Now that you know the types of Hajj, we will now take you through the rites and rituals of the Hajj pilgrimage. As you are aware that in Hajj al-Tamattu and Hajj al-Qiran the pilgrim has to perform Umrah and Hajj together while Hajj al-Ifrad is performed without Umrah, hence we will elaborate on the rites performed during Hajj al-Tamattu which combines Umrah and Hajj and this form of Hajj is what the Prophet Mohammed (P.B.U.H.) encouraged his followers to perform.
The Umrah that precedes the Hajj and its rites are covered in part II of this very course so we will cover in this part the rites of Hajj and the agent partner will gain knowledge of Umrah and its rites as they proceed to part II after going through this part.
Hajj being the once in a lifetime journey for Muslims, requires a substantial preparation spiritually, mentally, physically and financially. Here we will cover these essential aspects which an intending pilgrim needs to consider and prepare for before setting out on this sacred journey.
a) Preparing Oneself Spiritually
Purifying oneself from all Shirk(the sin of idolatry or polytheism, i.e. the deification or worship of anyone or anything besides Allah). Reading about and understanding the inner dimensions of Hajj to get in the proper spiritual frame of mind. Understanding the perspective and meaning of Hajj rites, as it is not just a physical journey but an intense act of worship that has a spiritual significance. A very important part of preparation is self-evaluation before leaving for Hajj in terms of one’s weaknesses and flaws besides the issues of non-observance of prayers, not fasting during Ramadan and missing out on giving Zakat must be rectified. Doing Taubah (repentance) for the sins committed and realizing the weaknesses in self with the firm intent of discontinuing and fighting it. During Hajj, the pilgrim will see millions of fellow pilgrims unite from all corners of the world for one purpose alone: to fulfil the obligation of Hajj and surrender their selves before the creator or how truly amazing is the realization of the call to prayers which transforms the chaotic amblings of millions of people into perfectly formed lines of the faithful within a span of few minutes or the inner strength the faith provides for people to struggle and give up basic comforts because of the innate desire to please the God. An intending pilgrim making this a priority ahead of time by taking few steps to prepare will purify the soul and the struggle will be spiritually uplifting and rewarding.
b) Preparing oneself MentallyKnow the requirements of performing Hajj, gather knowledge about Hajj rituals, know what to expect and set the expectations, prepare oneself mentally to face the strains of the journey ahead like being mindful of weather conditions in Saudi Arabia as it is an arid, desert country where extremities in weather are to be expected hence carrying a sun hat, an umbrella, small handheld fan and towel will come in quite handy. Expect to stand in long lines, at times pushing because large crowds of people are accommodated in a comparatively small area, expect long queues at rest rooms and for doing ablutions before prayers. One needs to keep in mind that Hajj is not an easy journey but those who perform it with a strong intention will be rewarded by the God.
c) Preparing oneself Physically
Hajj involves a great deal of physical activities where intending pilgrims are required to walk miles under the hot sun during the day and face the cold desert temperatures at night therefore one must condition the body accordingly for the demanding journey ahead by building up endurance and stamina to have a smooth pilgrimage.
In consultation with the doctor start by developing a habit of walking daily at least a month or two before departure for a minimum of 30 minutes and thereafter keep increasing the duration of walks. Start to exercise body daily focusing on strengthening of muscles for the body to keep up with the exertions it will endure during Hajj.
Having a healthy diet which should include a greater portion of fruits and vegetables to get essential nutrients and having/adapting a simple lifestyle will gear the body well for the rigours of pilgrimage. Ensure and carry necessary supply of prescription medicine as well as other essential medicines for common ailments and allergies. All intending pilgrims should get required vaccinations before departure and carry their record on self.
Pilgrims in consultation with their dietician also should pack handy snacks like energy bars, glucose packet drinks in preparation for the journey ahead and dried dates can be purchased locally in Makkah and Madinah as they are easy to source and replenish locally.
For maintaining personal hygiene pilgrims also should pack disinfectant, hand sanitizer, masks to wear in crowded areas, disposable wipes and tissues. Last but not the least having comfortable shoes are a necessity for the amount of walking a pilgrim is required to do during the Hajj.
d) Financial Preparation
For Hajj commences with intending pilgrim having the financial capability to perform Hajj which is having sufficient funds to pay the Hajj costs and at the same time having the financial means to support one’s dependants at home while being on pilgrimage (it is important to know that Hajj costs need to be paid for from pure savings obtained through Halal (lawful) means while money obtained through Haram (unlawful) means like theft, robbery, fraud, bribery, interest or other doubtful means are unacceptable and additionally one cannot borrow money to perform Hajj). It is acceptable to take a free trip for Hajj as a gift or Sadaqah (voluntary charity) provided the dependants of the person accepting it are sufficiently provided for in their absence while on Hajj.
Budgeting for the journey is the first important step – knowing the potential costs in performing the Hajj which include visa, vaccinations as required by the Saudi government, travel logistics, the sacrifice of the animal near the end of the Hajj, money for voluntary charity and sundries like meals, calls, souvenirs etc. while on pilgrimage. It is always handy to have cash on self to cover day to day costs while on pilgrimage. Another important step is obtaining travel and health insurance for self before departure to cover any travel or medical emergencies so one can perform the pilgrimages (Hajj/Umrah) with utmost devotion and peace of mind.