Tips and Advice for Productive Hajj

“And proclaim to mankind the Hajj (pilgrimage). They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, they will come from every deep and distant (wide) mountain highway (to perform Hajj).” [Surah Al-Hajj, 22:27]

Hajj is the Journey of a Lifetime. Yet we see so many people, brothers and sisters,  confused, angry, frustrated or just simply ignorant. So here are some points of  sincere advice for all of my brothers and sisters going for Hajj this year to  help you make it an unforgettable journey!

“That they may witness things that are of benefit to them….” [Surah Al-Hajj, 22:28]

Before You Travel

  1. Photocopy of all your official documents. Make extra copies of passports and  photos.
  2. Keep both your national currency as well as Saudi Riyals in your  wallet.
  3. Have your agent check in for all the bookings, hotels, foods, agreements  beforehand.
  4. Ensure to pay all your dues. Also, pre-pay your monthly bills so you don’t  fall behind simply because you’ll be out of the country.

 Educate Yourself and Remain with the Learned

  1. Have the right mentality, otherwise you would find it very  difficult to cope. Take one thing at a time, have the intention to please your  Lord in the best way possible, and go with an open mind.
  2. Gain complete and authentic knowledge about each and every aspect of  Hajj.
  3. Re-learn the basics of Islam: Those going for Hajj should make sure that  they are performing Wudhu and Salah and perfectly.
  4. Familiarize yourself with the Hajj plan; don’t depend on the Imam to guide  you on every little dua to recite or prayer to pray.
  5. Study the Seerah of Prophet Muhammad (peace  and blessings of Allah be upon him) and Prophet Ibrahim [as] before you  go.
  6. Read the book “Getting the Best Out Of Hajj” by Abu Muneer Ismail Davids. He guides very well along  every step – both before and during Hajj.
  7. Be careful not to be involved with shirk or incorrect practices.
  8. Remain with ‘ulema (scholars) who can explain the rituals correctly. Find a  group that organizes daily motivational reminders & guidelines on how to  practically perform the various rituals.
  9. In spite of the previous tip, know your do’s and dont’s: The crowds are  massive and time is tight, so even though you are with a group, you sometimes  need to do things on your own or take your own initiative. The groups try their  best to streamline things for the people but certain things are beyond their  control. At such times, one’s own study and knowledge comes in handy and instead  of going with the group; one can do a few things independently.
  10. Learn common Arabic vocabulary and phrases needed during Hajj so that it  eases communication. The sign-boards there are also in Arabic and it becomes  difficult to understand them.

Tips for Productive Hajj Gear

What to Wear:

  1. Wear comfortable, durable sandals or shoes.
  2. Keep in mind that you will put your slippers in a bag when you go to Masjid al-Haram. The floor of the haram is granite and may be hard on sensitive feet.  Take a pair of home slippers or anything that has some padding to ease the  hardness of the floor and pain on the feet.
  3. Keep a spare Ihram while in Mina in case it gets dirty.
  4. Place a damp hand towel under your cap; it will keep you fresh and  energized, inshaAllah!

What to Carry:

  1. Stay light. Keep your baggage to the essentials.
  2. Take empty plastic bottles with you when going to Masjid al-Haram so you can  fill up Zamzam to take back to the hotel.
  3. Keep a light backpack for essential belongings you need to carry around:  cash for the day, passport, small dua book, small Quran, packet of tissue  paper, etc.
  4. Keep a lightweight prayer mat with you. It can be placed on your head to  protect you from the heat and also shared with others whenever you have to pray  in an area without rugs. (Note: For those with weak joints or bones, carry a  padded prayer mat.)
  5. Carry a lightweight umbrella to shelter from the sun.
  6. Take a handheld fan.
  7. Take sunglasses.
  8. Pack some medical face masks.
  9. Take Vaseline to stop your legs from rubbing as there’ll be a lot of  walking.
  10. Have some basic medicines on hand for cuts and bruises (which you may  develop due to much walking.)
  11. Wet wipes are the life savior!
  12. Women, please bring a pair of scissors so that it is easy to cut your hair  at the end of Hajj.
  13. Get yourself a mini Quran (you can also carry an Amazon Kindle for easy  access to a Quran), a pocket-size Hajj guide, and a mini supplications book.  Have your mp3 well sorted with Quran/duas/lectures; the journeys are long!
  14. Keep phones which have longer battery life; you may not find place to charge  your smart phone in Arafah and Muzdalifah.

Washroom-Related Gear:

  1. There are mainly only squat/floor toilets at the Hajj sites.  Rather than causing yourself undue hardship, wasting time, and risk ending up  with unclean clothing for prayer, it is best for women to wear light cotton long  dresses (or jelabiyyas are perfect) underneath their outer garments. These can  be easily lifted for bathroom visits and will be far more comfortable.
  2. Keep elastic bands for holding your pants and sleeves up when making Wudhu  to prevent them from getting wet.
  3. Keep an emergency kit of plastic bags, small bottle (preferably squeezy,  like a plastic ketchup bottle) of water for washing oneself and Wudhu, toilet  paper, and even a small bucket or container if needed. This can be used for  emergency bathroom needs and making Wudhu rather than standing for  hours. Regardless of the number of toilet stations available, there are  long queues at all of them and sometimes it is hours between leaving Arafah and  arriving at Muzdalifah.
  4. Take (perfume-free) liquid soap rather than a bar which becomes difficult to  re-package once wet.

Tips for Spiritual Productivity

Duas:

  1. Learn relevant duas to be recited when doing Hajj.
  2. Do not just read from books but do dua from heart.
  3. Have a dua diary: keep a notebook or a diary with all the names of the  people and their duas which they would like you to make for them. It is also a  great idea to pen down one’s own duas in the notebook. Start before you leave  and write down your dua list for Arafat.
  4. Plan ahead the conversation you will be having with your Lord! You will be  prepared to converse and spill out what is in your heart to your Lord and  weep to your heart’s content.
  5. Pray for the people that are working during Hajj for your safety: police,  doctors, cleaners and guides. Make dua for the oppressed, including Muslims in  Syria, Palestine, and Burma.

Focus:

  1. Stay unplugged! Only keep a cell for emergency use, but stay AS  FAR AWAY from your life back home as you can; no email, no phone. Immerse  yourself in the experience so that you can focus solely on your purpose: to do  this act for the sake of Allah alone. You are among the select few whom Allah  chose to visit His masjid.
  2. Do not get too distracted with all the shopping there as it is easy to do so  and concentrate on the real reason you are there.
  3. Dear Hajji, don’t worry about your money, children, spouse, parents,  brothers & sisters because you will be away. Just forget everything and do  your Hajj faithfully and sincerely and Allah surely will keep them all safe.  Feel your Hajj as it’s the first and last Hajj you will be able to do in your  life because, generally, it’s not too easy to go to Hajj again.
  4. Simply submit yourself to Allah as the journey begins. That switch must be  flipped instantly! That is the only way the physical challenges become  unimportant and one can accept every challenge as food for the soul. Otherwise  the entire journey is likely to be spent in fretting over meaningless daily  hassles that can spoil such a great opportunity!
  5. Take Hajj as a journey. So travel light (open-minded and clean heart) and  stay focused on your destination.
  6. Make talbiyah (reciting labbayk) throughout and keep in mind your purpose  here: you are working for the Akhirah.
  7. Refrain from all and every kind of ‘bad talk’ (anger, hurtful words,  slander, lies, etc.) from the moment that you have the intent to go on Hajj,  from the days leading up to it till the day you leave, and every single day  thereafter during Hajj.
  8. Because of the long periods of time without bathroom access and on buses,  eat less. Nothing is more distracting to ‘ibaadah and prayer than urgency to go  to the bathroom. So minimize your eating; it’s the Sunnah!
  9. Say bismillah whenever you begin to do something and  always make dua.

Time:

  1. Use the time in the mosque to complete the recitation and the  meaning of the Quran.
  2. Carry an mp3 player/Islamic books/Kindle with you. You get lots of time to  spare during the three Mina nights. Don’t waste time in idle talks. You may be  too tired to read or do other ‘ibaadah; best option is to listen to something  that will help your Emaan.
  3. Ensure you maximize your time productively as much as you can in Arafat. If  possible, try to get a space on a hill and keep to yourself in prayers as much  as you can.
  4. Don’t waste time collecting pebbles in Arafah because it’s the most  important day of the Hajj. Pebbles can be collected after reaching  Muzdalifah.
  5. Take cereal bars and breakfast biscuits. Don’t bother with the fast food  outlets in the malls. You will waste your time queuing and lose precious time  you could use for ‘ibaadah.
  6. Don’t sleep between Ishraq and Zawaal. Make use of the time to pray  Salat-ud-Dhuhr.

Patience:

  1. Take one bag of provisions and 10 bags of PATIENCE!
  2. Hajj is a test: not so much a physical one, but a test of patience, Taqwa,  and Emaan. From the time you make the intention to perform it, different aspects  of the test will arise. Learn and use these two phrases when anything testing  comes up: “Al hamdul’Illah ‘ala kully haal” (all praises to Allah in every  situation) and “Qadr Allahi wa maa shaa fa’al” (it is Allah’s Qadr and He does  as He wills).
  3. Remind yourself this is a once in a lifetime opportunity so try to make the  most of it. For example, you may be stuck in unforeseen situations like waiting  for a bus for three hours, so try to do dua and dhikr rather than becoming  irritable and frustrated. Keep your emotions in check and hearts clean, not only  for yourself but for those around you for a smooth and memorable journey,  inshaAllah.
  4. Ask Allah to give you strength, sabr, and ease throughout the entire  journey, not just the five days of Hajj!
  5. Have tawakkul in Allah. Any time you face a hardship during you travels or  throughout the journey (like if you get lost, or left behind, or weak and sick),  don’t panic! Breath, renew your intention and know that Allah will get you  through!
  6. Make sure to leave your ego or temper at home before you travel to Hajj.  Since there are always thousands of people wherever you go, there will be many  incidents that may provoke you. Do not let any of those things get to you or  else your Hajj will turn from spirituality and productivity into simply watching  who or what next is going to provoke you and your rising temper will blind you  from enjoying and living Hajj.

Purification & Reflection:

  1. Prepare your heart before you leave for Hajj. There is nothing  worse than a hard heart!
  2. Exercise humility. Just because you are on a VIP package doesn’t make you  VIP.  Hajj means we are all the same – equal.  Treat everyone with  respect; we are all brothers and sisters.
  3. Make istighfaar and reflect on how weak you are, how insignificant you are,  and how supreme Allah’s mercy is.
  4. If you have nothing good to say, then don’t say it. Here’s what really  helped me: Just don’t say anything that is not required.
  5. Take a journal along and keep a record of your Hajj trip, experiences, new  friends, duas, resolutions, etc.

Goals:

  1. Set your own spiritual targets, i.e., daily Quran recitation,  Tafseer, Qiyam, etc.
  2. Plan ahead; except for the five daily prayers, what will be the other extra  ‘ibaadat you can do in Hajj?
  3. While at Hajj, define your purpose in life. Set goals and a direction. You  will have enough time to think.

Tips for Physical Productivity

Fitness:

  1. Be as fit as possible before you go. You will often find  yourselves without transport for long stretches at a time, and it’s useful to  get in a habit of walking a few months before you leave. You’ll find yourself  less tired that way and have more energy for ‘ibaadah.

Nutrition:

  1. Drink lots of water.
  2. Keep some healthy snacks because one can end up waiting several hours at the  airport.
  3. Eat food that is nourishing and revitalizing. Take energy-filled granola  bars with you on your trip. Always keep dates with you; best source of energy  and nutrition.
  4. Do not waste food. Eat what will keep your back straight and do not  over-indulge.
  5. Carry medicines and multi-vitamins in case someone falls ill.

Sleep:

  1. Get good sleep right from the beginning to keep your energy level  up till the end.
  2. Get used to sleeping early and waking up early for night prayers a few  months before Hajj.

Tips for Social Productivity

  1. Sympathize with fellow Hajjis. Never say no to (help) a fellow  Hajji, and never criticize them for things they do.
  2. Put the next person above yourself. Put their rights before yours. Your  Creator won’t ask what the next person did to you, but He will ask you what you  did for the next person.
  3. Decide to do at least four new good deeds daily that you didn’t used to do,  e.g., help the needy, buy someone a meal, distribute glasses/bottles of Zamzam  to others, support an elder when doing Tawaaf, smile, forgive the one that  hurts/angers you, etc.
  4. Keep small change nearby so that you can give to the poor and get reward  from Allah (glorified and exalted be  He).
  5. Bring small inexpensive gifts from your hometown to be given to new friends  you meet in the mosque, or the needy. For example, bring extra medicine like  medicated oil in small packages, small du’a books, or little pouch bags and give  to the person next to you in Salah. That’s a great ice breaker and Sadaqah  too.
  6. Distribute little books of adhkar or audio CDs of Islamic talks. You might  find people from Africa where it’s hard for them to get access such  information.
  7. Arrange a bag of candies for kids you may meet. Take some money to gift it  to kids at Eid time.
  8. If you are given money by relatives and friends as a token prior to the Hajj  trip, donate the money in Makkah/Madinah to the needy instead of buying gifts for  them. This way, both you and your relatives will get the reward of Sadaqah.
  9. Try to greet Muslim brothers/sisters from other countries as much as you  can. Hajj is the largest meeting for the Ummah.
  10. When it is time to collect stones at Muzdalifah, try to collect extra. There  are many you’d come across who would need them. Also some of the elders need  help with collecting stones as well.

Be Organized

In Masjid al-Haram:

  1. If you see a lot of people making rows for prayer outside the  masjid, do go further and try to get inside as there would normally still be  space inside. Some Hajjis like to pray outside.
  2. When going for Salah, make sure to go a minimum of 1.5 hour before Salah  time in order to secure your spot for prayer.
  3. Get to Jum’uah prayer early – around 8 – 9 a.m.
  4. There are Zamzam reserves everywhere; no need to fight for the Zamzam  straight after Tawaaf. Look around for others.
  5. The Sa’ee has several floors; it may be best to perform it in the basement  where it’s usually empty and cool.

In Mina, Arafah, and Muzdalifah:

  1. Avoid the rush and save your time by scheduling bathroom trips in  Makkah, Mina, Arafah, and Muzdalifah between 1.5 to 2 hours before the prayer.   These are the quietest times and you will be in and out in no time.
  2. When you reach Mina and settle down, just take a few friends with you out of  the tent and get familiarized with the high rise/popular landmarks around and  try to reach your tent from those points.
  3. Leave early morning towards Arafah on the day of Arafah; better walk than  take a bus.
  4. Don’t leave Arafah before Maghrib adhan. After the adhan, leave Arafah and  offer Salah of Maghrib and Isha in Muzdalifah.
  5. Don’t rush for collecting ‘pelting stones’ in Arafah; there are many in  Muzdalifah.
  6. Jamarah (pelting stones) after Dhuhr is optimum as it’s not crowded.
  7. Do not go alone; always be in pairs or a small group.
  8. Avoid the ground floor in Jamarah; it’s very crowded and stampedes can  occur.
  9. Choose who you are going to do your Hajj sacrifice with and then just be  done with it.

In Group Situations:

  1. Stick together as a group. Make  sure you have a fixed meeting place which everyone knows in case someone gets  lost.
  2. Do not wait for the group for all your  activities. There is a very fine balance between being a team player and keeping  the spirit of the “jama’ah”, and between wasting your time waiting for people to  do things so you can take action.  One is often caught in a situation where  some people want to go left and others want to go right, and both directions are  right. You must proactively have a set plan and mechanism of how to decide  rather than putting yourself in risk of unplanned choice under pressure.
  3. Make a list of activities which must be shared  with the group (e.g., moving in planes, cars, & buses) and a list of  activities which must be done alone (e.g., night prayers, reading Quran, etc.),  and always be ready to take a corner once you feel the group is wasting your  very precious time of alone activities.
  4. Be clean, tidy, don’t litter, and reflect the  true image of Islam. This is crucial given the issue of littering and terrible  hygiene is faced every single year.
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