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Last Updated: Friday, 14 December 2007, 13:38 GMT
Hajj Diary 1: Nervous anticipation
The BBC's Imtiaz Tyab is performing the Hajj this year and writing a diary of his experience for the BBC News website.

Aerial view of Great Mosque at Mecca - file 2006

I must confess. I'm feeling quite anxious at the moment.

On Saturday morning I fly out to Saudi Arabia to report on the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

While I'm excited at the prospect of reporting on a global news story, I'm afraid I'm in over my head.

It'll be my first time performing Hajj.

Imtiaz Tyab
Have I memorised the right Koranic verses? Will I perform the right actions? Will my Hajj be accepted?
I can't tell you how many sleepless nights I've had wondering whether I'll be able to do it properly.

Have I memorised the right suras (Koranic verses)? Will I perform the right actions? Will my Hajj be accepted?

With only a few days to go, I'm still not sure...

Luckily I'll be with colleagues who have performed Hajj. They say it's hard. And I believe them.

On Sunday the team and I will do the Umrah, the "lesser" pilgrimage.

To do that we'll have to enter a state of Ihram - which has strict codes on what to do, how to dress and how to behave.

Women can wear any form of clothing in line with the rules of Sharia, but men can only wear two pieces of unstitched cloth.

It symbolises equality - all men and women are equal in God's eyes.

Being in Ihram means not whinging about people, not intentionally harming anyone and if you're married, no sexual relations with your spouse.

The act of Umra itself should be fairly easy...

After the Tawaf - walking around the Kaaba, the cube-like structure at the centre of the Great Mosque in Mecca - we will offer two rakaas or units of prayer, followed by drinking water from the holy Zam Zam spring.

We must then walk between the hills of Safa and Murwa, seven times.

Finally, to end the rituals of Umra, men must then either shave their hair or cut it short and women must cut off a lock of hair.

I think I got that right. At least I hope I did, and will do when the time comes.

And while I'm still unsure about the days to come, one thing is for certain.

I can't wait to go to the Great Mosque in Mecca that houses the Kaaba.

Every prayer that a Muslim performs is offered in the direction of the mysterious building, draped in black silk, forever surrounded by pilgrims.

Muslims believe the structure was built by Abraham and his son Ishmael.

I'm still not sure how I will feel once I see it for myself.

Something tells me it will be worth all the sleepless nights.


SEE ALSO
What is the Hajj?
27 Dec 06 |  Middle East

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