Ramadan 2015: Makkah Pilgrims Reach 14 Million - Middle East - News - OnIslam.net
Beating the record of previous years, the number of pilgrims for Ramadan Umrah 2015 to the holy land has reached fourteen million according to International Business Times.
The Arab News reported a swift increase in the number of Makkah-bound pilgrims compared to previous years, a 40 percent increase over the same period in 2014, according to the Central Hajj Committee.
The record shows visits to the holy land have recently increased to the highest rate despite ongoing renovations to the Grand Mosque. It is estimated that around 5 million of those performing Umrah were visitors to Saudi Arabia.
"Selfies are just a way to make the memory last in the coolest possible way. Hajj is always seen as something very serious and for older people. Selfies make it cool again," Amir Marouf, a 30-year-old Egyptian, stated in a Reuters report.
This year Ramadan began at sunset June 17 in Saudi Arabia the home of Islam and is expected to end the evening of July 17, with nearly eight million having visited Mecca’s Grand Mosque, almost 50 percent more than the number visiting in 2014.
To begin the performance of `Umrah is to enter the city of Makkah with ihram (a sacred state), and the intention of making `Umrah before crossing the pilgrimage boundary, known as miqat, by performing the cleansing rituals and wearing the prescribed attire.
Upon entering the Holy city, pilgrims then perform circumambulation (tawaf) around the Ka`bah, perform sa`i between the two small mountains of Safa and Marwa, and finally to shave the head or have a haircut; a woman cuts her hair from the ends of the hair the length of a fingertip.
This was the ancient practice from the time of Prophet Ibrahim (peace and blessings be upon him). Its purpose is to allow Muslims to visit the city of Makkah during the year whenever possible. It is to keep the Ka`bah visited not only during the Hajj but to keep it visited by Muslims throughout the year.
According to [some] Muslim jurists`Umrah is obligatory (upon those who can afford it), at least once in a lifetime, either with or before Hajj or at any other time during the year.
As one of the five pillars of Islam, Hajj is incumbent upon those who can afford it, once in a lifetime.