5 Steps Before Performing Hajj

Performing Hajj is a duty endowed upon every abled Muslim. While it is a dream for all Muslims to fulfill this obligation at least once in their lifetime, only the more fortunate ones get the chance to visit the House of Allah.

We all feel the excitement of the pilgrimage, the recitation of duas and the preparations whether it is you, your family or someone you know is going for Hajj. Hajj is an obligation which requires strong imaan and good physical health; hence it is necessary that you make the essential preparations before performing the Hajj to help you make the most out of it.

5 Steps Before Performing Hajj

1. Make Duas and Ask Allah (SWT)

The first step is your niat (intention). Make a clear intention that you are performing the hajj pilgrimage for the sake of Allah. Make lots of Duas to Allah to give you the health, strength and resources to perform and to complete the hajj pilgrimage.

2. Pilgrimage Time and Costs

It is always better to start ahead of time. The duration of a hajj pilgrimage takes up 3 to 4 weeks (sometimes longer), hence you should start planning a year ahead. If you are employed, you will have to talk to your employer about the leave of absence you require and to talk to a travel agent to know the exact dates of the pilgrimage in the following year. You can obtain a rough estimation on the dates from the pilgrimage packages advertised by agencies and the additional costs which you may incur. These will give you a good deal of time to save up for a year and to shop for the best Hajj deals available.

Hajj packages undergo price hikes when you try to book an agent with an – around the corner dates. However, this can be avoided when you talk to an agent beforehand and plan your pilgrimage timely along with other details (immigration, group lead, hotel stay and travel etc.). By doing this, you are able to get a much clearer idea on the Hajj packages and save a lot of money.

3. Physical Health

While we believe health and sickness are both from Allah (SWT), it is also compulsory for you to take the necessary steps to make sure you are in good health. Get an overall health check – up done by a doctor before you leave for the pilgrimage to know your current physical condition. You should know the condition of your vital organs, medication that you will have to take, doses of current medication that you will have to change and most importantly vaccination shots to be taken.

Consult your physician for medical advice or do a quick study on the internet for more health – related information. World Health Organization (WHO) for example frequently updates their report on the guidelines and requirements for international travellers such as medical requirement as well as health risks on various countries which could help in your preparation.

4. Know About the Required Documents and Travel Agents

There are many travel agents out there that provide multiple Hajj packages. It is vital for you to consider travel agents that would handle most (if not all) of the necessary paperwork for you. Make sure to ask the travel agents on any doubts that you have. Learn about services available by the agencies such as transportation options. Travelling by bus may require long hours but the alternative taxi service comes with an additional cost.

Ensure you have a valid passport that extends to at least a period of 6 months from the date of your departure. Passport procedures require a certain period of time to be processed. Therefore, start working ahead and do the needful such as renewal of passport, visa application etc. Consult with travel agents who will take care of these needs especially your visa application – where more documents will be required in order to be approved.

5. The Big List

The Hajj essentials list varies from the compulsory Ihram (clothing worn during hajj)to the smallest item such as a pen. These items would make your journey to and stay in Saudi Arabia safe and convenient (and to save you from unnecessary spending during your pilgrimage).

1. Ihram

A white garment consists of two pieces of unsewn and plain cloth, usually cotton.  They have to be light, cool and sweat-absorbant to ensure you clothes are comfortable during Hajj.

2. Medication

Joint pain, gastrointestinal problem and respiratory infections are some of the common ailments that occur during the Hajj period. The close proximity to thousands of people, the exertion in prayers and the physically demanding Hajj rites can make one fatigue and thus, weakening the immune system. Talk to your physician and get the necessary medications or supplements in case of these health challenges.

3. Money

Plan your expenses and bring sufficient money to cover them. Carrying large amounts of money can pose safety issues on the travellers themselves to which you can resort to a travellers’ cheque. This cheque can be cashed almost anywhere and is easily replaced in case of theft. Carrying a credit card is also a safer option.

4. Waist Pouch

Carry a waist pouch with the essentials all the time. Keep your valuables, i. e. passport, travellers’ cheque, credit card, keys etc with you at all times. Always keep an eye on your pouch especially in over-crowded places.

5. Snacks / Water

Though it is not necessary for you to carry your food around, you can bring some snacks or energy bars with you to keep you going with the Hajj arrangements for the day. These can come in handy especially during rites – packed days to replenish your energy.

6. Miscellaneous

Don’t forget to pack your prayer tools such as pocket Quran and tasbeeh and your personal hygiene supplies such as toothbrush, toothpaste, nail clippers and lip balm. Other essential you may want to include in your list are slippers, umbrella, flashlight, detergent, napkins, a cap, and sunglasses.

7. Exercise Regime

Some of the hajj rites would require physical exertion whereby it requires strength and endurance. In order to complete these rites alongside millions of people, with the hot weather and within the limited time frame you definitely need to build up your stamina. Hence, it is necessary for you to be in a good shape before you take off for hajj pilgrimage. Start with a routine of brisk walking or jogging for about 20 minutes to an hour a day. You can increase this duration as days go by. You could also practice reciting the Talbiyah and Tawaf prayers audibly while carrying out the exercises.

8. Talk to Someone Who Has Performed Hajj

Take this opportunity to gain useful tips and advice from  family or friends who have performed their Hajj. The first-hand experiences and the details on difficulties they faced will give you a clearer image and prepare you better for your Hajj.

You may also want to browse through your Google / Apple store and install useful apps to prepare you for the Hajj. Tabung Haji for example developed THijari, an app dedicated for Malaysian pilgrims to assist their Hajj preparations including Hajj payments, Hajj status and review, flight details as well as providing them with Hajj related news.

Other mobile apps which you may find helpful during your Hajj:

1. Hajj and Umrah Guide by Darussalam Publishers and Distributors
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.darussalam.hajjandumrah

2. Hajj and Umrah by IT Department of Dawateislami
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.hasshub.hajjoumrah

3. Hajj Help by App Engineer
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.labbayak

Conclusion

When Allah (SWT) blesses you with this opportunity, it is necessary that you prepare yourself beforehand to make the best out of your pilgrimage. Make early preparations to avoid any last minute hassles to ensure your time is used to focus on the prayers and rites. You should start with choosing the right travel agent, talking to those who have performed their Hajj and inculcate a new exercise regime in your routine to ensure your are physical fit to perform the Hajj.  

Source: https://www.globalsadaqah.com/blog/5-steps-performing-hajj/

How to perform hajj

How Muslims perform the rituals of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

Millions of Muslims from around the world gather annually in Mecca in anticipation of Hajj – the Muslim pilgrimage, which follows the actions of the Prophet Muhammad 1,377 years ago.

Taking part in the pilgrimage at least once in one’s lifetime is a major obligation for all able-bodied Muslims of financial means, and between two and three million people participate in the six-day ritual every year.

Hajj occurs in the 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar, called Dhul-Hijjah, between the eighth and 13th days of the month.

While the specific rituals carried out by Muslims today date back to the Prophet Muhammad’s “farewell pilgrimage” in 632 AD, travelling to Mecca was a sacred annual rite for Arabian tribes centuries before the advent of Islam.

According to Islamic tradition, the Kaaba – a black silk-clad stone structure at the heart of the Grand Mosque in Mecca – was built by the Prophet Abraham in biblical times. 

Hajj is, put simply, complex. There are several different ways of performing it, and numerous schools of Islamic thought, between which lie many scholarly differences. Here is a breakdown of the steps included in performing hajj. 

 

Enter ihram (the sacred state)

The very first rite of Hajj is entering ihram  a pilgrim’s sacred state – when crossing the outer boundaries of Mecca, called Miqat .

On the eighth of Dhul-Hijjah, pilgrims enter ihram, which entails wearing plain garments – two unstitched cloths for men, or loose-fitting clothing for women – as well as following certain rules, such as not giving in to anger or engaging in sexual activity.

Head to Mina, a sprawling tent city

The pilgrims then set out en masse from Mecca to the sprawling tent-city of Mina, whether by foot along pilgrim paths or by buses and cars. It is an 8 km journey.

The pilgrims will spend the day in Mina, only setting out the next morning at dawn. Most of the time in Mina is spent in prayer and remembering Allah. 

Pilgrims spend most of their time in worship inside tents in Mina [Ahmad Masood/Reuters]

Spend the day at Arafat

The Day of Arafat is considered one of the most important days, not just of Hajj, but of the Islamic calendar. Mount Mercy at Arafat was the scene of the Prophet Muhammad’s final sermon. After making the 14.4 km journey from Mina, pilgrims spend the day here in reverent prayer. 

Elsewhere in the world, many Muslims choose to fast on this day.

Collect pebbles at Muzdalifah

After sunset, its time to move again, this time to Muzdalifah – a 9 km trip – where they spend the night under the stars. Many will also begin collecting pebbles here for tomorrow’s rites, departing again just before sunrise. 

Pilgrims gather at Mount Arafat for key rite

Throw stones at the pillars

For those performing Hajj, the day is known as yawm-ul hajj al-akbar (The big hajj day) and is probably the longest day of the pilgrimage, and the most dangerous.The 10th of Dhul-Hijjah is Eid al-Adha, a day celebrated by Muslims around the world as the greater of the two Muslim holidays.

Pilgrims start the day in Muzdalifah and begin heading back to Mina before dawn. Once in Mina, they perform the first rami, throwing seven pebbles at the largest of three columns known as Jamarat.

This act is a symbolic stoning of the devil, based on historical tradition. God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, the story goes, as proof of faith. It is believed that at this spot in Mina, the devil appeared and tried to dissuade Abraham from heeding the command. Abraham responded by throwing stones to scare him off.

Millions of pilgrims converge at the Jamarat Bridge, which houses the three columns representing the devil, in order to re-enact the story.

Pilgrims cast their stones at pillars [Ali Jarekji/Reuters]

The bridge has been the sight of deadly stampedes in the past, with around 350 people being crushed to death in 2006.

But in recent years, the event has taken place without major incident.

After casting their stones, pilgrims must perform the sacrifice. Completing the story, when Abraham went to sacrifice his son, he found God had placed a ram there to be slaughtered instead.

Pilgrims thus must slaughter a sheep, goat, cow or camel – or more likely, pay for it to be done in their names.

At this point, pilgrims trim or shave (men only) their hair and remove their ihram clothes. Many will then proceed to Mecca to perform tawaf and sa’ee, first circling the Kaaba seven times, then walking seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwa.

When all is finally done, they return to their campsite in Mina.

Final days in Mina

On each day, they will again symbolically stone the devil – this time throwing seven pebbles at each of the three pillars.With the hardest part behind them, pilgrims will now spend the next two or three days in Mina.

When their time in Mina is finished, the pilgrims return to Mecca to perform the final circulation of the Kaaba, a “farewell” tawaf.

Before heading home, many also go to Medina, the second holiest city in Islam, where the Prophet Muhammad is buried along with his closest companions. Visiting Medina, however, is not part of the pilgrimage.

Source: https://www.aljazeera.com/focus/hajj/2009/11/2009111895127111168.html