It is one of the greatest gathering of humans in one place on Earth. Millions of devout Muslims make the journey to Mecca much like the Prophet Muhammad did 1,377 years ago. This is a pilgrimage that must be taken by able Muslims at least once in their lives.
Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam that all Muslims must undertake to visit the House of Allah and perform different rituals. The pilgrimage embodies the teachings of equality, submissiveness, humility and the universal brotherhood of Islam.
It is a pilgrimage of the spirit which is performed for three to six days, therefore, getting ready physically, mentally and spiritually for Hajj and Umrah is extremely important. Your experience in Mecca may have many great moments and some not so great moments, that is why prior preparation is important as this may be a once in a lifetime event! It will help you have a positive and fulfilling experience and you will easily face any challenges that may come your way.
So check out this list of things to do to make your experience in Mecca a great one!
You will have to perform different rituals for Hajj and Umrah. If you are lucky the group you are with or scholars would have given you advice before you leave for Umrah or Hajj. However, this may not always be the case.
It is important to understand the rituals and why you have to perform them, what is their significance? How does it affect you? It is always better to do your own homework on these rituals instead of having to depend on a guide or listen to what other people say because these rituals have auspicious timings which you must follow and if you miss it the purpose of the ritual is lost.
It is always best to talk to someone who has already performed their Hajj and Umrah and gain some insight from their experiences, however, it is also good to go on the pilgrimage with a fresh mind and have a pure experience instead of relying on what others have experienced.
Have a Hajj and Umrah checklist at hand as well; this will help prevent you from missing out on any important rituals.
Hajj is about change, it is about repentance. Have a clear set of resolutions in your head – things you’ll want to improve about yourself, any regrets which you want to address and find a way to not make the mistakes you have made.
Don’t have vague goals, have solid specific tangible goals that you can stick to and be sure you will achieve them. To make things easier have a “Hajj buddy”, the two of you can tell each other your goals and encourage each other to achieve them.
Before you leave for your pilgrimage, make it a point to perfect your 5 daily prayers. From taking wudhu, to perfecting your pronunciation for the surahs you recite during your prayers and to making your personalized du'a at the end of it. Your prayers are the pillars of this pilgrimage therefore perfecting your prayers should always be at the top of your list.
Learn and ask as many questions from the scholars on the proper positions for takbir, ruku', sujud and so on. You want to make every prayer count during your pilgrimage. It is so important to understand the meaning behind the surahs that you recite so that you can fully immerse yourself in each prayer you make. Get used to performing sunnah prayers to make full use of your time there.
Personalizing your du'a is so important because it puts you away from wasting time, thinking about what should you pray for, who should you pray for. During this period of time is when your du'a is most likely to be accepted because you're in a pure state. Therefore, don't waste this opportunity to make countless du'a to The Almighty. Start by identifying who you want to make du'a for, what do you want to ask from Allah, asking forgiveness from Allah and highlighting a few du'a asking for protection from Allah. If you really want something, you have to keep mentioning it in every of your du'a and In Shaa Allah, Allah will accept it.
Walking makes up a great part of Hajj and it is important that you are fit for the journey.
Before your journey to Mecca go for regular walks and build up stamina; exercising before the pilgrimage will help you immensely. You don’t want your Hajj experience to be ruined on the account that you are tired. Also, be sure to eat healthy before your journey, make sure you get a lot of nutrients - this way your immune system will be in great condition, besides eating healthy is great for your body anyway!
Another little tip is to invest in a comfortable pair of footwear; it will help in the long run.
Hajj is a journey to cleanse your soul but don’t wait till you get to Mecca to do it, start the journey early at home.
Practice humility every day – treat everyone as equals. Whilst in Mecca you will be surrounded by hundreds of people converging in one place – everyone from different backgrounds – and tempers can rise in a crowded place so remember patience is key.
As great as it is to recite Duas from the Quran it is also important to make Dua from your heart, so self-reflection is very important. Have a conversation with yourself and find what it is that you want Allah to hear.
Be open to meeting new people - strike up conversations, share your experiences with others, this will add to the beauty of your Hajj experience.
When in Mecca it is important to fully immerse yourself in the spiritual experience so distractions must be kept at bay.
Train your mind before you make the journey – slowly start to refrain from spending too much time on social media, take a break from your favorite shows, replace that with quiet meditation or read the Quran. Concentrate on making Dua while at home, this will help you to have a fulfilling journey in Mecca.
Before leaving to Mecca it is important that you have packed everything you will need for your pilgrimage.
Do all your purchasing beforehand and make sure you have packed everything accordingly. Make a list of everything and tick things off once you have sorted them out, that way you can be sure of everything and not have to worry about any last minute mishaps.
Another list you should create is the list of things you want to to do when you're in Mecca or Medina. It could be completing 5 Juz of the Quran, sharing snacks with the people there, donate a chair to the masjid, etc. These little things keep yourself occupied and looking forward to a new day there. These little things also encourage you to create better memories not just for yourself but also with Muslims around you.
During your time in Mecca, you will come across moments of pure solitude. Take this time to write down any reflections you will have at that moment, this will help preserve your experience and you can always go back to them later.
This will help you whenever you have self-doubt or don’t feel good about yourself, your Hajj diary will help offer you some clarity during hard times.
So be sure to carry a little notebook around with you!
You could be going to Mecca with a group of family members or friends which may allow you to have a great experience or a not so great one.
There is always a possibility for disagreements and other distractions to occur when traveling with a group and this could interfere with your spiritual journey. It is important to surround yourself with positive likeminded people who will help you achieve your spiritual goals and support you throughout the pilgrimage
However, if any negative situation arises always forgive people and be patient as we are only human and help them attain their spiritual goals.
Make sure you are healthy before going to Mecca; take blood tests to ensure that your body is in great shape and that your immune system is strong. Take the necessary vaccinations required by the Saudi Government – namely the vaccinations for cholera and meningococcal meningitis.
Take necessary precautions and take any type of medication along with you just in case you catch something in Saudi. It is also recommended to wear mouth face masks as the air can be dusty and this can affect your health, so be sure to add mouth face masks to your checklist.
It is important that you go through a qualified travel agency as they will set up an itinerary for you to follow and make sure you do not miss out on anything. They must be approved by the Ministry of Hajj and have a partnership with a Hajj provider in Saudi.
Make sure that you have all the required documentation to travel to Saudi and pack as light as possible. If you are in doubt as to what you will need to make your journey to Mecca you can contact your Saudi Arabia embassy and they will offer you a list of things and documents that you will need.
Hopefully, this list will help you prepare for your much awaited Hajj journey!