Each year thousands of Muslims from around the globe come towards the Ka’bah for Hajj, chanting “Labbayk : Here we come, Allah, here we come”- on the call of their Lord. Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam and an obligation on Muslims once in their lifetime.
“And [due] to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House – for whoever is able to find thereto a way. But whoever disbelieves – then indeed, Allah is free from need of the worlds.” (Surah Ale-Imran, 3:97)
Last year, Alhumdulillah, I had the opportunity to perform this obligation. Below are some tips I gained during my experience that can help us maintain a spiritual high throughout the blessed journey, and also on how to safe keep the sweetness of faith achieved there, for life.
- Educate and prepare yourself:
This may be your last opportunity to perform Hajj; make all preparations for it to be the best and Mabroor (accepted)! Educate yourself beforehand about the rituals of Hajj based on the Quran and Sunnah so that you are not lost once you go there. You can do this by listening to lectures and reading books about Hajj. Also, read the account of the last pilgrimage of Prophet Muhammad . Prepare your heart for the journey and fill it with taqwa, the mindfulness of Allah .
“And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is fear of Allah.” (Surah Baqarah, 2: 197)
- Part with gadgets:
I noticed a lot of people taking selfies in mid-tawaf, smiling and gazing at their smartphones as they performed this blessed ibadah (worship), and talking uselessly during Hajj. Our gadgets, I felt, are not only destroying our social lives but also the quality of our worship. During Hajj, keep a ‘non-smart’ phone or simply switch it off during prayers and tawaf. Spend some exclusive time with Allah and part with the gadgets to achieve that flavor in worship.
- Plan your Tilawah:
Plan how much Tilawah you wish to complete during your Hajj journey, planning for each day. Also, think of some surah that you may want to memorize. Find a place facing the Ka’ bah or any niche in the two holy mosques and dive away in the book of Allah . The mesmerizing feeling one gets while reciting the Quran in the two cities where it was revealed is inexpressible! Moreover you can start doing lengthy tilawah a month before you leave, in order to make it a habit and to prepare your heart for the journey.
- Don’t let the shops distract you!
When we head towards Haram, countless stalls and shops catch our attention, at times making us unwary of the purpose of our long journey. Amidst the shopping, do not put your prayers in jeopardy. The accessories adorning the shops may be available anywhere in the world, whereas the special reward for praying in the two mosques will not be. Be wary of wasting the precious minutes of this journey.
- Spend some time alone:
Hajj and the adjoining days are mostly spent with family members or people of the group you are travelling with. Surrounded by them, we start talking and loose the concentration in worship. If it is possible, do spend some time alone. When in the Haram, you can sit at some distance from the rest to focus on the duas and recitation of Quran.
- Plan the Duas and Dhikr:
Before you set out for Hajj, make a list of duas that you want to make. Take a small notebook and make lists of duas for everyone: yourself, your family and the entire Ummah. Also note down the different duas that people ask you to make for them, along with their names. Once they are written down, you can now focus on asking without having to think each time!
- Go back in time:
While you sit in the courtyards of Ka’bah, or as you wait to go for prayers in Riyadhul Jannah, or simply as you tread the roads of the holy cities, imagine going back in time. Imagine the gatherings of Quraysh around the Ka’bah and how they harassed the Prophet . Imagine Fatimah as she removed the dirt off her father’s face. Imagine Bilal being tortured in the valleys of Makkah. Imagine the Ansar as they welcomed the Prophet . If you have enough time, do take a Seerah book to read with you or read it before you leave for Hajj. This makes us feel closer to the Prophet and his life, and allows us to appreciate what he went through.
- You are a traveler:
Many rifts and conflicts come up as you live with people coming from different backgrounds. Some may be very talkative, some may be extra neat and some may have a different sleep routine. Also, you may get food you are unaccustomed to and many a times, things will not go your way. Keep your expectations low and keep in mind that you are a traveler and all this is part of the parcel. Learn to forgive, be flexible, be easy going and tolerant. Realizing this from beforehand will spare us from a lot complaining and fighting.
- Cash on the Tahajjud time:
Waking up and going for Tahajjud in the two mosques is a lot easier compared to home. Take full advantage of this opportunity and make special preparations for it. Make long qiyam in prayers (possibly you can memorize a long surah for this purpose), pour your heart out to Allah in duas and talk to Him asking for His pleasure and forgiveness.
- Arafah is ‘The Day’:
Arafah is the virtuous day you were waiting for! It is the day that necks are freed from hellfire. Standing in Arafah is the most important ritual of Hajj. Do not waste a single minute in vain talk or sitting about lazily, doing just nothing. Spend your time making duas, weeping and begging for Allah’s mercy and forgiveness.
Prophet Muhammad said: “The best of dua is dua on the day of ‘Arafah, and the best that I and the Prophets before me said is ‘Laa ilaaha ill-Allah wahdahu la shareeka lah, lahu’l-mulk wa lahu’l-hamd wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in qadeer (There is no god but Allah alone, with no partner or associate; His is the dominion, to Him be praise, and He has power over all things).” 1
During the five days of Hajj, remember Ibrahim , with whom all the rituals of Hajj are connected. Remember how he not only laid down his own life but also sacrificed his son, his wife, his family, his community and his comfortable lifestyle for the sake of gaining Allah’s pleasure. Allah was his topmost priority. Also, during Sa’ee (going between Safa and Marwa) remember Hajar who without any hesitations surrendered to the will of Allah and put her complete trust in Him . Make a strong vow to follow their footsteps and submit to Allah willfully at every step in life.
- Set some goals for life:
As the time to leave approaches, think about the changes you would like to make in your post Hajj life. List down the characteristics/habits in your life unloved by Allah that you should eliminate. Also, list down the characteristics/habits loved by Allah that you should develop. Pray to Allah to aid you in this task. Make the decisions that you previously found difficult. For example, if there was hesitancy regarding Hijab, now is the time to overcome it. Or if you continuously miss Fajr, now is your time to make a strong resolution.
Hajj is an extensive training period for Muslims; they are required to do whatever their Lord has ordered, moving from place to place just for His sake. It prepares us to honor the call of duty throughout our lives. May Allah grant us the tawfeeq to perform an accepted and Mabroor Hajj. Ameen!
- Tirmidhi; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Targheeb (1536).