With the start of Zi’quad, it is now time for caravans to head towards the holy cities of Makkah and Medina to perform Hajj. How lucky are those who get the chance to carry out this pilgrimage and become a guest of Allah (swt) at his home subhan Allah; this indeed is a journey of lifetime. A tour which you start as a different person and come back as a whole new soul from.
I have been lucky enough to go on this trip too (alhamdulillah) exactly 2 years ago in 2015. I strongly believe that NO ONE can visit the Ka’aba without Allah’s will no matter how rich or religious you are. I am glad that Allah (swt) invited us (I and HI) then, want to go there again and again ALWAYS.
I have been planning this post from quite a few days but due to my haphazard-vagabond-kinda-life, I was unable to transform my thoughts into words. But today I knew it’s NOW or NEXT YEAR. So here I am with memories of the most beautiful journey of my life.
But wait, this article is not about what we did during our times (unlike my usual travel posts) rather it is formulated with the intention to serve as a guide for the pilgrims. I will try to remember and include all the necessary information from my experience for the ones who are going on this privileged trip this year and ahead.
- Research & Finalize the Tour Operator Company
This is the first and one crucial step if you are not going through government scheme. Try to gather all the relevant information about multiple tour operators from different people and platforms. The best will obviously be the most expensive but with luck you may be able to find the ones which don’t charge hefty amount and still provide better facilities than many others. Most important things to consider while finalizing the company are:
- The distance of Haram from your accommodation
- Maktab number in Mina
- Prepare For the Big Trip
After emerging successful from the first step the next thing you will need to focus on is ‘How to prepare yourself for this sacred trip?’
Almost all tour operators offer Hajj classes/ workshops for their pilgrims and that is one best way to learn and prepare yourself. Also, you get to meet your soon-to-be group mates in such gatherings.
But for people living abroad (I fell in this category) or the ones who are not able to attend the classes for any reason, there are many useful books which you can read and educate yourselves on the topic. Discuss it with the ones you are going or with the ones who already have performed Hajj.
Believe me, there is no science behind the whole process. Try to learn small duas with their meanings or you can always pray and ask for blessings in your own language. Almighty Allah knows the intention behind every spoken and unspoken word – that should be pure!P.S. I’d suggest the mothers to leave your small babies/toddlers/children behind with their grandparents or someone who can take care of them because that is the best thing you can do to you and your children as well (Talking from personal experience: I was sceptical about leaving behind E for 4 weeks but I was glad I did).
- Packing Your Luggage
We are down to another important part of the activity. Most people carry loads of stuff and trunk full of new dresses in their luggage which is useless to be honest. As of now the days of Hajj are falling in extreme hot days I’d suggest you take along the dresses you are comfortable in, the ones that you usually wear at home.
Women will be wearing their abayas 99% of the time hence no point in wearing new/uncomfortable clothing beneath it. Take one or two nice dresses apart from those to wear on Eid or for the day you want to look good ;). Men usually don’t worry about their clothing I believe so I’d say just take the trousers/ suits you love the most.
Always carry an umbrella with you in your bag pack and sun block (which you should be applying generously before going out for prayers every time when you are not going for Umrah or Hajj).
Don’t forget to include an extra pair of flip flops too.
The list of all other items to carry and not to carry is provided by the tour companies so have a look at that too 🙂
- Start the Journey – Labbaik Allahuma Labbaik
Take lots of rest a day before your flight and recharge your energy level to 100% because If you are going to Makkah then you will be required to gear up in ihram and perform Umrah. Also, you will be anxious to visit Ka’aba and carry out the Umrah activities as soon as you arrive at destination. But the whole process of flight and endless waiting hours at Jeddah airport will wear you out so REST as much as you can.
In case you are landing in Medina than you probably won’t need that much energy but still rest before the journey starts because once you are there, rest will be the last thing on your mind.
- Go on Ziarats
Try to take out a day and visit all the holy places where Our Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and his companions used to go and carry out different tasks on daily basis. You will feel the immense love Our Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) had for all of us and the hardships he faced to strengthen the roots of Islam and Muslims that time.
Visiting Masjid-e-Jinn gave me goosebumps and the steep rocky mountain of Ghaar-e-Saur which Hazrat Abu Bakr climbed with Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) to seek refuge from the people of Qureish left me in awe, subhan Allah. Don’t forget to climb Jabal-e-Noor too, if you can 🙂
Offering 2 rakats nafil in Masjid-e-Qiblatain, Medina is equal to offering Umrah. Subhan Allah (small acts with big treats).
- Best times to visit Haram (Makkah & Medina)
If you are fortunate enough to reside near Haram, your best bet is to visit the place at night times. That is the time when Haram is least crowded; only in the first few days though, the crowd then starts growing gradually but you can get a space inside Hateem and men can get a chance to touch Hajr-e-Aswad in those times. It is also the best time to perform Umrah If you want.
In Medina, the doors to Riyaz-ul-Jannah open at fixed times during the day and for that too night time is the best slot to say Salam and offer nafils there.
As the Hajj days come closer the nights also start observing thousands of pilgrims and it becomes jam packed just before a few days of Hajj. Been there seen that!
- How to Behave Inside Haram
- Give way and make space for others. Don’t block spaces please
- Don’t make groups and gossip inside. Also, try not to eat anything in there.
- Keep small gifts (dates/ tasbeeh/ chocolates/ toffees) handy and distribute them over to random people you like.
- Avoid picking up a fight or indulging in an argument with fellow worshippers (I have seen people fighting over petty issues in front of Holy Ka’aba, felt so bad)
- Don’t try to enforce your way of prayer on everyone else. And let go if someone wants to teach their style of namaz to you. Change your place as soon as you can if someone is irritating you.
- Try to ignore if you don’t like anybody’s attitude, you are not there to make friends. Remember your sole purpose of being there.
- Keep your belongings safe inside a hidden pocket in your abaya/ shirt and always keep a check on those.
- Listen to security peeps, they are there to help you.
- Pass on a smile to everyone.
- The 5 days of Hajj
These are the MAIN days you must be looking forward to. Keep in mind that they are going to be difficult and you need to be very VERY patient with everyone and everything during these days. You should be prepared for all the hardships the moment you wear your Ihram for Hajj and step on your ride towards Mina.
- What to keep:
- a scent-free soap
- a scent-free vaseline (lotion or jelly)
- praying mat
- water bottle
- some snacks
- an extra dress
- copy of Quran/ prayer and dua books
- your medicines (if any)
- Days in Mina: It is not a place where you are going to get comfy beds and air conditioned rooms. You can try to reserve your place/bed in front of the fan outlet so that it becomes a little easier to sleep.
Pray as much as you can and avoid gossiping.
- The Day of Arafat: Make lots of dua and pray hard!
- The Night in Muzdalifah: If you can walk then it is the best way to travel that night i.e. On foot. Keep walking towards the boundary of Muzdalifah, offer prayers in between and resume walking. Camp somewhere nearby the boundary and get some sleep. Offer Fajr prayers and leave directly for Rami without any delay.
- Rami (first day): Try not to stop by at Mina camp that way you will be able to avoid the major rush. Travel towards your accommodation (which will be in Aziziya most likely) and rest there until qurbani from your side is done. Get freshen up afterwards and then join the Mina camp at night.
- The Remaining Days and Rami: The difficult part is done. Stay 1 (or 2) more night(s) at Mina and try to perform your Tawaf-e-Wida and Tawaf-e-Ziarat (if you are leaving right after Hajj) during the days.
- What to keep:
- Shopping & Dining
These two are the most important parts of any tour, no? Among all other shopping stuff, the must-buy things are Dates from Medina. Also, collect Aab-e-Zam Zam in different small bottles at your last visit to Ka’aba. Tape the bottles’ caps carefully and keep them in your luggage to take more zam zam back home. You can buy plastic bags to carry water from Bin Dawood as well, those bags are a good option indeed.
For Dining purposes; one and only recommendation is Al-Baik. Also, keep Mandi in your try-list too.
- Final Test of Patience – Flight back home
This is the last and most difficult level, store in lots of patience and avoid indulging in any brawl with fellow Muslims because this is the time where you are most likely to get angry at many steps. Try to remain calm and keep reciting duas inside to avoid any mishap.
This was one loooooong post I know, you can bookmark it for later read. I have tried my best to cover all the aspects one needs to know to prepare for this big trip. Post your questions in the comments section below in case you need to know anything more about the topic. Also, do remember me and my family in your prayers. May Allah accept all your ibadats. Aamin