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Practical tips for a fine Haj
Asma Bint Shameem
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 25 - 10 - 2010

Haj is the ‘ultimate' journey, the journey of a lifetime. Yet I've seen so many people, brothers and sisters, confused, angry, frustrated or just simply ignorant during Haj. So here is a piece of sincere advice for all of my brothers and sisters going for Haj this year.
n Educate yourself before you go
This is the most important point. They say “Knowledge is Power,” and it is. I've seen people confused, not knowing what to do, looking left and right, bewildered during Haj. In the end, they just follow what the rest of the crowd is doing without knowing if what they are doing is from the Shariah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) or not. Indeed, I know people who have gone and come back from Haj, and they didn't know what kind of Haj they performed, how many days one was required to stay in Mina, and so on. In fact, some didn't know it takes seven rounds around the Ka'ba to make one Tawaf!
Going to Haj without knowing the basics of how to perform Haj and Umrah is like placing someone who doesn't know how to offer Salah in the middle of a congregation. He may follow the movements in Ruku' and Sujood, but does he really know how to pray? Does such a prayer even count?
So, study the rituals of Haj before you go. Learn how to perform this magnificent journey in a manner that is closest to the Sunnah. Because the closer it is to the Sunnah, the more acceptable it will be to Allah. Learn about the common mistakes pilgrims do, so you can avoid them.
n Go with a prepared heart
Every year at Haj, you see only two kinds of people. The first kind will be sitting calm and patient, even when they are stuck for five hours in traffic, wisely utilizing the time making Dhikr of Allah or reading the Qur'an. The other kind will be grumbling and complaining, fidgeting restlessly in his seat, cussing at the bus driver and wasting his whole time fighting with whoever is sitting next to him.
Why is that? Because the first kind of people come with prepared hearts and the second type don't.
Haj is not a mere physical journey, it is a spiritual journey of the heart and soul. And just as it is important to learn the rituals of Haj, it is equally important to condition yourself spiritually. Remember, Haj is an act of worship, the fifth pillar of our Religion. So, have Khushoo' in it.
Trust Allah and have complete faith in Him. Be sure that He will take care of you. Be kind to others and have patience and forbearance.
n Funeral prayer
Hardly any obligatory prayer in the Haram is not followed by a funeral prayer. I've noticed several brothers and sisters sitting there and not participating in this great act of worship, just because they don't know how to. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever attends the Janazah until he offers the prayer will have one Qirat (of reward), and whoever attends until (the deceased) is buried will have two Qirats.” It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, what are the two Qirats?” He said, “Like two great mountains,” meaning, of reward. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
n Don't get overwhelmed
When you look at the large number of people there for Haj, don't get overwhelmed or disturbed. Instead, raise up your head high, feel proud and thank Allah. After all, all those people are none, but your own brothers and sisters in Islam. This is the Ummah of your beloved Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him). They belong to you and you belong to them. They are a part of you, just as much as you are a part of them. All of you are there for one and one purpose only – to worship Allah, the One God. So, love them, show mercy to them and make Du'a for them.
n Time is precious
Utilize your time to its maximum while in Makkah and Madina. Do all your prayers in the mosque. When you pray in the Grand Mosque in Makkah, the reward is multiplied by 100,000 times.
When you get to Mina, busy yourself with making Du'a, Dhikr, reading the Qur'an, etc. Your stay here is only a few precious days. You can't waste it by talking, relaxing, and doing nothing, as some people do.
And when you are in Arafah, know that that's the day you were waiting for. That's what Haj is all about. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Haj is Arafah.” (Abu Dawood)
Put in all you have got on the Day of Arafah. Take advantage of every second. Do not waste even a single moment. Make a Du'a list and do lots and lots of Du'a. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The best of Du'a is Du'a on the day of Arafah, and the best thing that I and the Prophets before me said is, ‘La ilaha ill-Allah Wahdahu la Shareeka lah (There is no god worthy of worship but Allah alone with no partner or associate).'” (Al-Tirmidhi, authenticated by Al-Albani)
n Not on vacation
Some people forget that they are going on Haj. They expect Mina to be a five star hotel. So they complain about food, weather, crowds, and just about everything.
Remember this is Haj, not a vacation. Remember, not so long ago people traveled for months through dangerous terrain and rough weather to perform Haj. If we think about that, then is there anything left to complain about?
n Don't just say it
When you recite the Talbiyah, don't just say it like a parrot without knowing what it means and what it implies. Think about the greatness of these words and the Magnificence of the One you are saying these words to.
n Haj Mabroor
Obviously, everybody wants their Haj to be ‘Mabroor' (accepted) because the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “There is no reward for Haj Mabroor except Paradise.” (Al-Bukhari)
They asked, “What makes Haj Mabroor, Messenger of Allah?” He replied, “Providing food to people and spreading (the greeting of) Salam (peace).” (Fath Al-Bari, 4/446)
Thus we see that being kind to people and serving and helping them leads to a Haj Mabroor.
So go ahead and help that old lady with her luggage and help someone else cross the street. Move over to make room in the row for your fellow Muslim so that he/she too can find a place to pray. Distribute candy among children, pass out glasses of Zamzam water, smile at everyone, and say Salam to those you know and those you don't.
Keep you eyes and ears open for every opportunity to do good and jump at any chance you get to spread Khair – all for the sake of Allah alone – and Insha Allah your Haj will be one of Mabroor.

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