What You Must Do Before Going to Hajj
Hajj is one of the main rituals of Islam, and it takes tremendous physical and mental effort, as well as the spiritual dedication. Because of the nature of it, like all types of pilgrimage, it can be quite challenging and requires certain preparations too. It's not a matter that can be taken lightly or suddenly decided upon. Hajj demands thorough and meticulous preparation that takes time.
There are two timelines for the preparations related to Hajj—for the Haji who is already scheduled for the pilgrimage this time, and the one who has an intention to go in the near future. For most of us, it is too late to register to perform hajj this year. But many of us are also lucky in having made the intention and already looking forward to this year's Hajj.
Let's take a look at the long-term preparation one should practice for Hajj.
Niyyah and mental preparation
The first step of any religious activity in Islam is niyyah. Niyyah means the intention in one's heart to do an act for the sake of Allah and one must set his intention of carrying out Hajj quite a while before actually setting out on the pilgrimage given that the overall preparation might take some time. Set your niyyah right and start surrendering yourself to Allah.
Hajj is not a vacation. Yes, you will be a long way from home but it is for the sake of Allah. Prepare yourself by cutting out all the bad habits that affect you physically. There will be a lot walking and it's going to be physically demanding. Besides, Saudi Arabia experiences significantly hot temperatures as well significantly cold temperatures, sometimes even within the span of the same 24 hours, and all that is going to extract a physical toll as well. Start preparing by eating a balanced diet, drinking a lot of water and practicing a healthy routine such as going to sleep on time and waking up early. Making a habit of jogging, walking and light physical exercise should boost your stamina.
Since you will be travelling to a foreign country, naturally you will need a number of papers. Passport, Visa, medical certificate, travel insurances, plane tickets, receipts of payments, passport size photographs etc. Sometimes they might take a while to get processed for a number of reasons. It is a good idea to start working on the papers as early as possible to avoid complications in the last minute. Better safe than sorry.
While it is true that the impact of COVID-19 is less severe at the moment than it used to be, you should consider COVID-19 while preparing. Make sure that you are vaccinated and you have your vaccination certificate and when needed, COVID-19 test report with you while travelling and while submitting the papers. Do not forget to pack personal safety items such as sanitizers, masks etc.
In the preparation stage, finances will mean two things. The first one is of course the cost of Hajj. Make sure that you can cover the cost without any negative impact on your family. Another issue to consider before leaving for pilgrimage is that while on Hajj, you will be gone for a while and your family will be left on their own. It is strongly recommended that you set your finances in order before leaving for Hajj so your loved ones do not have to suffer in your absence.
Start working on the finances as early as possible so that they are well in order by the time you are ready to leave.
Hajj takes some time and you will need supplies. Ahram Clothing, a copy of the holy Quran (preferably in a handy size), praying mat, self-care essentials, first aid kit, small bag, change of clothing, shoes and sandals, notebook and pens, medical supplies etc. The list can be quite extensive. You should make a checklist and pack accordingly. Remember — hope for the best but prepare for the worst. In a foreign land, you never know what sort of issues you might face. You should prepare to face any situation so you can avoid all distractions and surrender yourself to Allah.
Islam is highly appreciative of knowledge and encourages to study. You should study all the essential duas and rituals before setting out on your journey so you can perform them without any issues. Speak to someone who has already been to Hajj. Discuss their journey and the whole process so you can get a clear and concise idea. Study the holy Quran as often as possible and the hadiths as well.
Double check your paperwork because they are extremely crucial. Go through your checklist to see if you missed packing something. Speak to a doctor to adjust any regular medicines you take, and take a copy of the prescription for reference. Pack light, but do not skimp on the essentials. It is best to speak to a Haji about their experience and insight to help guide with the packing. Speak to your trusted relatives and inform them that you are going to Hajj and ask some to check up on your family in your absence.
Remember, Hajj is not a vacation. It is your way of showing Allah that you are surrendering to him. Clear your mind from all sorts of distractions and focus on your Niyyah. May Allah grant you the ability to perform Hajj safe and sound.