New Delhi, Oct 25: Haj in Arabic means "pilgrimage". It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in a lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so.
Haj is a demonstration of solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to Allah (God).
The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th day to the 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th and last month of the Islamic calendar. Because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, eleven days shorter than the Gregorian calendar used in the Western world, the Gregorian date of the Haj changes from year to year.
Ihram is the name given to the special spiritual state in which Muslims live while on pilgrimage.