This is the most important and dramatic event in a Muslim's life. Accordingly, you must prepare yourself for this holy journey. I would like to share with you few tips that might help ease some of the difficulties that you might encounter. Beforehand, I would like to extend my deepest appreciation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for consistently introducing new procedures, and implementing new plans to accommodate more visitors every year. My intention is simply to point out few ideas and not religious advice that you might want to consider, based upon my own experience and that of the group I was travelling with, during the year of 2001.
How to prepare for your Trip to perform Hajj / Umrah
1- Start preparing yourself after the month of Ramadan.
A) Read the story of the life of the Prophet Mohammed, Ibrahim and his son Ismael...peace be upon them all. Try to put yourself through that experience.
B) Get up at least once a week during the last hour of the night to pray asking God to facilitate your intention to perform the Hajj/Umrah.
C) Memorize the procedures necessary to perform Hajj/Umrah and try to watch a video that demonstrates those events.
D) Exercise; walk, run, bike, swim ...etc. Coming out of the month of Ramadan and into Hajj, you need to quickly get your body in shape. No matter how young you are your perseverance will be tested.
E) Memorize few Du'a. In other words, capitalize on the spiritual transformation you went through in Ramadan and sustain your momentum by preparing yourself physically and spiritually for Hajj.
2- Items you need during your stay in Mecca
a) Men should use a cream against rash. Use daily during the Ihram period.
b) Soap; Fragrance free and deodorant. Use the fragrance free during Ihram.
c) White umbrella
d) Underarm deodorant, fragrance free during Ihram
g) Nail scissors
j) Plastic slippers for the rest rooms
k) Alarm clock
l) Koran and Du'a pocket books
m) A phone calling card (for U.S.A. travelers)
n) A facemask to cover mouth and nose especially during Tawaf and Sa'yyi. The mask is good for no more than 30 minutes.
o) A cassette player! You will spend a long time in transit especially when en route to and from Mina and Mt Arafat. As you might get tired especially after a long day in Mt Arafat, and with the slow moving traffic, this could become useful to ease some of the tension by listening to Koran recitations, lectures and so on.
p) Medications :
Upset stomach medication
Anti diarrhea medication
Fever reducer and painkillers.
Antibiotics. A 5-10-day course for bacterial infections.
q) Toilet tissue paper. Rest rooms are only equipped with water hoses.
r) Money belt. During Ihram period, men travelling with a female are advised to have their partner carry the cash in their belt wrapped inside their clothes. Otherwise, men should wrap the belt around their waist. Refrain from carrying a lot of cash at one time.
s) Men are encouraged to wear Sandals during Ihram. Slippers might restrict your movement in a congested area.
t) Laundry detergent to wash clothes
v) Insulated water bottle. Fill it with Zamzam water before going to Mena and Mt Arafat.
w) During the days of Al Tashreeq, when stoning the three Jamarat, I recommend the following:
v Wear rugged clothing,
v Avoid wearing slippers
v Do not carry an umbrella
v Leave your wallet behind
v Count the Jamarat and have them ready, preferably in a pocket size bag, before getting there.
x) Avoid taking lots of clothing with you. Nevertheless, take enough underwear to minimize the time spent on washing.
z) During your time there, drink lots of water and eat a healthy meal. Increase your intake of carbohydrates since you're on the move a lot.
Your time in Mecca
1) Carry your sandals/shoes with you in a plastic bag when in Al Masjid Al-Haram. Do not leave on the shoe rack for you might forget where you have left them. Bring a prayer rug with you.
2) Try not to drink too much water before you start your Tawaf or Sa'yyi. You can make up for that at the end. Rest rooms are extremely congested.
3) Remember the gate number when you enter the Mosque. Look around you for landmarks that can guide you back. The King of Fahd gate is the most recent addition at this time and that section is air-conditioned.
4) Try to perform 'Umrah late in the evening 2 hours before Al-Fajr prayer. Least congested.
5) Don't exit right after the jama'h prayer at the Al Haram mosque. Wait at least 15 minutes to avoid the crowds.
6) Most tours when departing Mt Arafat, travel directly to Mena to throw Al-Jamrah Alkubrah, others stop briefly at Al-Musdalifah then continue to Mena while others spend the night or part of it at Al-Musdalifah and then continue to Mena. If at all possible, after leaving Mt Arafat, spend the night at Al Muzdalifah, pray Fajr, then go directly to the Ka'ba and 1-perform Tawaf Al Ifadah. 2-shave/cut your hair, 3-pay for the slaughter, if applicable, 4-change your Ihram clothes and wait for the evening, 5- to throw Al Jamrah Al Kubrah. This is a good way to avoid the crowd.
7) Consider the second or third level of AL-Haram Mosque when performing Tawaf Al Ifadah and Al Wada'. 'During Tawaf at the main level, try to move to your right as you approach the black line that runs across from the black stone to a nearby green light hanging on the wall. Also, carry with you a pocket Koran and a Du'a pocket book during Tawaf and Sa'yyi.
8) Consider the second level when performing Sa'yyi especially if you have a shortness of breadth.
9) Men who choose to shave all their hair with a razor are encouraged to go to a professional salon to avoid unnecessary cuts to the head. A new packaged sealed razor should be used. A haircut using scissors can be performed on a street corner.
10) During the days of Al Tashreeq, try to stone Al Jamarat during the evening. Once there, it is best to take the second level. When approaching Aljamarat avoid walking straight across towards them. Instead, bear to the right or left, approach at an angle, as it's less crowded. It is very dangerous to bend over and collect jamarat from that area. When performing Du'a between the Jamarat stations try to move to the far side to avoid the heavy traffic.
11) Arrive at least one hour before the Friday noon prayer at Al Masjid Al Haram. Otherwise, you can pray at other local mosques and with God's willing earn the same reward. The Friday prayer period preceding the day of Arafat is one of the most congested times at Al Masjid Al Haram.
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