By Shawana A. Aziz
26 September 2014
In this life people are usually aware of two kinds of journeys; those made to earn a livelihood and those undertaken for pleasure and sightseeing. The Haj however is unique from these journeys, since it is made solely for the purpose of pleasing Allah, the Exalted. For over 1400 years, Muslim from around the world, men and women had been travelling to the Holy city of Makkah.
Haj is a trip of lifetime; it is only required once from a Muslim and it is only the first one that counts as the fulfilment of the obligation.
All other performances of Haj are voluntary and cannot replace the compulsory Haj. Therefore, it is imperative that it is performed sincerely and correctly for the first time.
Though Haj can be quiet a journey, a little preparation and planning will, Insha’Allah make your journey much easier. This planning should not be limited to the logistics, but should also include spiritual, financial, physical and mental preparations. Following are a few points to help you preparing in your Haj:
1. Purify your creed (Aqeedah) from all aspects of Shirk, major or minor. No deed is accepted to Allah however noble it is, without such purification: “If you associate (with Allah), your deeds will be ruined and verily you will be among the losers.” (Qur’an, 39: 65)
2. Devote your Haj purely and sincerely for Allah. This is a spiritual preparation; the acceptance and reward of your Haj largely depends on your intention and piety.
3. Acquire thorough knowledge about the rites of Haj and Umrah from start to finish, because knowledge differentiates right from wrong. Haj education can be sought through various means, reading books which explain in detail the subject, computer programs which precisely demonstrate the rituals of Haj using the multimedia format, attending regular Haj classes offered by Islamic centres, etc.
4. Use Halal means to support your journey. “Allah is pure and He does not accept but pure only.” (Saheeh Muslim) Take everything what you will require (do not depend on others or ask them to fulfil your needs). Make sure you have enough money to suffice yourself during the journey and secure the needs of your family members whom you may leave behind. Nowadays, people try their best to take along all things of comfort for Haj. They take all kinds of precautions but the best precaution is piety, fear of Allah and righteousness. Allah says: “Take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best provision is At-Taqwa (piety). So fear Me, O men of understanding!” (2:197)
5. At the end of this verse, Allah orders us to be righteous and fear Him, this is for two major reasons, one because the Haji need piety before going to Haj. He should remind himself to fear Allah because he will face many difficulties and hardships, which he should accept and endure, in order to please His Lord. The second reason is that Haj itself is a means to achieve Taqwa, the Haji increases in faith by obeying Allah and his Messenger (peace be upon him) all throughout his Haj.
6. The intense exertion coupled with harsh desert climate of Makkah can take serious toll on your body. Therefore, be sure to carry along vaccines and drugs. Avoid all unnecessary hardships and take adequate precautions to avoid problems.
7. The journey of Haj involves a great deal of physical activities and thus you must be fully prepared to face this physical challenge. The experts recommend that people who intend to perform Haj must initiate a walking routine one or two months prior to the journey. This will increase physical stamina and help the Haji to keep up with the long walks and long standings. Indeed, Haj involves a lot of labour and struggle but the reward for this great act is also great in amount.
8. Also from the preparations of Haj are the mental preparations. Know that the Haji (pilgrim) is bound to experience intense heat, pushing, standing in long lines, uncomfortable lodging, etc. due to the large crowd of people trying to accommodate in a particularly small area.
9. Relieve yourself from any injustice, which you may have inflicted upon others. Fulfill any obligation, which you owe to other before the journey. Prepare a Waseeyah (Will) before you depart and make peace with those with whom you have a dispute, pay your debts, and advise your family not to be extravagant, Allah says: “… and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance…” (7: 31)
10. Accompany the knowledgeable and righteous Muslims and stay away from the innovators. Keep away from all prohibited acts, men should not shave their beard for the Haj and it is prohibited for them to wear gold.
11. Safeguard your tongue from all vain talk, backbiting, arguing and complaining. This is against the morals of Islam in general and especially against the rules of Haj. Such talks and actions will make one’s Haj incomplete and reduce the reward. Haj is a long journey and one is likely to behave immorally, therefore on guard and control yourself from any misconduct: “So during Haj there should not be obscenity, nor wickedness, nor wrangling.” (Qur’an, 2:197) Remember, Shaytaan is at his best to cause mischief!