It’s an amazing feeling to say that Alhamdulillah, I have performed Hajj and Umrah this year. It was a two-and-a-half-week trip. Time passed away pretty quickly and I only managed to do the obligatory rituals. On this holy journey, I had a variety of experiences to share. I learned a lot of new ways of doing simple things. I don’t want to make this whole experience sound like planning a holiday trip but I want to take you on a spiritual journey. An odyssey of a lifetime that transforms you and transfers you to a completely different realm.
There is a lot of information on how to do hajj/ umrah. You will find loads of books and online material that explain how hajj/umrah is performed. When I started my search I found all the steps of the hajj procedure but I was unable to find any comprehensive resource that could answer my queries as to how it feels to be when you are standing for the first time in front of the holy Kaaba. I wanted to get to know all those emotional aspects too. This is another reason for sharing my hajj travelogue with you.
I will discuss the planning and preparations for hajj umrah in another post. This one is only about my Hajj sentiments and how Hajj affected me.
My husband and I were planning for hajj for the past couple of years. We had a number of operational issues which we were trying hard to overcome and do this religious obligation as soon as possible. We spent so much on worldly stuff, but as one thinks of the holy pilgrimage all the ifs and buts come in your way. I did not want anything to stop me now apart from the issues which were beyond my capacity. It’s said that if you have a pure intention Allah makes your way.
The beautiful day came when my husband told me that we have got a place with a Hajj tours group. That was the happiest day of my life. All the things started to happen rightly on their own, Alhamdulillah!!
How to perform hajj tamattu step by step
It’s been more than 4 months since I did Hajj. Today is the last day of the year 2019 and I completed this post today to celebrate the New Year 2020. Performing Hajj was the most memorable event of my life.
18 Days Hajj Odyssey
Hajj is indeed a very laborious religious duty. You may think that I have used an inappropriate word for this holy journey. But in reality, it’s a great test of your patience and endurance both physically and mentally. Therefore you need to have a fit body to perform your hajj in its true spirit.
The same goes for Umrah. There are a few rituals of Hajj that differentiate Hajj from Umrah, the rest is all the same. Although Hajj is on a much grand scale and can be done only once a year Umrah can be performed all around the year.
Start eating healthy. Build your stamina. Train yourself to overcome any kind of unpleasant scenario. Because you are going to face a lot of things that would be beyond your control.
Once you are in a state of Ihram you are forbidden to criticize or judge anyone or anything. Here I would like to add my personal experience. Even though we were part of a reputable travel company, we had to deal with a number of things that even the group organizers were unable to sort out.
Arrival At Jeddah Airport
At the time of arrival at the Jeddah Airport, everything went smoothly. There were no crowds at the immigration counters. The Saudi Hajj staff very diligently did their job. Everyone got their luggage but my suitcase didn’t arrive. We (my husband and I) waited for a long time. Our group went outside they started offering the Zuhr prayers. At that time the only thing that came to my mind was that I must not panic, Allah is testing my patience. My husband filed a complaint and we moved out. Later on after 2 days, I got my suitcase. Which surprised everyone. I managed well in those two days because I had already shifted a couple of my dresses in my husband’s suitcase while packing our stuff. So never keep your things in one bag. Distribute your essential items in two places.
After offering the prayers we sat in big air-conditioned buses to head to the Meeqat. We were offered lunch boxes. The Saudi Hajj staff took 2 hours to come and we sat in the buses waiting for them as we couldn’t move without their permission. They had to check everyone by their passport. They took our passports and gave us back at the time of our departure from Saudi.
We came across so many such incidents where no one could do anything. We were left with no choice but just to go with the flow. That makes Hajj a test of all aspects of being a good Muslim.
To Miqat Al Juhfah
Miqat is a point before which the pilgrims have to wear Ihram and only then can enter Makkah. Meeqat means “a designated place”. Whoever is coming for Hajj or Umrah from anywhere in the world, must wear Ihram at meeqat. There are five locations of meeqat. We headed towards Juhfah
Al-Juhfah is located 182 kilometers (113 miles) northwest of Mecca. From Jeddah airport, it took us around 3 hours to reach Juhfah. It’s a well-established facility. There are spacious bathrooms and large prayer courts for both men and women. A beautiful mosque awaits the hajis at this meeqat point. Ghadir Khumm is near this place.
Everyone took a bath and wore Ihram. That time the heartwarming chanting of the Talbiyah reverberated throughout the Mosque.
We offered prayers and then headed to our hotels to take some rest before doing Umrah. We reached the hotel quite late near the fajr prayers. The whole journey took around 22 hours altogether.
First Sight Of Kaaba
Due to some logistic issues, we couldn’t perform the Umrah right away so we waited till evening and then by midnight, we finished the whole Umrah. It was quite an overwhelming feeling. The first sight of the holy Kaaba was just incredible. You simply just don’t believe your eyes that you in reality are so close to the house of Allah. In complete disbelief, I was trying to capture the whole view of Kaaba with my eyes wide open.
Kaaba has magnetic powers. You simply want to look at it again and again. You just cannot take your eyes off the holy Kaaba when you are in Masjid al-Haram. Maybe that is one of the reasons that gazing at the Kaaba is also Ibaadat. A true sense of happiness used to engulf me every time I looked at it. I couldn’t believe myself standing in front of the Kaaba. One simply cannot describe his/her emotions. The feelings are out of this world kind of. Before coming, I had so many prayers in my mind that I will ask Allah once I see Kaaba; but when I reached the mataf area and saw Kaaba for the first time I forgot what to pray for. I was awestruck and speechless and the only thing I remembered was to thank Allah for His infinite mercy that He blessed me to visit His House. May Allah bless you with this feeling soon and you all visit the Holy Kaaba.
Masjid Al Haram
Masjid al-Haram is a huge complex. It has so many entrances and exits that it’s very easy for you to get lost. The tip here is that always remember the gate with which you entered. Take a picture of that place. If you are accompanied by a group then it will be more easy for you to navigate around the mosque with your fellow hajjis.
Do’s and Don’ts of Hajj
The masjid courtyards get crowded around prayer times and you won’t be able to find a proper place. It’s better to come half an hour before the prayer time. That way you will be able to get yourself a decent place and do not have to panic in the crowds.
It’s preferable to do the tawaf during the evening times or at nighttime. This way you will save yourself from sun heat exposure. It’s very hot in Makkah from May to October. This year Hajj came in August and the usual temperature was between 40 to 50 degrees. Therefore it is not advisable to exhaust yourself even before the actual Hajj days. So take good care of yourself. Do not push anyone and also do not let yourself fall into any trouble.
Also, do not go for tawaf right before and after any prayers. It’s the time when there is a maximum number of people in the mosque. Please refrain from pushing people to reach the Hajr e Aswad. If you think that it’s difficult for you to get to Hajr e Aswad then simply do the Istelam which is equivalent to actually kissing it and giving it salaam. I also did Istelam as I find it very inappropriate to get to the Hajr e Aswad while pushing and shoving through namehram men. Try not to hurt anyone during performing tawaf. Be helpful to others in any way possible.
Keep a water bottle with you. You can fill it with Zamzam anytime and keep yourself hydrated. Another tip for Masjid al-Haram is that keep a small bag for your shoes and keep it with you. The mosque staff keeps changing the exit and entry doors so if you have your shoes with you, you will save yourself from a lot of hassle.
Hajj Days – Stages of Hajj
During the five days of hajj, the number of people is beyond your calculations. In that particular time stay close to your group. Keep all your ID cards with you all the time. You must know your Maktab number and address. You must know your hotel location. Eat well and sleep whenever you can.
The day of Arafah (the most important day of Hajj) arrived. We slept in a tent there the night before the big day. Unfortunately, I had a sore throat, but I survived with Allah’s help and with some natural remedies.
We stayed at Arafah until the evening. My throat was aching and the bathrooms were difficult to use. Allah’s mercy gave me enough courage to deal with all the extremities. I remembered the hadith about Allah being proud of His “disheveled servants” on Arafah Day:
Verily Allah boasts of the people of ‘Arafah to the people of heaven (the angels) saying: “Look at my servants who have come to me disheveled and dusty,” and He remains in that state until the sun sets.
The Molana sahab accompanying our group said such a heart-touching dua on Arafah Day that everyone was crying. We all hugged each other and it was ecstatic. A few minutes later, it started to rain outside! It rained so heavily and everyone felt it was a sign of Allah’s mercy.
Staying at Mina is one of the memorable times of your hajj. Frankly speaking, it is the actual test of your patience. First, we went to Muzdalifah and then reached Mina to stone the first Jamarat (stone pillar representing the devil). I had never walked so much in my life. I thought I couldn’t do it, but Allah gave me energy.
Mina humbles you down. It is one of the best times of your Hajj days to seek closeness to Allah. Try not to indulge in useless debates and discussions but do tasbeehat and recite the Holy Quran. Pray for yourself, pray for your children, relatives, parents, and your loved ones who are no longer with you in this world.
The bathrooms provided here were much cleaner than the ones we saw in Arafat. The accommodation provided here was very basic type even though we were told that its A category. Our tents were very close to the Jamarat complex. Still, we walked a lot. Prepare yourself for walking extensively. Wear comfortable shoes. Keep an extra pair of dresses with you at Mina.
The most crucial day is when you do the Rami Jamarat, the stoning of the devils. It is best advised to go in the early morning around 6 to 8 AM, there is no rush at this time and you can stone the Shetan very comfortably.
Tawaf e Ziarat
Tawaf e ziarat is performed after Rami, sacrifice, and shaving off hair or clipping nails (Halaq and Taqsir) It must be performed before the sunset of the 12th of Zil Hijjah. Therefore be conscious of the time period. This is the most exhausting day physically and mentally. We left Mina for Ziarat e Makkah late in the night. As it is obligatory that you cannot leave the Mina boundary before midnight. So we started walking towards Mecca after 12 at night. As we reached Masjid al-Haram it was around 2 AM. We finished all the rites of ziarat e Mecca just before the Fajr prayers and then after the Fajr prayers we did Tawaf un nisa. By the end of this whole activity, I was dead tired physically but very happy that I finally accomplished a milestone in my life. We reached the back hotel at 8 o’clock in the morning. We congratulated each other. Everyone seemed so exhausted but gratified.
Tawaf Un Nisa
According to the Shia school of thought Tawaf un Nisa is the last act of Hajj/Umrah after that your Hajj/Umrah is complete. It consists of the same. 7 rounds of the Kaaba and two rakat prayers behind the Maqam e Ibrahim. It is done after performing Sai of Tawaf e ziarat.
Tawaf al Wida
Tawaf al-wida or the farewell tawaf which is performed when returning back from Mecca is mustahabb amal. Tawaf e Kaaba is the most rewarding activity at the Masjid al-Haram. So how was it possible that we leave Makkah without doing the Tawaf al wida? While doing the tawaf I prayed for the acceptance of my Hajj. I prayed that Allah blesses me with another Ziarat of the Holy Kaaba. It was such a sad feeling to leave the Holy Kaaba.
We packed our bags and now we had to leave for Madinah. Every one of our Hajj mates was happy and sad at the same time. Happy for going to do the Ziarat of Rasool Allah Peace Be Upon Him and sad to leave the Holy Kaaba. I will write about Madina Ziyarat in my other post soon. I recalled all my Hajj experiences while writing this post and enjoyed it. I hope you will also love reading it. Feel free to ask any questions that you come across in the comments section under this blog post.