How to Prepare for the Journey of your Lifetime, Hajj!
How to Prepare for the Journey of your Lifetime, Hajj!
Letter from my Friend to me…
Assalaamu alaikum my dear,
Firstly mabrook on your intention of Hajj! May Allah grant you an easy journey and accept your Hajj, ameen. I’m so excited and feeling really emotional for you. Before I left for Hajj, people called me to say goodbye and those that had been before, would ask me to make dua for them, convey their salaam to our Rasool saw, all with tears in their eyes and lumps in their throats. I didn’t really get it at the time but having been there myself, I now understand that sadness, gratitude and peace. I’ve reached milestones in my life… graduation, getting married, having children alhamdulillah but Hajj was by far, the most precious three weeks of my life and I miss it in a way I can’t and probably never will, miss anything else.
So rather than just reminiscing about it, I should probably try to give you some practical advice…
Prepare yourself mentally. Identify your reason for going. Of course its a fard and you’ve been blessed with the opportunity to go but aside from that, think about the thing your soul, your deen and your akhirah are in need of most and keep that close to you throughout your Hajj. Allah has chosen you to be among His worshipers in the blessed land so beg Him for the things you are most in need of.
Make a dua list! I printed off any duas that friends and families had sent me and carried them around with me everywhere but the group leaders we traveled with had advised we make a list of the things we want to make dua for from the smallest to the biggest. There are times where you are so overwhelmed that its hard to take full advantage of your situation. Or sooo tired that having your dua written down to read makes it easier to maintain stamina. I wrote mine in a little book and whenever something occurred to me, I’d add it. That way, you have everything in one place and InshaAllah can make that dua at all the sacred places and best times to make dua.
Read about the history/stories behind Hajj. I don’t mean an in depth study, but just the basics of how and why the rituals came about. If you’ve been on umrah before, you might already know what I’m talking about but there can be times where everything looks so artificial, or so developed, that you can’t picture what it once was. It helps to know the story behind what you are replicating so you stay connected to the process, rather than just going through the motions.
Memorize as much as you can or have everything sorted in a simple, easy to access format. I admit I failed miserably at this. I found it hard to memorize what should be said where cos I hadn’t been even on umrah before so anything I did memorize was all in a muddled sequence in my head. Fortunately, the group we traveled with had a really good, simple Hajj guide that you could flip through easily and wear around your neck. If your group doesn’t do something similar, then just make sure whatever you carry with you is all contained in one place. Once you’re performing certain rites, you are focusing so hard on just getting through crowds, the heat etc that you don’t want to be fumbling lots of paper/books.
Start practicing your sabr now lol. This one of the things that was emphasized most by our group in all the pre Hajj seminars. You see and experience plenty of stuff that could make you angry but you have to remember where you are and what your purpose is. I was disappointed to see some people’s complete lack of adhab. Alhamdulillah, Allah has made me a patient person but you’ll be surprised by the things you see that get to you.
Ignore the horror stories. Take from them for practical reasons, but don’t worry about them. They can ruin your experience, are likely to be people’s personal perspectives and not necessarily anything to do with Hajj. Yes, the toilets in Mina are filthy but subhanAllah, for some people who are on Hajj, that is the easiest access they’ve had to running water so who are we to complain?! Most of the things that we feel like complaining about, only come about because we live unbelievably privileged lives and are from a different culture. If you view things in those contexts, you feel incredibly humbled. Only allow yourself to be upset by the things worthy of upset… Like the orphaned children outside the haram, the number of janazas you’ll pray, your last gaze upon the kabaa. SubhanAllah.
Know your fiqh! I’m sure you will have someone in the group who is your go-to for the sticky fiqhys but you still need to be clear on which fiqh you follow as there are minor differences between madhabs.
Travel light. Its fine to take as much as you need and leave space for shopping if you’re planning on doing any, but for the actual days of Hajj, you don’t want to be carrying too much. It also depends on how your group has arranged accommodation. We stayed in apartments in azizyah for the day or two before the actual days of Hajj but were told not to take suitcases into the tents at Mina cos of space issues. I fit everything into a backpack which stayed in the tents in Mina and day to day, took out what I needed (water, quran, phone etc) and carried it in a drawstring bag.
Get comfy shoes! One day, my husband and I walked for about 10 hours straight cos even when you’re doing tawaf etc, you’re still on your feet. I used bog standard crocs and was completely fine in them. Some people also wore slipper socks/padded socks for in the haram cos walking on marble floor can also be hard on your feet.
Wear light, comfortable clothing.
When you’re in Mina, you sleep like sardines and sweat like pigs lol. Its not clean and it is uncomfortable but you get a really amazing sense of sisterhood so make the most of that aspect of it. But practically speaking, you might want some scent free hand sanitizer and your own supply of toilet paper. You have to queue for the toilets so go well in advance of the start of salah to make wudhu and prepare for women trying to knock the door down while you’re doing your business lol. The showers are just a pipe that pour water right over the toilet/cubicle so have some kind of water proof bag to keep your change of clothes/toiletries in. You will only need a small hand towel so theres less to carry and its so hot, you’ll dry off quick anyway.
Take medications with you. Immodium, flu stuff, bandaids and maybe energy bars/tablets are the most important. Alhamdulillah, we were totally fine throughout Hajj but I got sick on the day we travelled back home and had a horrible cough and flu so you def want to be prepared in case you get sick while on Hajj.
When making tawaaf, the best place is the ground floor, as close to the kabaa as possible. Not only are you close to it, but its the quickest. the crowding is bad and the heat is intense but you get the tawaaf done in the most efficient way. It sounds like I’m saying its bad to take time but sometimes you might be pushed to get everything done in the time given by your group and making tawaaf on the upper floors can get really tiring. You also can’t even see the kabaa from the upper floors. The quietest time to make tawaaf is before fajr or between Asr and Maghrib.
I could probably go on with other bits and pieces but I don’t want to overburden you when you might already have some of this stuff figured out. If there are any specific things you’re wondering about, then feel free to ask inshaAllah. I found it really helpful to ask people who had been before, esp in that last two weeks of panicked prep and shopping!
My last bit of advice is to cry your heart out to Allah. Beg for His mercy and His favour upon you and pray for your final destination. I can’t do any of it justice here but it suffices to say I left my kids, family and a comfortable, blessed life behind and didn’t have any yearning to return to it. I can only pray that Allah invites me again and that my final resting place will be in His house, ameen.
I know this one message is long enough but I’ll be sending you another with my dua requests. Now that I’ve been, I don’t want to pass up the opportunity of someone making dua for me in the most blessed times and places.
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