified them; He made sinning during them more evil than during others; and the reward for righteous deeds is greater’.
Allah specially mentioned these four sacred months and forbade oppression as a way of honoring them, even though transgression is forbidden during all times, as Allah says that which means, “Hajj is (during) well known months, so whoever has made hajj obligatory upon himself therein (by entering the state of ihram), there is (to be for him) no sexual relations and no disobedience and no disputing during hajj. And whatever good you do – Allah knows it. And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is fear of Allah. And fear Me, Oh you of understanding” (Surah 02 al-Baqarah, v:197). This is the opinion which the majority of interpreters are upon, which is do not wrong yourselves during these four sacred months, but according to another narration Ibn ‘Abbaas, (RadiyAllahu ‘anhu), said, ‘During the full twelve months’
The chief rites of Hajj may be briefly enumerated:
(1) The wearing of the ihram from Miqaat fixed definitely on all the routes to Makkah. After this the pilgrimage prohibitions come into operation and the pilgrim is dedicated to worship and prayer and the denial of vanities.
(2) Going round the Ka’bah anti-clockwise seven times (tawaaf), typifying activity, with the kissing of the little Black Stone (Hajrul Aswad) built into the wall, the symbol of concentration in the love of Allah.
(3) After a short prayer at the Station of Abraham (Maqaamu Ibraheem), the pilgrim visits what may be called as station of Ismaeel (the fountain of Zam Zam) followed by running between the hills of Safa and Marwah (Sa’ee), the symbol of patience and perseverance; the running between the two hills has both spiritual and moral dimensions.
(4) The great Sermon (Khutba) on the 7th of Dhul Hijja.
(5) On the 8th Dhul Hijjah, the whole body of pilgrims moves to the Valley of Mina (about six miles north of Makkah, where the pilgrims halt and stay the night.
(6) On 9th they proceed to the plain and hill of ‘Arafah, which is also called the Mount of Mercy (Jabl Rahmah) about five miles further north.
(7) The tenth day, Yaum Nahr, the day of Sacrifice, when the sacrifice is offered in the Valley of Mina, the head is shaved or the hair trimmed.
(8) The symbolic ceremony of casting seven pebbles at the Jamaraat is performed at Jamaratul ‘Aqabah on the first occasion
(9) The Tawaaf al-lfaadah or circumambulation of the Ka’bah is undertaken.
(10) The Rami (stoning of the Jamaraat) is continued on subsequent days, both rites are connected with the story of Ibraheem (alayhis salaam). This is the ‘Eid-ul-Adhaa’, the ceremony is connected with the rejection of evil in thought, word, and deed. A stay of two or three days after this is prescribed. These three days are called Tashriq days. The Appointed Days: the three days after the tenth, when the pilgrims stay on in the Valley of Mina for prayer and praise is optional for pilgrims to leave on the second or third day.