How to undertake a successful Hajj
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent the Merciful
“…Whoever has made Hajj obligatory upon himself, there should be no sexual relations and no disobedience and no disputations during Hajj” (Q2:197)
UNFORTUNATELY dear brethren, the existence of a prohibition presupposes the possibility of its infraction. In other words, brethren, not all pilgrims who go on hajj usually respect this divine injunction. In fact, experience has shown that some embark on the journey in order to continue the life of perfidy and ignominy they were steeped in before the season of hajj; they board the plane to Saudi-Arabia (nay Saudi-America!) in order to be “free” to commit that which has been prohibited.
Thus dear pilgrim, once you arrive either Makkah or Madinah and each time you join millions to carry out one of the rituals of hajj, ensure you keep your personal belongings, your passport, your money and other prized possessions in a safe custody. Avoid the assumption that the next hajji (pilgrim) is as conscious of what has brought you all to the Haram as you are. In the “presence” of the Almighty, inside the Kaaba, inside the haram, prized possessions could be made away with; inside the holy Mosque of the Prophet people take possession of items that do not belong to them. O! How I wish they know some of the things we know- that the more you steal people’s properties the lighter their accounting and the heavier yours become on the day of reckoning.
Dear intending pilgrim! Try to avoid all acts of indecencies whether you are in the state of ihraam or not. Avoid fornication, adultery, lying, back-biting and fighting. Remember that to embark on this kind of journey is to venture into another one – the journey on the path of spiritual rebirth, the journey where your temperament would be tested and examine, a pathway where you would be lonely even amidst millions of other worshippers.
Thus be prepared to be pushed and pulled and expect no words of remorse from the other. Remember that to go on hajj is to be prepared to be tested in such ways you cannot imagine. Remember, dear sister, that it was in paradise that our progenitors, Prophet Adam and his wife, suffered tribulations. Thus make patience your watch-word. Hold your tongue from uttering evil statements. Guard your thought from being enslaved by shaytan.
Dear brethren, you need to keep the above in mind immediately you put on the Ihraam. The Ihraam is the two loose white garments which male pilgrims are expected to put on for both the hajj and the umrah exercise. Remember that the ihraam is not an ordinary garment. It is a signifier. It is a solemn reminder for its bearer of the nothingness of his destiny and destination in relation to the inimitable cosmic majesty of the Almighty. The ‘ihraam’ is also a leveler: it serves a deleterious purpose on all negative human proclivities such as pride and self-conceit. Thus the pilgrim who puts on the ihraam begins by looking at himself. He begins by presenting himself to himself before presenting himself to his creator. He proceeds to utter the talbiyyah- labaykaAllahuma labayka! Labayka la Sharikah laka labayka – I have answered your call O! My Lord… There is no deity worthy of worship except you. Once a pilgrim puts on the Ihraam in the miqaat and joins his fellow pilgrims on the pathway to the Kaaba to do the Umrah, he ceases to be an ordinary person. Rather, he becomes a very important personality (VIP)! Yes. He becomes as important as the pebble in the desert. Yes. She becomes as important as the drop of water in the ocean!
What an error it is for a pilgrim, therefore, to expect to be treated, revered and referred to as your Excellency while on hajj. When you answer Allah’s call to visit His house, the Haram, He expects you to negate all other ‘calls’. He desires that you conduct yourself as the footnote of existence.
Remember, dear Pilgrim, that you would need to move out to Mina on the seventh day of Dhul-Hijjah preparatory to the Arafah day which is the second obligatory aspect of Hajj. Remember what our Prophet said: “Hajj is the standing at ‘Arafah. If anyone comes over there before the Fajr Prayer on the night of Al-Muzdalifah, his Hajj will be complete.” It is the assemblage of Muslims on the same plain in which Muslims congregated in order to listen to the Prophet of Allah over a thousand years ago. Standing on this plain functions in connecting pilgrims with the inevitable; it seeks to reenact the ultimate. Standing on Arafah reminds the pilgrims of the day humanity would congregate in the presence of the Almighty in order to give account of its sojourn on earth.
From the plain of Arafah, you would proceed to Muzdalifah and from there to the Jamaraat where the effigies of Shaytan would be pelted. From the Jamaraat you would go back to the Kaaba to do Tawaf al-Ifadah and Sa‘y between Safa and Marwah (Qur’an 22:29). To neglect or fail to perform any of these rituals is to miss the hajj exercise completely. This is because neither sacrifice nor fasting can compensate for them. In addition to that, not to perform them in sequence and as laid down by the Prophet is to invalidate the hajj exercise entirely. Thus, ensure you begin by putting on the Ihraam, join your fellow pilgrims to stand at ‘Arafah, ensure you pass the night in Muzdalifah, pick small pebbles there, proceed to mount Aqabah to throw them at the effigies of Shaytan, proceed to the Kaaba for Tawaaf Al-Ifaadhah, do the Sa‘y between Safa and Marwah and shave your head (for males). Female pilgrims are required to cut just a fragment from their hair.
Now dear brethren, in the course of the last Umrah, I realized that some pilgrims put on the ihraam outside Saudi Arabia. I observed some pilgrims as they hasten to put on the Ihraam in Abu Dhabi. I imagine others could have done the same in Doha, Dubai or perhaps even in Nairobi. I would advise that you defer the ritual of putting on the ihram till your arrival to one of the designated stations between Madinah and Makkah.
Brethren, is your journey to Makkah for sight-seeing or tourism? I suppose not. One of the errors, and I know there are many, that some pilgrims fall into is to go about the rites of hajj with the camera on ‘the go”. I saw some pilgrims who, while doing the tawaf in the Kaaba were equally busy taking pictures of themselves. The same thing occurred during the Sa’y between Safa and Marwa. I asked my companion: would you take a picture of yourself while observing salat? Dear Pilgrim, taking pictures of oneself while doing Tawaf removes the spiritual connection the pilgrim should establish in that important moment with his creator.
The pilgrim who does that centers his cognition on the ephemeral not the eternal; he descends into playful revelry instead of being elevated into a spiritual sobriety. If you remove the music, dear brother, dancing is nothing but rehearsal for madness. (+234-8122465111 for text messages only)