In this life people are usually aware of two kinds of journeys; those made to earn a livelihood and those undertaken for pleasure and sightseeing. The Hajj however is unique from these journeys since it is made solely for the purpose of pleasing Allah the Exalted. For over 1400 years, Muslims from around the world– men and women of all races, ethnicities and backgrounds, have been traveling to the Holy city of Makkah. This is, indeed, a once in a lifetime experience which is truly unforgettable if you prepare for it the right way.
Hajj is a trip of lifetime; it is only required once from a Muslim and it is only the first one that counts as the fulfillment of the obligation. All other performances of Hajj are voluntary and cannot replace the compulsory Hajj. Therefore, it is imperative that it is performed sincerely and correctly for the first time.
Though Hajj can be quiet a demanding journey, a little preparation and planning will In sha’Allah make your journey much easier. This planning should not be limited to the logistics but should also include spiritual, financial, physical and mental preparations. Following are a few points to help you prepare for the Hajj trip.
1. Purify your creed (Aqeedah) from all aspects of Shirk major or minor. No deed is accepted to Allah however noble it is without such purification: ‘If you associate (with Allah) your deeds will be ruined and verily you will be among the losers.’ (Qur’an 39: 65)
2. Devote your Hajj purely and sincerely for Allah. This is a spiritual preparation; the acceptance and reward of your Hajj largely depends on your intention and piety.
3. Acquire thorough knowledge about the rites of Hajj and Umrah from start to finish because knowledge differentiates right from wrong. Haj education can be sought through various means — reading books which explain in detail the subject computer programs which precisely demonstrate the rituals of Hajj using the multimedia format attending regular Hajj classes offered by Islamic centers in your area.
4. Use Halal means to support your journey. ‘Allah is pure and He does not accept but pure only.’ (Saheeh Muslim). Take everything you will require (do not depend on others or ask them to fulfill your needs). Make sure you have enough money to suffice yourself during the journey and secure the needs of your family members whom you may leave behind. Nowadays, people try their best to take along all things of comfort for Hajj. They take all kinds of precautions but the best precaution is piety, fear of Allah and righteousness. Allah says: ‘Take a provision (with you) for the journey but the best provision is At-Taqwa (piety). So fear Me O men of understanding!’ (2:197)
5. At the end of this verse Allah orders us to be righteous and fear Him. This is for two major reasons one because the Haji needs piety before going to Hajj. He should remind himself to fear Allah because he will face many difficulties and hardships which he should accept and endure in order to please His Lord. The second reason is that Hajj itself is a means to achieve Taqwa the Haji increases in faith by obeying Allah and his Messenger (peace be upon him) all throughout his Hajj.
6. The intense exertion coupled with harsh desert climate of Makkah can take serious toll on your body. Therefore, be sure to carry along vaccines and drugs. Avoid all unnecessary hardships and take adequate precautions to avoid problems.
7. The journey of Hajj involves a great deal of physical activities and thus you must be fully prepared to face this physical challenge. The experts recommend that people who intend to perform Hajj must initiate a walking routine one or two months prior to the journey. This will increase physical stamina and help the Haji to keep up with the long walks and long standings. Indeed Hajj involves a lot of labor and struggle but the reward for this great act is also great in amount.
8. Also from the preparations of Haj is the mental preparations. Know that the Haji (pilgrim) is bound to experience intense heat pushing standing in long lines uncomfortable lodging etc. due to the large crowd of people trying to accommodate in a particularly small area.
9. Relieve yourself from any injustice which you may have inflicted upon others. Fulfill any obligation which you owe to other before the journey. Prepare a Waseeyah (Will) before you depart and make peace with those with whom you have a dispute pay your debts and advise your family not to be extravagant Allah says: ‘ and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance’ (7: 31)
10. Accompany the knowledgeable and righteous Muslims and stay away from the innovators. Keep away from all prohibited acts men should not shave their beard for the Hajj and it is prohibited for them to wear gold.
11. Safeguard your tongue from all vain talk backbiting arguing and complaining. This is against the morals of Islam in general and especially against the rules of Haj. Such talks and actions will make one’s Hajj incomplete and reduce the reward. Hajj is a long journey and one is likely to behave immorally therefore on guard and control yourself from any misconduct: ‘So during Haj there should not be obscenity nor wickedness nor wrangling.’ (Qur’an 2:197) Remember Shaytaan is at his best to cause mischief!