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A Hajj Guide for First Timers

What to Expect at Hajj

Remaining time in Makkah, before Hajj:

A Hajj Guide for First Timers - About IslamYou will have a few days in Makkah before you depart to Mina for the start of Hajj. Try to perform every salah in congregation here (salah at the mall is also considered part of the Haram’s congregation, which is 100,000 times the normal reward!!). Unless you’re sick or exhausted, take advantage of this!

Also, try to finish any shopping you want to do because once you leave for Hajj, you will only be back for the final tawaf (Tawaf al-Wada’) after which you have to leave Makkah.

It’s pertinent to make a list of gifts and requests from family and friends prior to leaving for Hajj, so you’re not scrambling to remember while you’re there.

As far as food is concerned, eat whatever meals are included in your package, and eat the rest at the food court. You have every type of cuisine there – from Pakistani to American to Turkish and much, much more.

Try to get some rest the night before you leave for Mina.

Mina

The night before you depart for Mina, your travel group will ask you for the bags that you will NOT be taking with you; they will be stored until you leave for the airport or Jeddah. For Mina, I packed a carry-on and a backpack.

The carry-on contained my toiletries (remember, non-scented because you will be in Ihram for three days), pajama pants and a tank top for each day I’m in Mina and two abayas – one for Arafat, Muzdalifah, and the first of the Jamarat and the second for the remaining days. I also packed one pair of flip-flops and my Clark cloud-stepper sandals and oud that I had bought from Madinah to wear after I get out of Ihram (this will be the day of Eid for all not performing Hajj, but remember, for Hajji’s it’s not over yet!).

The backpack contained some snacks (Belvita crackers and Nature Valley dry granola bars), my water bottle (the kind that keeps water cold for many hours), cold packs and basic meds that I ended up using near the end of Mina (Sudafed, cough med and Tylenol and electrolyte tabs). My body had given up at that point, but Alhumdulilah after Muzdalifah, you do get some rest in Mina. Your time there will be mostly spent in ibadah.

Once we arrived at Mina, we settled in, ate, and learned about our days ahead.

Arafah

A Hajj Guide for First Timers - About IslamMount Arafah is significant because it was where the Prophet (S) gave his farewell sermon. During the entire day there, Muslims performing Hajj stand in earnest supplication, praying for Allah (S) to forgive all their sins. For Muslims around the world who are not at Hajj, the Day of Arafah is the day before Eid, typically spent fasting and worshipping Allah (S).

Once we got to Arafah, we prayed Fajr and were strongly urged to nap until Duhr. I took heed of the advice and even skipped breakfast because I did not want to waste time and wanted to get some rest. This is where my snacks came in handy.

In Arafah, you combine Duhr and Asr. After you pray, it’s time to get to work and ask for Allah’s mercy. This is one of the most important times during Hajj when Allah will (inshallah) cleans you of ALL your sins. I had compiled a list of duas the month before Hajj.

While making dua and reflecting on my life, I cried so much because I felt like the biggest sinner in existence. It was at this point, I realized, we all get deceived by this Dunya. I asked for forgiveness for everything wrong that I had done, then made duas for myself and anyone who had asked me to (which I had also compiled on google docs).

You might see people sleeping during this precious time. Be sure to wake them and urge them to make dua. Others might want to converse or chit-chat with you, but it’s okay to stop them because you might never get this opportunity again. I took a 10-minute break for lunch, and a few hours later for bathroom and wudu before the lines got long (approximately an hour before it was time to depart to Muzdalifah).

I recall listening to the Khutbah in Arafah and crying like a baby. Loudly. You can’t control it and you get so immersed in the duas. I poured my heart out to Allah (S) and felt so light afterward. As we were walking to the gate right before Maghrib to depart for Muzdalifah, our group leader told us that this feeling of lightness is a sign of acceptance. InshAllah you will feel this way as well. Make your final duas before the sun sets and imagine yourself rising on Arafah on the day of Judgement. It really put things into perspective for me.

As you wait for the train or bus to head to Muzdalifah, make sure you keep yourself hydrated! It will be hot, and you could be waiting a while for your transportation.

Muzdalifah

A Hajj Guide for First Timers - About Islam

After 5 hours of waiting at Arafah, we finally made it to Muzdalifah. It was very exhausting, but Alhumdulilah could’ve been worse. It’s Hajj after all, and you will endure hardships. Allah (S) will test your patience at various points whether it’s with wait times, people, food or perhaps all of the above.

Try to spend your time at Muzdalifah resting and worshiping. Also, make sure you collect stones for Jamarat.

Jamarat

At Jamarat, you will throw the stones you collected at three pillars that represent the temptations of the Devil. The stones represent Prophet Ibrahim (AS)’s rejection of the devil’s recommendation to not carry out the sacrifice commanded by Allah (S) and the firmness of his faith.

While stoning, continue to make all the duas that are in your heart and remember, you can’t fool Allah (S) – He knows you best!

After throwing the stones, pilgrims will slaughter an animal as a sacrifice and give away the meat to the poor.

Tawaf Al-Ziyarah

A Hajj Guide for First Timers - About IslamWhen you head back to Mina, you will hear that it’s Eid. People may even dress up slightly because it is, but remember, it’s not Eid for you yet. Like Umrah, you still have to get your hair cut and perform Tawaf al Ziyarah before your Hajj is complete. After the hair cutting, you will be out of Ihram for Tawaf Al-Ziyarah, so feel free to shower with your scented toiletries.

We headed to Makkah for the Tawaf after Isha that night. We took the bus, and it took a very long time due to the rush to arrive at Makkah (it’s only a 15-20 minute walk), so on the way back, upon completion, we had ice cream and walked back!

We did the second round of Jamarat and then headed back to our camp. Our Hajj was now complete! We had one final round at Jamarat, then one more night in Mina that I utilized to read Quran and bond with my Hajj sisters.

The last and final ritual for Umrah and Hajj is Tawaf al Wada’. After completion, it’s time to head out, and, for us, that meant heading to Jeddah for two days before leaving for the US.

This is a very concise recollection of my Hajj experience, but I hope it can give you a general idea of what to expect. Everyone has their own experiences but remember this – Hajj is not granted to all. Take advantage of this invitation from Allah (S). Don’t waste this opportunity.

For me, I realized, how short this life is and how easily we all get consumed and duped by this Duniya. The last day at Mina, I sat down with a scholar and asked him about Hijab. It A Hajj Guide for First Timers - About Islamwas at that point that I decided to wear the hijab full-time. It is a daily reminder to me that Allah (S) granted me this incredible journey and I am forever grateful.

My hijab keeps me in check. I battle my nafs every day to place the scarf over my head and then remember that no one matters but HE who created me. He is my protector. He is Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem.

This life will be over before we know it, and Hajj was a reminder of that. It is time to get our priorities straight. This might not make sense now, but I promise you after Hajj, it will inshallah!

 

Lastly, please keep me in your duas! Hajj Mabroor! May Allah accept from us all!

 

Know anyone going to Hajj? Send this post to them, and let us know if you have any other advice or tips in the comments below! 

This article was originally published on hautehijab.com

 

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About Sadaf Haq
Sadaf Haq is an American of Pakistani Descent. After a few years of working in Corporate America, she now dedicates her time to volunteer work, community organization, and her Radio show, Perspectives, which airs on Radio Azad (local to Dallas). Sadaf is actively involved in Interfaith work and uses that as a platform to clear any misconceptions people have about Muslims.