Hajj has always been referred to as the trip of a life time. I always wondered why this trip to a barren land was so spectacular and such a life altering journey. Alhamdulillaah, I now know.
By the grace of Allah Almighty, I was able to visit the holy cities, Makkah and Madeenah during 2006 – 2007 with my beloved wife and was able to perform Hajj.
It is a journey which I will remember for the rest of my life. I also hope that I will have opportunities to go back and visit the holy sites again.
Please don’t waste the opportunity to perform an obligation, one of the pillars of Islam. Remember Hajj removes all past sins and it is from the best of deeds. It is in the best days of the year, in the best place and time. Hajj increases wealth and not to do Hajj while being able to is a sign of miserliness. So make the decision to go and do the best you can to make it a successful Hajj.
Below is some general advice that may help my dear brothers and sisters in preparing to perform Hajj:
1. Start planning early, start planning early and start planning early. Can’t stress how important this is. A good trip requires early planning, at least four months before the departure.
2. Pilgrims need to understand that they are going to perform an obligatory worship, but will do so in an overall Islamic character. Don’t perform a voluntary act and destroy an obligation in the process. You will experience this first hand at Hajj.
I also hope that Muslim governments and religious organizations will install programs to provide education and training necessary for the intending pilgrims before they leave their home countries.
3. The intending pilgrims need to understand the kind of physical hardships they may go through and mentally prepare themselves to accept such difficulties.
4. Start learning early about the rituals of Hajj.
5. A Hajj guide will help acquaint you with the Hajj places, sites and rituals. Start memorizing some of the supplications in Arabic and understand their meanings.
6. Make contacts with travel agents and other groups for Hajj travel. Obtain the required injections, cholera and meningitis, from your doctor. A health certificate with these injections is needed for a Hajj visa. Make sure you have a valid passport. Your group should be able to provide you with more information.
7. Remember to budget for your Hajj trip. You will also need spending money, how much depends on how much you would like to spend.
8. Your Luggage and Carry on should be kept to a minimum. I only took one Abaya (Men’s Islamic Dress) with me. I took several pieces of underwear, socks and shirts. I had one medium-size suitcase and a carry-on. If you plan to purchase a lot of items, buy an extra suitcase there. The prices are good. I first went to Madeenah, so I purchased my Ihraam and Money Belt from Madeenah. If your waist is a little larger than it should be, consider purchasing a money belt from your homeland to save time looking for one in Saudi.
9. Suggested Books – Quran, Hajj Guides, Du’aa' Books and general Islamic books that uplift you.
10. Learn how to pray Janaazah (funeral) prayer as there is always a funeral procession after the obligatory prayers in both Madeenah and Makkah. On my trip, there was only one time that there wasn’t a Janaazah prayer after prayer.
11. Get a hold of a small Fortification Du’aa' Book sold in most bookstores and start memorizing all the relevant Du’aa's for your trip. You should know the Du’aa' for when you travel, when you enter and leave the mosque, etc.