I went to hajj in 2017. As most hajji’s will tell you, the pilgrimage is one of the most amazing and memorable experiences a Muslim can accomplish in their lifetime. It’s also quite challenging, and it will push you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The best thing for future hajji’s to do is to prepare well in all these aspects.
Every year we equip many customers with the appropriate clothes, books and accessories for hajj/umrah (find some of them here, we've got more in store). During my shifts, I love to give extra tips to our customers that I learnt from my own experience at hajj. You probably won’t find these in your usual books or lectures. Let’s just call them…
Anisa’s Hajj Hacks!
- Don’t enter hajj confused: Make sure you understand each step of hajj (read this book) and don’t rely too much on following your organisers as you may become lost or separated.
- Get used to walking long distances: The walk from your tent in Mina to the jamarat (the stoning wall) is very, very long. Combined with the soaring midday heat, even the fittest of us were tired by the end of it. So start exercising and walking now in preparation.
During the hajj
- Don’t talk too much: Now is not the time to socialise and looking back, I feel I wasted too much time chatting with others. That can wait till after hajj. Instead, bring a book or read the Qur’an.
- You don’t need your phone: Aside from letting your family know that you’re safe, keep technology to a minimum, and cut out social media completely. You can tell them about your adventures when you get back.
- Take electrolyte: This will help you deal dehydration and fluid loss due to the heat and excessive sweating.
- Wear thin cotton socks at all times. The ground gets dirty & dusty.
- Try to avoid the toilets: It’s estimated that there is one toilet for every 200 people and it’s quite literally a hole in the ground. They WILL be dirty. You will inevitably have to use them, but this is what I did to reduce the need to frequent the toilets:
- Eat minimally during the hajj: Your organisers will most likely provide you with meals during Mina, Arafah & Muzdalifah. Don’t eat all of it, just eat enough to get you through each day. I ate half of the meals by sharing them with a friend, and kept snacks and drinks (except water) to a minimum.
- If you need to use the toilet, the best time to go is when everyone is eating or way before Fajr. The lines are long at every other time of the day.
- Bring a thin S hook, a plastic bag and cheap plastic sandals to the toilet. There are no hooks in the toilet to hang your things on, except for the door latch. So place the S hook onto the door latch, hook the plastic bag onto your S hook and put all your things in your plastic bag. Use these cheap sandals only for the toilet so your usual shoes don’t have to get dirty.
- The bathrooms in Muzdalifah were too crowded and dirty to use. So use the bathrooms and make wudhu at Arafah beforehand. Bring a bottle of water to Muzdalifah for making wudhu for Fajr the next morning.
Tawaf & sa’ee:
- You want to avoid the heat and the crowds, so the best time to do both is after fajr or after Isha. Don’t do it during the day as it gets really hot and don’t do it between prayers as that’s when it’s the most crowded.
- It’s quicker to do tawaf on the 3rd or highest floor. The ground floor gets crowded very quickly.
- Wear thick socks during the sa’ee as your feet might get sore against the hard floor.
- Try to go before Dhuhr or after Isha. It is very hot and/or crowded at all other times.
Many hajji’s visit Makkah and Madinah before or after hajj
- You might have a few days between finishing hajj and going to Makkah/Madinah. You'll be tempted to go to the haram on these days but it's better to just rest. You'll be tired after hajj and your body needs to recover. If you push yourself too hard, you'll get burnt out, sick, or be super tired coming back home. This happened to most of my group. I didn't rest enough after my hajj, became sick and needed to rest a lot in my hotel in Makkah when I could have spent that time in the haram. Don't make the same mistake!
- You’ll need to get there 1-2 hours before prayer time to get a good spot in the haram.
- Try to stay in the haram between Dhuhr-Asr and Maghrib-Isha. The timing is short in between and if you leave you might not get back in.
- Always make wudhu and use the toilet before entering the haram. If you have to leave your spot to use the bathroom, you might not be able to enter again.
- Jum’ah is the most crowded prayer, so get there at least 2-3 hours before or stay in the haram after Fajr.
- The coolest spot to pray is in the sa’ee area or the newly built areas that should have air-conditioning.
- Try to take a nap in Masjid Nabawi between Dhuhr-Asr, it’ll be the sweetest nap of your life!
- You’ll see imams and teachers sitting around the haram. Go to them to listen to their talk or to get your Qur’an recitation checked (you’re probably making more mistakes than you realise 😬).
- There’s a tour bus that goes to all the significant spots in Madinah: Mt Uhud, Masjid Qiblatain, Masjid Quba and so on. It’s worth taking it and seeing the seerah of the Prophet (PBUH) and the sahabah come to life before your eyes! Try taking it after Fajr or after Isha so you can still make your prayers in Masjid Nabawi
- Sisters entering the rawdah: There will be set times for sisters to enter the rawdah. Try the one that’s after Isha, all the others were almost impossible to get into. It’s chaos inside and there’ll be alot of pushing and screaming as everyone is trying to get in- don’t do that. Go with a group of 4-5, wiggle your way through but always be polite. It’s only the first 2 rows that is described as the gardens of Jannah, not the entire room. Once you get all the way to the front, get your friend to stand right behind you and shield you from all the chaos around you. Don’t do more than 2 rak’at as everyone else is waiting for their turn. Then switch roles with your friend.
I hope my advice will help you on this journey of a lifetime. Do let me know if you used any of these tips!
Keep us in your dua's while you're there :)
- Director of EMAAN