Here are some unique but practical tips to help the first timers to prepare for Hajj from now itself i.e. five weeks prior to your departure for Hajj. These tips will Insha’Allah help you during your stay in Makkah and Madeenah and to also help you perform Hajj:
1. Hajj is strenuous and requires physical fitness and stamina. Please make yourself physically fit and build your stamina. Do start taking brisk walks for 30 minutes each day (if you do not do so). This should be brisk walking and not mere idle walking. This will help you ensure that when you perform saheeh and tawaaf, you do not get breathless and do not find it strenuous. Go on a diet: reduce your weight and your appetite: reduce your appetite of all types and for all things.
2. Please take good reliable glares / sunglasses which provide U.V. protection. This is a must and not a beauty or a fashion tip.
3. Please exercise restraint in your eating habits and your diet, not only during your trip in Saudi, but at all times from now on. Eat less so that you do not feel drowsy and are able to concentrate on Ibaadah. You are not going to Makkah and Madeenah to feast or for feasting. Your tour operators may pamper you with a lot of rich, greasy and heavy food with lots of non-veg. thrown in. Be careful and vigilant. Because the last thing that you will want during your days and nights in Makkah and Madeenah is a bad tummy, loose motions and a stomach infection. Medicines are expensive out there. Take some enzyme tablets (Unizyme) and some pre-biotic and pro-biotic capsules (Nutrolin-B plus or Bifilac or Darolac) with you. Also take other medicines with you that you would normally take for a long business trip or a long vacation. For e.g. antacids, paracetamol, ciprofloxacin, flagyll, anti-allergy pills, domstal, otrivin nasal drops, et al.
4. Take tetanus shots before departure.
5. Hunt out and buy perfume-free soaps right now. It’s an ordeal doing a last minute rush job of hunting and packing.
6. Please ... please stay away from emails, the internet, your blackberry, etc. during your stay in Saudi. The least that you can and should do is to refrain from emails and internet and your notebooks/ netbooks three days before the actual days of Hajj and for five days after Hajj: this will help you get immersed in the spirit of ibaadah and you will get soaked in properly. Else, this will be such a distraction that you may not benefit at all from your visit and may return without much positive changes in you.
7. Please take the best sun screen cream along with you. We recommend Ranbaxy’s Suncros Aquagel which has an SPF of 26(available in India). This too is a must and not a beauty or a fashion tip.
8. Do take Vaseline or Pond’s cold cream or some moisturising creams with you since the climate in Madeenah is very, very dry throughout the year.
9. Some well to do pilgrims take leather-cushioned slip-ons for their feet to wear while performing tawaaf and sahee.
10. For Gents: take a thin white muslin cloth to wear over your bald/freshly shaved head: for a cap will not suffice: during times of Zuhr and Asr Salaah when you step out in the sun, this cloth will protect your neck, forehead, your newly shaved head and your cheeks from the heat and the scorching sun ... as well as from the sun and its reflection from the white marble around you. Drape this thin muslin cloth over your face and head like the Arabs do. You will Insha’Allah thank us for this tip and you will also begin appreciating the head gear of the Arabs which is best for their climate.
11. Practise wearing and moving around in Ihraam now at your residence so that you are comfortable and at ease when Ihraam is to be worn for performing Hajj and Umrah. If you have to wear Ihraam before boarding the flight, please wear a half-sleeve shirt instead of the Ihraam top; and half-an-hour before reaching the Meekaat point, remove your shirt and put on your ihram top and make your niyyat for Umraah/Hajj. This is a very creative idea that helps you be at ease at the airport and also during the flight.
12. For those ladies who have yet not begun adhering to hijaab norms by wearing the abaaya and scarves: you will land up doing so when you reach Saudi. So why not make a firm resolve to begin now itself. It will help you acclimatize yourself to wearing and moving around in hijaab. Moreover make a resolve to continue wearing the hijaab Insha’Allah even after your return from Hajj.
13. Take a few extra pairs of slippers with you and lots of thin plastic bags to carry the pair that you wear for salaah at the haramain (sacred masjids / masaajid / mosques). At times, slippers do get misplaced or mistakenly picked up by others. Having a few extra pairs will be helpful and save you precious time and money in buying new ones locally. Be generous in doling out these slippers if your co-pilgrims lose their pairs.
14. Reinforce your consistent practice of Islam and its teachings like never before: this applies to salaah, duas, astaghfaar as well as good conduct, akhlaq, manners and generosity. Why?
Because you cannot suddenly morph yourself or transform yourself overnight from one level of practise of Islam to a much higher degree merely on landing in Saudi Arabia. So for Allah’s sake, be more Allah-conscious at all times from now on like you have never been before.
This means that at all times you shall say Bismillah before commencing anything; you will say Alhamdulillah more often and when ever required; you will perform all Salaah at their appointed times with Jamaah; and that you will do more of dua’as and astaghfaar. And you will stay away from vain/idle talk, gheebath and all obscene/profane/non-veg. conversations and jokes.
Please watch Yasir Qadhi – How Do You Speak To Your Lord?
Watch Yasir Qadhi – Repentance
The State of Repentance Imam Ibn ul Qayyim al Jawziyyah
Al-Istighfaar (Seeking Forgiveness) - Majmoo Al Fatawa - by Shaikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah
15. Start offering Tahajjud prayers more often now so that you develop the practise and spirit and that you “hit the ground running” when you are there.
Watch Khalil Moore – The Importance of and the Secrets to be Found in the Night Prayer
16. Please recite the Glorious Qur’an on a daily basis from now on so that by the time you take your flight for Hajj, your fluency in recitation is such that you can easily and accurately recite at least one to two Juzz every day when you are in Saudi. Realize that when you are on a journey for Hajj, you have the entire day and night to yourself away from worldly affairs and distractions and you have so much time on hand. This time has to be invested and spent well in offering salaah, reciting the Glorious Qur’an, reading Tafaseer and Islamic Books.
17. Take your personal copy of the Glorious Qur’an with you because you will be more comfortable with the Arabic font and style of your local copy, than of those that may be accessible to you there.
18. Pick a good authentic book on Salaah – this book should also have the English translation of what all is recited in Salaah. Memorise and internalize the translation. This will help you perform Salaah in the spirit in which it has to be performed: with sincerity, devotion, concentration and understanding. PROPHET MOHAMMAD'S (SAW) MANNER OF PERFORMING PRAYERS: By SHEIKH ABDUL AZIZ IBN ABDULLAH IBN BAZ
19. Read Yassir Qadhi’s book and listen to his talks on the “Power of Dua and the Prescribed Manner of Dua”; similarly for the theme and topic of repentance.
Watch Yasir Qadhi – Dua: Weapon of the Believer
Watch Yasir Qadhi – Dua
(Hisn Almuslim) Fortress of the Muslim, Invocations from the Quran and Sunnah
Waleed Basyouni – Dua: The Essence of Worship
20. Please read and memorize the contents of Salaatul-Janaazah: for out there in the haramain, after each Farz Salaah of all five times, you will invariably find yourself offering Salaatul-Janaazah in congregation. Do not miss these and their sawaab.
Description of the Funeral Prayer - Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz
21. Please right now read a good authentic book on Hajj and Umrah
Rites of Hajj and Umrah from the Book and Sunnah and Narrations from the Pious Predecessors: Manaasik-ul-Hajj wal 'Umrah fil Kitaab wa Sunnah wa Athar as-Salaf - Shaikh Muhammad Naasir-ud-Deen Al-Albaani
Innovations of Hajj, 'Umrah and Visiting Madinah By Shaikh Muhammad Naasir-ud-Deen Al-Albaani
22. Do not purchase dates and ittar from there. You get the same or better quality in Mumbai at much better rates: remember that we are now in a global village. The rentals and labour costs in India are far less and cheaper than those near the haramain especially during season time and hence it’s cheaper to purchase here locally in Mumbai. And why do you wish to spend time out there hunting the best quality and best deals on dates and ittar? Better spend time there for the purpose that you have gone there.
23. Yes, what you should purchase out there are the vacuum-packed miswaak of natural flavour as well as mint, menthol and lime flavours. Take these from Madeenah near or outside the Prophet’s Mosque. The best brand is “Sewak Al-Falaah” of Al-Falah Impex. These are imported by Saudi from Pakistan. For some unknown reasons these popular vacuum packed miswaak have yet not hit the local stores in India.
24. And get with you on your return journey lots of ZamZam waterwhich is not available or sourced anywhere else in the world!
25. While in Madeenah, do purchase DVDs/CDs of recitation of the Glorious Qur’an by several reputed Shaikhs and Imaams. These are available for ten Saudi Riyals each from the shop of “Charitable Society of Memorising Noble Qur’an Madeenah Munawwara Region”. This stand-alone circular shop is at the Makkah end of the Prophet’s Mosque in Madeenah, facing the Baqee. In the meantime, right now visit:
26. When in Saudi, do purchase and try the Almarai Milk, Cheese, Laban and the Almarai Bottled Camel Milk.
27. Most Importantly: Hajj requires emotional maturity and emotional strength and stamina: you will observe and realize that Allah swt will test you at every moment during your hajj: you will need to be very, very patient, tolerant and magnanimous/generous with everything big and small. Long queues, huge/massive crowds, long waiting periods and stretches, needy pilgrims, elderly pilgrims, and much, much more. It has been a fallacy and misguidance on the part of the community in this part of the subcontinent to perform Hajj at the end of one's age (whatever that means, as if they can predict that they will die at a ripe age): you can perform Hajj at an old age with great difficulty and without much concentration on ibaadah: the spirit of Hajj should rejuvenate one so that the rest of one's life one spends as a true Muslim.
May Allah Bless your journey and Help you complete Hajj in its true spirit and sense and may He accept your Hajj. Aameen.
Thanks and JazakAllahu Khairan to the QSEP team (http://www.qsep.com) for providing many of the links of books / reading material that have been mentioned in this write-up.
October 07, 2010
Other Useful and Relevant Reading and Reference Matter:
How to Acquire Good Manners - Shaikh Muhammad bin Saalih Al-‘Uthaimeen
Obstacles that Prevent One from Making Repentance - By Shaikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah
Questions and Answers on the Sutrah - Shaikh Ibn Uthaymeen
The Prostration of Forgetfulness - Shaikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-Uthaimeen
The Abridgement of the Prophet's (saws) Prayer Decsribed - Al-Albanee
"Ibn Taymiyyah Expounds on Islam" - A book of various fataawaa on Islamic faith, life and society.
The Islamic Awakening - ibn Uthaymeen