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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
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
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.
- 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
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
- Shabbah (Alum):
As mentioned above this is available in any spice market and it is
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.
last updated on: Monday, August 03, 2009
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