بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Throughout human history, people have been assembling for various purposes. Commercial, cultural, political, and recreational purpose have drawn thousands if not hundreds of thousands. But nothing compares to the Hajj—a gathering of millions. It is an assembly of believers bound together for a single reason: to answer the call of the Lord of the Worlds:
“Declare to the people the Hajj. They will come on foot and on every lean camel. They will come from every remote path.” [22: 27]
The result is an awe-inspiring gathering of faith. The Hajj—all of its motions and utterances—are for the sake of glorifying, exalting and surrendering to Allah.
What is ‘A Pilgrim’s Journey’?
A Pilgrim’s Journey was originally a 7-week email series produced by Hunafaa Travel with the goal of preparing a pilgrim for Ḥajj. It is concentrates primarily on the spiritual dimensions of the divinely revealed rites. It is less to do with fiqh and more to do with the deeper meanings symbolised in the Hajj.
Too often, the primary focus of a pilgrim’s preparation is on the do’s and don’ts; not much consideration is given to the deeper, more profound meanings of the pilgrimage.
What will I get out of it?
An appreciation that the Hajj rites are more than just statements and actions; they embody powerful ideas and everlasting meanings, which mature and guide the heart and mind of every pilgrim. You will, by Allah’s Grace, begin to admire the wisdom, gentleness and mercy, which Allah has placed in this epic, marathon-like worship.
Who is it for?
It is for all Muslims especially anyone travelling for Hajj. The content in this email series is applicable to life beyond the pilgrimage.
A breakdown of the contents is as follows:
1 – Thinking about Hajj
We discuss how to best plan for Hajj.
2 – To-Do tips
The pilgrimage is no easy task. To alleviate some of its difficulties we address a range of troubling issues.
3 – Explanation of the Talbiyah
We reflect on the meanings of the most repeated phrase of Hajj.
4 – Umrah: A Journey to The King
Most people couple their Hajj with an Umrah, and the actions stipulated in it are also found in Hajj. Here, we dissect the Umrah experience.
5 & 6 – 8th -13th days of Dhull Hijjah
The days of Hajj have begun. We look at what takes place on these days and make an effort to uncover the buried gems and treasures herein.
7 – Conclusion of the Hajj season
We discuss life at the end of the Hajj cycle.
8 – Bonus: A Pertinent Advice
Parting advice from one of our resident scholars.
There are many points of etiquette to be followed by the traveller, which the scholars have compiled. One of those who compiled these rulings well was al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him), in his book al-Majmu, where he mentions sixty-two points of etiquette. We will mention some of them in brief, and anyone who wants to know more may consult the writings of al-Nawawi.
Chapter on the etiquette of travelling
1 – When a person wants to travel, it is recommended for him to consult those whose religious commitment, experience and knowledge he trusts about travelling at that time. The one who is consulted must be sincere in offering advice and avoid being influenced by whims and desires. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“and consult them in the affairs” [3:159].
The authentic hadiths (prophetic reports) indicate that the people used to consult the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) with regard to their affairs.
2 – Once he has decided to travel, the Sunnah is to seek Allah’s guidance by praying istikharah. So he should pray two units of non-obligatory prayer, then recite the du’a of istikharah.
3 – If he has decided to travel for Hajj or any other purpose, he should start by repenting from all sins and makruh (disliked) actions, and he should put right any wrongs he has done towards people and pay off whatever he can of the debts he owes them; he should also return anything that has been entrusted to him and seek forgiveness from anyone with whom he has any dealings or friendship. He should write his will and have it witnessed, and he should appoint someone to pay off the debts that he was not able to pay. He should also leave with his family and those on whom he is obliged to spend enough funds to cover their needs until he returns.
4 – He should seek to please his parents and those whom he is obliged to honour and obey.
5 – If he is travelling for Hajj or any other purpose, he should strive to ensure that his funds are halal and free from any suspicion. If he goes against this and goes for Hajj with wealth that has been seized by force, he is a sinner and although his Hajj may be outwardly valid, it will not be a proper Hajj (Hajj mabrur).
6 – It is recommended for the one who is travelling to Hajj or for any other purpose for which provision is carried to take a great deal of provision and money with him, so that he can share them with those who are in need. His provisions should be good (i.e., halal), because Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“O you who believe! Spend of the good things which you have (legally) earned, and of that which We have produced from the earth for you, and do not aim at that which is bad to spend from it” [2:267].
He should give willingly so that it will be more likely to be accepted.
7 – If he wants to travel for Hajj, he should learn about how they are to be done, for no act of worship is valid if done by one who does not know it properly. It is recommended for the one who wants to do Hajj to take with him a clear book about the rituals which also speaks about their aims, and he should read it constantly and often throughout his journey, so that it will become fixed in his mind. Hence there is the fear that for some of the common folk, their Hajj will not be valid because they fail to fulfil one of the conditions and so on. And some of them may imitate some of the common folk of Makkah, thinking that they know the rituals properly and thus being deceived by them. That is a serious mistake. Similarly in the case of one who is going out for jihad etc, it is recommended for him to take a book which speaks of what he needs to know, and the warrior should learn what he needs to know about fighting and the du’as to be said at that time, and the prohibitions on treachery, killing …
As the days of Hajj draw closer, prospective pilgrims are contemplating about which Hajj company to travel with. Hajj stories are very diverse; some are terribly tragic whilst others are outright hilarious. Understand that your Hajj experience is very much dependent on the Hajj company you choose.
For a more informed and educated choice, we have put together five key things that a prospective pilgrim should look for in every Hajj company.
1. Recommendations. Endorsement and recommendations reflect whether or not the company did an excellent job, and if their customers were satisfied with the service they were provided. It also mirrors the company’s honesty and reliability in delivering what was promised.
Ask around to find out what is the best Hajj company for you. If friends or family had a good experience then most likely you can expect a similar experience.
2. Package details. Make sure you are aware of the package you are buying. Some things to look out for:
Direct flights. Shorter journeys mean less hassle.
Transport. Government provided transport is only mandatory when leaving the airport in Saudi Arabia. Beyond that, private transport is allowed.Government transport incurs greater delays than private transport and is usually very chaotic and unorganised. Don’t expect too much from government transport.Preferably, you want a package that offers private transport. This means that the coaches are for your group only. These coaches maintain a decent standard of comfort and punctuality, and are often air-conditioned.
Important: More often than not, delays due to traffic or road blockages are very common and unavoidable for both government and private transport during the Hajj season.
Hotels. Most people want a hotel in close proximity to both the mosques in Makkah and Madinah. Find out the rating of the hotel as well as its facilities—inside and outside—like a/c, shops and restaurants. Ask to see if any meals are included as part of the package.
Aziziyyah accommodation. Prior to the actual Hajj days, some packages include a short stay in apartments in a suburb of Makkah called Aziziyyah. It is a 10-15 minute drive to Al-Masjid Al-Haram.Most Hajj companies use this time to prepare their pilgrims for the imminent Hajj days. Ask the Hajj company how your time in Aziziyyah is going to be utilised.
Arrangements for the Hajj days. Most of the pilgrim’s time during these days is spent in Mina. For most UK packages, the Mina accommodation is situated in the European section, which is an hour long walk away from the Jamarat (stoning site). VIP packages are situated much closer to the Jamarat. Be sure to know exactly which camp you are in.Find out if meals are provided during these days. What kind of food is it? Are hot and cold drinks available 24 hours a day? You don’t want to stress about food for yourself and your family during these days. The food outlets in Mina are not many and the service is poor. Sometimes, a lot of pushing and shouting is necessary just to be heard. Getting food from these outlets is no easy task.
3. Experience. Ensure that the Hajj company has many years of experience. An experienced group will be better informed of the logistical difficulties in Hajj and how to remedy them based on previous years of experience.
4. Team. Well-trained tour guides are essential for any successful Hajj company. Ideally, the larger and more experienced the team is, the better your trip is going to be. Unfortunately, since 2013 the Saudi Government has limited the number of tour guides. The ratio of tour guides to pilgrims is 1:50.
Find out if the team members are fluent in English, Arabic or your native tongue. Are there qualified team members that can provide religious guidance? Do they have Saudi partners to ensure a good service? What service do they provide for the disabled? Formulate questions based on your needs as a pilgrim.
5. Development programme. Ensure that your Hajj company has a strong educational and development programme. This journey is a turning point in peoples’ lives. The reward for an accepted Hajj is nothing short of Paradise, and forgiveness for all sin. Thus, Ḥajj provides a ‘clean slate’ with which a Muslim can start over.
It is, therefore, imperative that anyone contemplating performing this Journey of a Lifetime makes the necessary effort to prepare for such an excursion.
Ask if the Hajj company will prep you before you fly out? If so, how? Do they have a development programme in place? Do they …
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asked a woman, “What kept you from performing Hajj with us?” She replied, “We only have two camels and the father of her son and her son had gone for Hajj on one camel, and he left us the other camel so that we could carry water on it”. He asked, “When Ramadan comes, go for ‘Umrah, for ‘Umrah in (that month) is equivalent (in reward) to Hajj.” Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.
The scholars differed concerning the one who attains the virtue mentioned in the hadith. There are three opinions:
1 – That this hadith applies only to the woman who was addressed by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
2 – That this virtue is attained by the one who intends to do Hajj but is unable to do it, then he makes up for it by doing ‘Umrah in Ramadan. For by combining the intention to do Hajj with performance of ‘Umrah in Ramadan, he attains the reward of doing a complete Hajj with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
3 – The view of the scholars of the four schools of thought and others, that the virtue mentioned in this hadith is general in meaning and applies to everyone who does ‘umrah in the month of Ramadan. ‘Umrah at that time is equivalent to Hajj for all people, not just for a few people or in certain circumstances.
The most correct of these opinions – and Allah knows best – is the last one, and the virtue is general in meaning and is attained by all those who do ‘umrah in Ramadan.