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Tips For Hajj

For those people getting ready to go to Hajj, may Allah Subhanahu wata'ala accept your Hajj and may this spiritual journey be of religious support to you for the rest of your life.  I hope the tips below will be useful to you and will make your trip easier inshallah.

Preparation Tips:

  • For men it is a good suggestion to try wearing your Ihram 'clothes' for a few days at home before you travel as they can be rather uncomfortable and strange if you have never worn them before.  The easiest way to keep the bottom wrapping in place is to overlap them (the way you wrap a towel) but roll the entire top edge over itself three or four times. Nothing beats this for keeping everything together, it works much better than pins, belts, ropes etc.  This is the way Malaysian/Indonesian men wear their saris and it works very well.
      
  • Wash Ihram clothes with unscented (fragrance-free) detergent before you leave and store/pack them away from other clothes that are scented.
              
  • The sunnah is to bathe, then wear your Ihram wrappings and pray two rakats.
        
  • Do not put scented deodorant.  If you wish to have something to help with sweat, use something called "Shabbah" which is a natural unscented crystal called alum in English that they use in anti-perspirant and is permissible.  If you are traveling from the Middle East, this is abundant in any spice market including Saudi Arabia. 
           
  • Since one is not supposed to remove hairs, clip nails, etc. while in a state of Ihram, it is wise for women to find a way to braid/bind your hair up so that it can be worn without brushing for a few days.  While this is not much of an issue during Ummrah, since it happens fairly quickly, during Hajj you will be in in Ihram for three days and you need to plan accordingly.  If it is possible, it is a good idea to practice/experiment at home before you leave.
        
  • While on the plane the captain will announce that you are approaching the "Meeqat". That is the set point at which you must set your Hajj and/or Ummrah intention.
            
  • In Jeddah expect a long wait at the airport.  Be observant of the time since you need to catch your prayers and unfortunately they do not call the adhan over loudspeakers in the airport.  

Critical Tips:

  • Keep your slippers next to you, they will be taken if you leave them outside in the shoe racks.  It is less likely that they are stolen, but they all look alike and mistakes occur all the time.  
          
  • Do not get angry.  There are millions of people there, many with very irritating or misguided actions.   
              
  • Baab as-Salaam (The door or entryway of as-Salaam)
    This is the entryway that the prophet Muhammed used to take to enter to the Haram (sanctified area) around the Ka'aba.  The door is understandably CLOSED at this point since it goes right across the walkway between Safa and Marwa, and we spent a very long time searching for it before we realized that it was no longer open. If you walk a few steps past it however, there is a set of stairs that takes you to a walkway over Safa and Marwa so you can use that which is the alternative route.
              
  • It is the sunnah that a women should not travel alone for extended periods without a "mahram" (father, son, husband, brother, maternal or fraternal uncle).  While some scholars have ruled that it is permissible if the woman is traveling with a group of good muslims, in our experience it was a very bad idea for those women to go on Hajj alone.  No matter how good the group is, there are situations that you must be with someone that can be in contact with you physically such as the jamarat or spending the night in Muzdalifah.  Our group faced a huge dilemma in trying to protect these women while staying within the limits set for us.  Without going into details, many of the women were put into situations that were very humiliating and they were very unhappy.  It is not a decision to be made lightly, and it is our belief that if you decide to forego Hajj for the reason of not having a mahram and nothing else, that Allah will reward you with the full rewards of going on Hajj.  From everything stated in the sunnah and from our own personal experience it is not an easy thing for a woman to travel alone, especially on Hajj.
                 
  • DO NOT LEAVE ANY BELONGINGS ON ANY BUS AT ANYTIME. No matter what they say, you may not find the same bus again and many people permanently lost their belongings this way.
             
  • After you are done with the day of Arafat, you will be going to Muzdalifah to spend the night (or the better portion of the night).  It is approximately six miles from Arafat to Mina where your tents are, and Muzdalifah is about half way there.  It is the sunnah to leave Arafat right after Maghrib and walk this trip. In our experience it is actually a lot faster and easier to walk than taking the buses unless you have a physical difficulty and are unable to.  

    Our group was split on this issue and some of the people went by bus while others walked.  We were among the group that walked and it took us about 3 hours walking at a brisk pace from when we left Arafat until we reached Muzdalifah.  We were then able to find a spot and sleep for a few hours, then collect our stones for the Jamarat and leave slightly before Fajr to the Jamarat.  The group who took the buses did not arrive until around 3 a.m. although they left slightly before we did.  They spent well over 5 hours in a hot crowded bus and were not able to find a spot to sleep once they got to Muzdalifah since the area around where the buses unload is too crowded.  NONE of them was happy with the situation while our group, although VERY tired, felt a deep satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.  

    In our opinion walking has another advantage which is the experience of walking the same route as the Prophet with hundreds of thousands of other Muslims all with the same goal.  It was very peaceful and is one of the few times during Hajj where no one was pushing or jostling for position.  There is nothing like looking to the right of you and looking to the left of you and seeing nothing but other Muslims going towards the same place you are.  

    One more tip for Muzdalifah, if you walk from Arafat do not stop as soon as you see the sign letting you know that you are in Muzdalifah.  Continue walking for a ways and you will find that the areas further in are much less crowded and the bathrooms are in a much better state.  We stopped as soon as we reached Muzdalifah and found it quite crowded.  When we left the next morning we found to our surprise that if we had only continued for another 10-15 minutes we would have had our pick of spots, a better bathroom situation, and we would have been that much closer to the Jamarat when we started out the next morning.
                 
  • While you are in Muzdalifah, collect EXTRA stones.  You may need extras when throwing the stones at the Jamarat, some may miss the target and others may fall from your hand before throwing and it is better to have extras than to be in need.  The best container that we saw to collect your stones in was a small, empty water bottle.  It is readily available, has a lid, and the size of the opening is perfect for the size of stones you should be collecting.  

Jamarat Tips

  • With regards to the Jamarat, the first time you go there will be right after spending the night in Muzdalifah.  Since people trickle in depending on when they leave, it is not too crowded.  The next two days are a totally different story, the crowds are unbelievable.  In fact it is the most crowded point during Hajj.  
                    
  • Do not confuse the fact that you cast your stones on the first day after fajr with the other days. Casting your stones at the Jamarat in the later days can only take place AFTER the adhan for Dhuhr (noon prayer) in order for it to be valid, no matter what your possibly very ignorant travel agent says.  A huge number of them try to convince their groups that there is a sheikh somewhere that said it was o.k. so that they can get out as soon as possible and to the airport where they book the tickets too early.  Do not ruin all of your Hajj effort over this issue.  There are many planes leaving from Saudi and the truth is that they want to get rid of everyone and they will find a way for you to get on a plane going home, even if you have a delay doing it.  For what it is worth you will not usually get on the plane that you are booked on no matter what.  During Hajj the planes basically run like a bus, whenever a plane is full, it leaves.
                   
  • Most people know that they must wait until after Dhuhr and because of the impatient travel agents telling everyone to rush they all gather outside the Jamarat in a MASSIVE crowd waiting for the Adhan.  Once it is called they ALL rush in and this is when many people are stampeded.  The only solution is to ignore your travel agent and wait until the noon rush is over.  After that it is still crowded but the crowd is not in a frenzy.  Wait until Asr or Maghrib and then go do your final day of Jamarat.  Even if your bus has left by then, your travel agent will find you an alternative.  Your travel agent will make sure that you get to Makkah to do your final tawwaf and to the airport.  The Saudis do not want you to stay, they will make sure you get home and your travel agent is always held accountable for anyone he brings in, do not be concerned.
                   
  • As soon as you are done with the first day of the Jamarat (right after Muzdalifah) you break your ihram when you arrive back to your tents. Therefore, in the last days you are allowed to wear any clothes you like and stitched shoes that enclose your entire foot.  Do so!  Wear a good pair of very secure shoes to the next two days of Jamarat.  The piles of flip-flops in the Jamarat that people lose are unbelievable some are feet deep and they will make you lose yours too.  There are stones covering the ground by then so you really do not want to go shoeless.  The best thing is a pair of soft soled high-top sneakers (you do not want a hiking boot or anything like that as you will hurt others as you are trying to please Allah).
                       
  • Many scholars have agreed that it is acceptable for a man to throw the stones for their women.  Some still favor that the woman must throw the stones herself.  The best thing is for you to go and see.  If it is possible for her to do it with reasonable ease, then go for it.  If the crowd is in a frenzy or if you see unsuitable things occurring then it is probably best that she waits on the outskirts while you throw it for her.  It is worth noting that there are many atrocious situations that occur during the Jamarat and while we were there we saw women who were separated from there mahrams and even had their head coverings and clothes torn from them.  One of the single women that was with us in the group was actually physically groped and fondled while she was attempting to throw her stones.  There are shady people with very little Islamic knowledge and manners.  Needless to say, it was very traumatic for all of us so make sure that you look out for the women who are with you.
                   
  • One last note with regards to the Jamarat.  It is our experience that the lower level is a better option than the upper level because it tends to be less crowded.  On the lower level you can also exit from any door as opposed to the upper level ramp which is the only way to get in or out of the upper level.  The entrance to the upper level is more prominent and therefore most people use that one as a default, but the lower one is there and it looks almost like a parking garage entrance. 

What to take with you:

  • Vaseline or other fragrance-free cream such as A&E Ointment:  You will need this if you walk from Arafat to Muzdalifah, or if you have big thighs.  Make sure that you bring this with you to Arafat and rub it on the inside of your thighs liberally before you set out and again when you leave for the Jamarat in the morning.  Especially for men (who have nothing underneath their wraps), you will most probably have a lot of chafing on your thighs with all of the walking that you do on Hajj as a whole, but particularly from Arafat to Mina.
                    
  • Shabbah (Alum): As mentioned above this is available in any spice market and it is very cheap.
                
  • Flip-Flops/Sandals: these are for the day to day usage and for going in and out of the masjid and a must for men when in Ihram.  The scholars that were with us were wearing sandals (with stitching) during Ihram and informed us that these are acceptable as long as the heel is NOT covered from behind. 
                 
  • High-top tennis shoes: these are for the last two days of the Jamarat.
                     
  • Photo copy of your passport, tickets and all documents that will be with you.  
                     
  • No need to exchange currency.  There are plenty of currency exchanges everywhere and Dollars are easily converted to Riyals.

This page last updated on: Monday, August 03, 2009Click Here to be notified as we update it. 

 

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