… And [due] to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House – for whoever is able to find thereto a way… (Quran 3:97)
There are five pillars in the Islamic faith and performing Hajj is the fifth pillar. Muslims from all over the globe descend upon the city of Makkah from the 8th to the 12th of Dhu al-Hijjah which is the last month of the Islamic calendar.
It is obligatory for Muslims, who have the financial means and health, to perform Hajj once in a lifetime. It is a great blessing to be able to perform Hajj, whether you are a life-long Muslim or a new revert to the Islamic faith.
And it is a great misconception that new reverts to Islam are somehow ‘not ready’ for the journey or should delay it. No one knows what tomorrow will bring. It doesn’t matter if you were born a Muslim or just embraced the Islamic faith recently, do not delay Hajj if you are of sound mind, body and can afford it. As our Holy Messenger said:
Whoever wants to do Hajj, let him hasten to do it for he may fall sick or be faced with some need. (Ibn Majah)
Journey of a Lifetime
It is a great blessing to be able to perform Hajj. Many Muslims, from all walks of life, save for the journey for years and still come up short. It is a dream of every Muslim to be able to perform it, but the reality is that some will never be able to do so. If you are able to do so, please consider it as a great mercy from Allah Almighty.
The journey of Hajj is the culmination of all the rights that Allah Almighty has upon you and it is a fulfillment of your Deen. Anyone who performs the Hajj perfectly has a clean slate and all of their sins are forgiven.
As our Holy Messenger said:
Whoever performs Hajj for the sake of Allah and does not utter any obscene speech or do any evil deed, will go back (free of sin) as his mother bore him. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Rites of Hajj
It can be confusing for a new revert to Islam to perform Hajj. Traveling to Saudi Arabia and, most likely, not being able to speak the Arabic language is the first stumbling block.
However, don’t let this hold you back. Allah judges each soul by its intention and our Creator knows your commitment to performing the best Hajj possible.
Familiarizing yourself with the Rites of Hajj will go a long way in alleviating the stress of the journey, they are as follows:
– Ihram – Muslims shed the clothing from their earthly existence and don unstitched pieces of fabric while making their niyah or intention to perform Hajj.
– Once in Makkah, Muslims perform the ‘Tawaf Al-Qudum’ and ‘Saii’.
– Next, Muslims travel to Mina where the 5 obligatory prayers are performed throughout the day. Following the dawn prayer, Muslims prepare to leave for Mount Arafat.
– Muslims perform wuquf or standing at Mount Arafat. During this time, Muslims offer as many supplications as possible and seek forgiveness from their Lord. The Dhuhr and Asr prayers are offered before heading to Muzdalifah as soon as the sun sets.
– At Muzdalifah, Muslims collect 49 stones and pray the Maghrib and Isha prayers. Following the dawn prayer, Muslims head back to the city of Mina.
– Once in Mina, Muslims perform rami al jamarat, or the stoning of the devil. It commemorates what the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) did as an act to reject the temptations of the devil.
– The Eid al Adha festival begins and is commemorated by shaving the head (for men) or trimming the hair (for women). An animal is sacrificed and the meat is distributed to the needy as a means of sustenance.
– Muslims travel back to Makkah and perform the farewell tawaf to complete their Hajj journey.
Getting Closer to Your Creator
The blessings of Hajj are innumerable and if you ask a ‘Hajji’, or someone who has completed the Hajj journey, you’ll find that the memories last a lifetime.
Sana Shafi, who is a mom living in North Carolina, performed the Hajj while pregnant with her now one-year-old child.
“There are no words to explain the challenges I faced. But in those difficulties, I found so much goodness and so much strength,” she shares, “Allah gives you difficulties so that you can feel that there’s none who can get you out of it. I went to the emergency room twice on the day of Arafat. They offered to take me to the Makkah hotel directly, but Allah gave me the strength to perform all the steps to complete my Hajj.”
Rubina Nakhuda, a Sister from Canada, also performed the Hajj in 2014. She says:
“It’s a life changing experience for everyone. It makes you very humble to forget about all the worldly things. It’s just you and Allah Almighty.”
Tips for a Successful Hajj
Everyone has their own tips and tricks for performing the Hajj, and reverts to Islam, especially, can benefit from these tips ahead of their journey. Sana and Rubina share their best tips for a successful Hajj:
- Be patient. The Hajj is meant to be a struggle. Keep making dua and ask Allah to answer your supplications.
- Travel light. You can survive with the bare minimum for a few days.
- Pack the essentials, such as unscented soap and other toiletries. Two pairs of flip flops, a sleeping bag and energy bars are more than enough to take for the journey.
- All prescription medication must be in its original container.
- Avoid dehydration. Drink water throughout the day, and even the night, to ensure that your body is hydrated.
- Salah, or the daily prayers, are the only things that happen on time during the journey. Put your watches away and remain calm when facing things like traffic jams.
- Not everyone follows the rules during the Hajj and some might exhibit bad manners. Avoid getting caught up in “groups” of people that are wearing the same colored hats or headscarves. It’s easy to get in their path and be pulled away with them as they can be aggressive.
- Only you can experience Hajj for yourself. You will be amazed by the unity of the Muslim Ummah and uplifted by our belief in one God!