What are the sunnah acts of hajj? What are the recommended acts of performing hajj? How many sunnahs are there in hajj? What is the most important act of hajj?
1) To perform ghusl or wuḍū for entering the state of iḥrām for cleaning purposes. It is reported that the Prophet performed ablution while entering the state of iḥrām in Dhu’l-Hulayfa for the Farewell pilgrimage. Since this is for cleaning purposes, menstruating women and those in the postpartum bleeding period who are going to enter the state of iḥrām for hajj or ʿumra also do this. In a report narrated by Ibn Abbas as a marfūʿ hadith, the following is stated, “The women in post-natal bleeding and menses were to perform Ghusl, enter the state of iḥrām and carry out all of the rites except for ṭawāf around the House, until they become clean.” As a matter of fact, while entering the state of iḥrām in Dhu’l-Hulayfa for the Farewell pilgrimage, Asma bint Umays, a female companion, gave birth to Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr. When she came to the Prophet and asked what to do, the Messenger of Allah (saw) said to Asma, “Perform ghusl, tie your private parts with a bandage, and enter the state of iḥrām.”
2) To perform a two-cycle iḥrām prayer. It is more virtuous to make the intention and recite the talbiyah after this ritual prayer. As a matter of fact, the following is stated in a hadith, “The Prophet (saw) performed a two-cycle prayer in Dhu’l-Hulayfa, then entered the state of iḥrām.” It is sunnah to recite the surah al-Kafirūn in the first cycle and the surah al-Ikhlas in the second cycle of this prayer. According to the Malikis and the Ḥanbalis, one enters the state of iḥrām after an obligatory prayer. This is because it was narrated from Ibn Abbas (ra) that the Messenger of Allah (saw) did so. According to the Ḥanafis, if it coincides with the obligatory prayer, the obligatory prayer will suffice in place of the iḥrām prayer. This is based on making an analogy to the prayer of taḥiyyāt al–masjid.
3) For the state of iḥrām, cover the body with two new white towels. It is sunnah for men to take off all their clothes and underwear and cover the body both upper and lower parts, with two pieces of towel length cloth. It is mustaḥab for these covers to be white, new, or washed and cleaned.
Head is kept uncovered and feet are bare. One may wear slippers. The following is stated in a hadith, “One of you should enter the state of iḥrām with an izar (lower loincloth), a rida (upper loincloth), and two slippers. One who does not find slippers (to wear) he may wear stockings, but (only) after trimming them below the ankles.”
Women who enter the state of iḥrām do not change their clothes and do not keep their heads uncovered. Only their faces should be kept uncovered and they do not raise their voices while reciting the talbiyah.
4) Applying something fragrant, such as rose oil, before entering the state of iḥrām. It is reported from Aisha (r.anha) that she said, “I applied the best perfume, which I could get, to the Messenger of Allah (saw) before entering upon the state of iḥrām.” Accordingly, there is no harm in having the smell of the fragrance while being in the state of iḥrām as long as it was worn before entering the state of iḥrām. However, after entering the state of iḥrām, it is no longer permissible to wear perfume or even to use scented soap.
5) After Iḥrām, recite the talbiyah by saying “Labbayk, Allāhumma labbayk…” three times in a medium voice at every dawn, after performing every prayer, when going up or down from a slope, every time one comes across a group of pilgrims. The iḥrām process begins with the first talbiyah recited with the intention of iḥrām at the place of mīqāt and to glorify Allah. After that, it is sunnah to say the phrase “Labbayk Allāhumma Labbayk…” three times on the road, when going up and down from a slope, when encountering fellow travelers and after performing the ritual prayers. The voice is raised from time to time in talbiyah.
According to the majority, except for the Malikis, the talbiyah is stopped when the first pebble is thrown at Jamra al-Aqaba on the first day of Eid al-Aḍḥā since that is what the Prophet (saw) did. However, if one gets shaved before throwing the pebbles, the reciting of the talbiyah must stop. For instance, the one who performs ʿumra stops reciting the talbiyah when he starts circumambulation.
6) To send peace and blessings to the Messenger of Allah (saw) after the talbiyah.
7) To pray to Allah after sending peace and blessings to the Prophet. It can be prayed like this: “Allāhumma! Innī as’aluka riḍāka wa’l-jannata, wa aūdhu bika min ghazabika wa’n-nār.” (O Allah! I want Your contentedness and Paradise. I seek refuge in You from Your wrath and Hell.)
Imam Muhammad says in his book al-ʿAṣl: “There is no specific invocation for the places of pilgrimage because designation eliminates the tenderness of the heart. However, it would be nice if one recites the transmitted dhikr (remembrance) in order to receive blessings.” This is absolute dhikr and it is more virtuous than reading the Qur’an because it is not reported that the Prophet (saw) recited the Qur’an during the circumambulation. However, it is narrated that he recited the prayer “Rabbanā atinā fi’d-dunyā…” between the two corners of the Kaʿba. Since repeating the same invocations too many times eliminates the tenderness of the heart and contradicts sincerity, turns it into a habit, and can prevent conscious communication, for that reason, it is mustaḥab for everyone to invoke as they wish. However, it has been contended that it is recommended to say the invocations transmitted from the Prophet as a blessing.
8) Bathing to enter Mecca and to enter Mecca during the day. Saying prayers upon seeing the Kaʿba. To utter takbīr and tahlīl in front of the Kaʿba.
9) Performing ṭawāf al-qudūm. According to the majority of jurists, it is sunnah for āfāqīs who come from outside and who are going to perform ifrād or qirān pilgrimage to perform the circumambulation of qudūm. The Malikis consider this circumambulation wājib.
10) Performing Ramal. It is sunnah for men to perform “ramal” in the first three shawṭs of the types of circumambulation which are followed by saʿy. Ramal means to walk quickly and astutely by walking with short steps and shrugging the shoulders in circumambulation. Women do not perform ramal.
There is an effort to appear strong against the hostile and malicious glances while performing ramal. For, in the circumambulation of the ʿumra performed one year after the treaty of Hudaybiyya, the Prophet ordered his Companions to perform ramal, that is, to walk lively in order not to appear weak, tired, and exhausted against the enemy. In the farewell circumambulation, one does not perform ramal.
11) To perform iḍṭibā. It is sunnah for men to perform “iḍṭibā” in circumambulations in which ramal is performed. Iḍṭibā means to take one end of the upper towel and throw it over the left shoulder, and thus leave the right arm and shoulder uncovered before starting the circumambulation.
12) Performing Harwala. Harwala means that people walk swiftly or run between two green poles while performing saʿy between the hills of Safa and Marwa.
13) To perform many supererogatory circumambulations during the hajj.
14) Delivering a sermon in Mecca after the noon prayer on the seventh day of Dhu’l-Hijja and giving information about the pilgrimage.
15) To go to Mina after sunrise on the eighth day of Dhu’l-Hijja and stay there that night.
16) To go from Mina to Arafat after sunrise on the ninth day of Dhu’l-Hijja. On that day, which is Arafa, the noon and late afternoon prayers are performed as combined at Arafat (jamʿ al-taqdīm) at noon, and the evening and night prayers are combined in Muzdalifah (jamʿ al-ta’khīr) at night.
17) In Arafat, the emir of the pilgrimage delivers two sermons before the noon and late afternoon prayers, which will be performed as combined after zawāl.
18) On the first day of Eid al-Aḍḥā, a sermon is delivered in which the rest of the worships of the pilgrimage are explained. Thus, there will be three sermons.
19) To invoke Allah for himself, his parents, and other believers in awe and humility during the prayers in Arafat and Muzdalifah.
20) To leave slowly from Arafat after sunset and camp near the Kuzah Hill, called Mashʿar al-Ḥaram, after arriving in Muzdalifah.
21) To stay in Muzdalifah on the night of Eid, go to Mina on the morning of Eid, and stay in Mina together with one’s belongings on the days of Eid al-Aḍḥā.
22) When throwing pebbles in Mina, take Mina to the right and Mecca to the left, to stone the first and middle Jamra on foot, and the large (Aqaba) Jamra on a mount. Today, the third Jamra can also be stoned on foot.
23) To do the stoning on the first day, between the sun and time of zawāl, and between zawāl and sundown on the other days.
24) For a person who wants to hurry from Mina to Mecca, to leave Mina before sunset on the third day of Eid.
25) To stop for a while at the place called “Muḥaṣṣab” on the way from Mina to Mecca.
26) After arriving at Mecca, performing the farewell ṭawāf and performing the ṭawāf prayer, to drink plenty of Zamzam water and pour it on in a standing position, and look at the Baytullāh.
27) To place the chest and face on the place called Multazam, which is between Ḥajar al-Aswad and the door of the Kaʿba.
28) To hold on to the cover of the Kaʿba and invoke Allah and if it is possible to enter the Kaʿba, to perform a two-cycle prayer with perfect decency.
29) To go to Medina and visit the Messenger of Allah (saw)’s grave.
Even if a person who abandons the sunnah acts of hajj is deprived of its virtues and rewards, he does not need to be penalized by offering a sacrifice.
 Al-Zaylaī, Naṣb al-Rāya, III, 17.
 Al-Tirmidhī, Ḥajj, 98; Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal, ibid, I, 364; Abū Dawūd, Manāsik, 9.
 Muslim, Ḥajj, 109, 110, 147.
 Al-Zaylaī, ibid, III, 30 ff.
 Ibn Abidīn, ibid, IV, 473.
 Al-Bukhari, Ḥajj, 21, 23.
 Al-Shawkanī, ibid, IV, 305.
 Al-Bukhari, Ḥajj, 18, Libās, 79, 81; Muslim, Ḥajj, 37; al-Darimī, Manāsik, 10; al-Tirmidhī, Ḥajj, 77.
 Al-Nasā’ī, Manāsik, 229, Ibn Maja, Manāsik, 69; Abū Dawūd, Manāsik, 27, 28; al-Tirmidhī, Ḥajj, 78, 79.
 Ibn Abidīn, ibid, IV, 511.
 Muslim, Ḥajj, 39, Hadith No: 240.