The journey of Hajj is indeed a blessed one, and it is a source of great rewards. However, at times, during the journey, many people undergo difficulties on account of their own mistakes or the mistakes of others. In such cases, people are affected to the extent that they lose the blessings of Hajj, and they deprive themselves from achieving its spiritual benefits. In order to protect one’s Hajj from losing its blessings and rewards, the following (few) guidelines are given:
1) The pilgrim must understand from the onset, that the journey of Hajj is not one of a vacation or for business. Instead, it is a journey which is undertaken to please Allah and to achieve Allah’s forgiveness for one’s sins. This is a very important point that must be understood from the time one leaves his home for the trip, until one returns home. Like any other travel, undertaking a journey is indeed a difficult task. In this regard, the Prophet (S.A) said, ‘Undertaking a journey is a part of a punishment’. (Muslim). That is, the difficulties undertaken seem as if they are a means of punishment.
For the Hajj, pilgrims undertake a journey to a foreign land and are required to adjust to new conditions. They are required to interact with thousands of other Muslims who have travelled for the same purpose. During the days of Hajj, there are huge crowds of people that the pilgrims become part of. All these and many more, bring about a type of difficulty and uneasiness that everyone must face. The pilgrim must therefore be prepared to bear these situations with patience, forbearance and firmness of intent.
Remember the Prophet (S.A) said, ‘The rewards for Hajj are achieved in accordance to the expenses and difficulties one has to bear’. (Bukhari)
It means that one’s rewards for Hajj increases to the extent of the difficulties one has to bear. In another hadith, the Prophet (S.A) referred to Hajj as a ‘Jihad’ for the women and the old people. (Tibrani)
So while preparing to undertake this holy trip, one should reflect on these traditions of the Prophet (S.A).
2) While setting out for the journey, one should take sufficient provisions (and a little extra) to the extent that his/her needs and necessities can be fulfilled. Provisions include money, medications (that one may need), clothing and other requirements that one may need. One must not travel with the intention of asking from others, or depending on the kindness of others.
Hajj only becomes compulsory upon those who have the means and provisions to undertake the trip. It therefore means, that those who are embarking on this pilgrimage are from among those who already have sufficient means and provisions. Hence, it will not be permissible to ‘beg’ or ‘ask’ for ‘things’ from others.
3) Pilgrims must remember that undertaking a journey is a great trial that tests their forbearance, sincerity and altruism. Therefore during the course of the journey, they must try their best to do everything on their own. They should not place the burden of doing ‘their work’ upon others.
If a mistake/error occurs from another group member, then a person should overlook it. If a travelling friend/companion is weak, then he/she should be assisted. If a person is sick, then one should visit him and try to look after him.
A pilgrim must abstain (totally) from backbiting, slandering or speaking ill of other group members.
4) On the Hajj journey, a person has no choice except to adjust himself to the changes that come upon him. He is not able to meet the same conveniences he had at home. The time of sleeping and awaking changes. He is not able to access the meals he is accustomed to. His sleeping accommodation also changes. Travelling for days and nights takes place which makes it difficult for the pilgrim. In all these states, one is required to be forbearing, and accept these changes with a willing and good heart for the sake of Allah.
5) Those who have different medical complaints should take their relevant medications with them, along with other important medicines.
6) During the Hajj journey, the pilgrim is sometimes confronted with a situation which makes him angry. At times, it is a matter of sleeping accommodation, sometimes it is about meals, and at times it is about not receiving the facilities one had paid for. Under these circumstances, although a person may become angry and upset, he/she must learn self-control, and while making the necessary demands, he/she must not allow a situation to reach the state of quarrels, arguments or fights. In cases of this nature, one should remember the words of the Prophet (SAS) in which he said, ‘The person who gives up quarrels and arguments although he is upon the truth, I give him the guarantee of a house in paradise’. (Abu Dawood)
7) Females who wish to undertake the pilgrimage, is reminded that they must be accompanied by their respective Mahram or husband. It is haram and sinful for a woman who has reached the age of puberty to go for Hajj without a Mahram. It is also haram and sinful for a woman to make a non-blood relative or stranger her ‘temporary Mahram’ for the journey. Women should be precautious in this matter, and must strictly adhere to the instruction of the Prophet (SAS) in which he said, ‘No woman must undertake a journey except with her Mahram’. Upon this a companion stood up and said, ‘O Prophet of Allah, my wife has gone for Hajj and my name has been written to go on such expedition’. Hearing this, the Prophet (SAS) said, ‘Proceed and perform hajj with your wife’. (Muslim)
8) During one’s stay in Makka and Madina, it is seen that many pilgrims waste their precious time in shopping and sight seeing. One must realize that the Holy Kaaba and the masjid of the Prophet (SAS) are the two holiest places on the face of the earth. Here, in these respected and sacred places, one should utilize one’s precious moments in the recitation of the Holy Quran, duas, dhikr, seeking forgiveness, and making repentance to Allah. Missing these moments is indeed losing the greatest opportunities of a lifetime, which cannot be regained in the future. Each pilgrim must therefore value his time on the sacred journey, and use it in the best possible manner so that he can truly obtain an accepted Hajj.
9) During the time of Tawaf (circumambulating around the Kaaba) and Sa’ee (movement between Safa and Marwa), pilgrims become seperated from their groups. In this state, they become scared and feel that they are lost. To alleviate this situation, a particular place or spot can be identified to the members of the group with the directive that all should meet at that place after Tawaf and Sa’ee. Members can also form themselves into smaller groups rather than large ones. This helps to minimize the chances of being lost or seperated from the group.
10) Before departing to Mina on the 8th of Zul Hijja, pilgrims can write the name of their Hajj group on a paper. They should also write the name of the place where they will be staying at Mina (on this paper) and keep it safeguarded. In case a person becomes separated from his/her group, then he/she can show the paper and ‘name’ to any of the officers, who can then help them connect with their group. The same can be done while staying in Makka and Madina. The pilgrim can document the name of the hotel and the number of the room on a paper and keep it with him. In case one is lost, he/she can show the name of the hotel to any officer, who would then guide the person to the hotel.
11) Those who wish to cook part of their Qurbani meat, should not do so in their tents at Mina. This is very dangerous, and one should refrain from doing so.
12) While walking to the Jamraat to throw the pebbles, the pilgrim should follow the guidelines which have been given by the relevant authorities. In doing so, one will save oneself from difficulties due to the large crowd.
Women can appoint their Mahram to throw the pebbles if they fear hardship upon themselves. The same can be done by the old, weak and feeble ones. They can appoint other members of the group to throw the pebbles if they fear harms upon themselves.
13) Pilgrims should try their best to learn about Hajj before embarking on this journey. They should learn the rituals that must be done, and the correct manner of doing these. They must also learn the duas that are to be recited at the different places, especially while making the Tawaf and Sa’ee. One must not depend on others to recite the duas.
14) Although a pilgrim may try his/her best to avoid difficulties, there are times that he/she may have to undergo trials and hardships. Many unexpected things occur, and one may encounter difficult experiences. Howbeit, one must not dwell on these matters and lose focus on what one has set out to accomplish. The pilgrim must therefore forbear these situations for the sake of Allah, and refrain from anything that may cause his Hajj to be ruined.
In addition, pilgrims should not speak repeatedly, of the difficulties and hardships they encountered, (after returning home). This behaviour causes the rewards of Hajj to be lost. Remember the Hadith of the Prophet (SAS) in which he said, ‘The harms or difficulties that touch a believer, Allah causes these to be a means of forgiving the believer’.(Tirmizi)
Upon returning home, one should thank Allah. He should praise and glorify Him for giving him the means, strength and health to accomplish this sacred pilgrimage.
Having undertaken this blessed journey which was a means of purifying and cleansing a person from sins, one should begin a new life in obedience to Allah and His Messenger (SAS).
Mufti Waseem Khan