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Bilateral Haj Agreement

8th January, 2024 International Relations

Bilateral Haj Agreement

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  • India and Saudi Arabia have formalized the Bilateral Haj Agreement for the year 2024.


  • With this agreement, a total quota of 1,75,025 pilgrims from India has been finalised.
  • Out of this, 1,40,020 seats have been reserved for pilgrims through the Hajj Committee of India and 35,005 pilgrims would proceed through Haj Group Operators.
  • This will greatly benefit the common first-time pilgrims intending to undertake the Haj pilgrimage in 2024.
  • The initiative by the Indian government towards encouraging participation under the Ladies without Mehram (LWM) category was discussed, deeply appreciated and lauded.

Haj Yatra: A Pilgrimage to Mecca

Meaning and Significance:

  • Haj Yatra refers to the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, one of the Five Pillars of Islam.
  • Haj is obligatory for every able-bodied and financially capable Muslim at least once in their lifetime.
  • It commemorates the actions of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his family, symbolizing devotion, sacrifice, and unity in Islam.


  • Hajj occurs annually during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah, specifically during the 8th to 12th days of the month.
  • It culminates in the celebration of Eid al-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice.

Rituals and Acts:

  • Ihram: Pilgrims enter a state of consecration, adopting specific clothing and a state of spiritual purity.
  • Tawaf: Pilgrims perform circumambulation around the Kaaba at the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, symbolizing the unity of Muslims.
  • Standing at Arafat: Pilgrims gather at the plain of Arafat, engaging in prayer and seeking forgiveness.
  • Stoning of the Devil (Rami): Pilgrims stone three pillars representing Satan, commemorating Prophet Ibrahim's rejection of temptation.
  • Sacrifice (Qurbani): Pilgrims offer the ritual sacrifice of an animal, echoing Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son.

Kaaba and Masjid al-Haram:

  • The Kaaba, a black cubic structure at the center of the Masjid al-Haram, is the focal point of the pilgrimage.
  • Pilgrims face the Kaaba in Mecca during their prayers, emphasizing unity and a common direction of worship.

Equality and Uniformity:

  • All pilgrims wear simple white garments (Ihram) irrespective of their social or economic status.
  • The uniform dress emphasizes equality and the universality of Islam.

Global Gathering:

  • Hajj draws millions of Muslims from around the world, creating a diverse and international assembly.
  • The gathering symbolizes the global unity of the Muslim ummah.

Spiritual Renewal:

  • Hajj is considered a journey of spiritual renewal, self-purification, and seeking forgiveness from Allah.
  • Pilgrims reflect on their lives, seek closeness to Allah, and strive for personal and moral development.

Community Bonding:

  • Pilgrims form bonds with fellow Muslims from different backgrounds, fostering a sense of community and brotherhood/sisterhood.
  • The shared experience strengthens the global Muslim community.

Five Pillars of Islam

The Five Pillars of Islam are the fundamental acts of worship and the foundation of a Muslim's faith and practice. They are considered mandatory for all Muslims and provide a framework for spiritual and ethical living. The Five Pillars are:

Shahada (Declaration of Faith):

Meaning: The declaration that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger.

Significance: It is the central tenet of Islam, expressing monotheism and the acceptance of Muhammad as the final prophet.

Salah (Prayer):

Meaning: Performing ritual prayers five times a day facing the Kaaba in Mecca.

Significance: Demonstrates devotion, humility, and a constant connection with Allah throughout the day. The prayers are at specific times: Fajr (pre-dawn), Dhuhr (midday), Asr (afternoon), Maghrib (sunset), and Isha (night).

Zakat (Charity):

Meaning: Giving a portion of one's wealth (usually 2.5%) to those in need, typically the poor and needy.

Significance: Fosters social responsibility, equality, and compassion. Zakat is a means of wealth redistribution and helping those less fortunate.

Sawm (Fasting during Ramadan):

Meaning: Abstaining from food, drink, and other physical needs from dawn to sunset during the month of Ramadan.

Significance: Encourages self-discipline, spiritual reflection, empathy for the less fortunate, and a deepening of faith. Ramadan is a month of heightened spiritual awareness.

Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca):

Meaning: Undertaking a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, at least once in a lifetime, if financially and physically able.

Significance: Represents unity among Muslims worldwide. The pilgrimage involves a series of rituals symbolizing the actions of Prophet Ibrahim and his family, demonstrating submission to Allah.

These Five Pillars provide Muslims with a clear framework for worship, morality, and community life. Following these pillars is considered essential for the fulfillment of one's religious duties and the cultivation of a strong Islamic identity.



Question. "Hajj, one of the Five Pillars of Islam, holds immense significance in the Islamic faith. In the context of Hajj, consider the following statements:

1."Tawaf" refers to the ritual of walking seven times counterclockwise around the Kaaba in Mecca during Hajj.

2."Ihram" is the term for the special attire worn by pilgrims, symbolizing a state of consecration.

3.The stoning of three pillars in Mina during Hajj commemorates the rejection of temptation by Prophet Muhammad.

Which of the statements above is/are correct?"

A. 1 and 2 only

B. 1 and 3 only

C. 2 and 3 only

D. 1, 2, and 3

Answer: D. 1, 2, and 3


  1. "Tawaf": Tawaf is indeed the ritual of circumambulation around the Kaaba in Mecca during Hajj, and pilgrims perform it seven times counterclockwise.
  2. "Ihram": Ihram is the special attire worn by pilgrims during the Hajj, symbolizing a state of consecration. It consists of two unsewn white sheets for men and a simple dress for women.
  3. Stoning of the Devil: Pilgrims stone three pillars in Mina during Hajj, symbolizing the rejection of temptation by Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his family, not Prophet Muhammad.