Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Message for Friday - The practical do's and don'ts at Hajj

Like the advice that I gave at the beginning of Ramadan, I would like to do the same regarding Hajj, pilgrimage to Makkah, for those who are going this year or plan to go in the near future. This will be practical advice, not fiqhi (jurisprudence) advice.

*Visiting Al-Madinah*
Many pilgrims visit Al-Madinah either before going to Makkah for Hajj or afterwards. If visiting Al-Madinah before making Hajj, I suggest getting maximum rest.

Shopping for items will be cheaper in Al-Madinah than in Makkah, so forego buying items in Makkah as much as possible.

Bring toliet paper with you. The public bathrooms are traditional (i.e. a whole in the floor and a hose for istinja). Sanitary hand wipes or anti-bacterial lotion will be needed as well.

Don't drink the fountain drinks at the KFC! The water used at the fast-food spots is NOT Zamzam. You may get "Montezuma's Revenge."

Shi'i brothers & sisters! Avoid drama with the security forces outside of Al-Baqee', the graveyard across from the Prophet's masjid. Pressing the issue of saying the "Ziyarah" upon Ahl Al-Bayt at the graveyard once you've been told to clear the area may cause you to get your head cracked open. The same applies to Sufi brothers & sisters who wish to congregate close by Al-Masjid An-Nabawi and say du'a as a group or attempt to make dhirk in a circle. Save that for your tent in Mina.

Beware of the beggers that come out of the woodworks. The beggers that you see do not live there. Most of them come there to beg. Part of having a valid pilgrimage is that one brings enough provisions without needing to take a loan or beg.

Try to pray 2 units at the Rawdah prior to Fajr prayer. It will be too crowded later on in the day. Some brothers act like they're camping out there; they don't want to leave!

When greeting the Prophet (SAAS) while walking in front of the area of his grave, keep your hands down. Don't try to salute him or stick your hands up in du'a. You may get hit by a club from Saudi security.

*Visiting Makkah*
Before going into the haram, use the restroom at your hotel and make wud'u there. You do not want to go through the hassle of leaving your rituals to use the restroom and renew your taharah at the Sacred Mosque!

Take a plastic bag to put your sandals in and carry them with you into the masjid. Otherwise, someone will take your sandals by mistake, and you'll be barefoot walking the streets of Makkah until you get to a shop that sells sandals.

Keep a money belt on you, and have it underneath your garments. People will STEAL!

Brothers, walk closely behind your wives while making Tawaaf and Sa'iy. You'll have to guard them from possible perverts.

Get to the masjid about one hour prior to prayer time if you want to make it on the ground level.

Take the time out in between prayers to strike up conversations with others from different countries. You'll learn a lot, insha'ALLAH, and it will give a greater spiritual dimension to your pilgrimage. I found the pilgrims from Senegal and Sudan to be the most pleasant.

Remember to keep your cool, and do not get angry! Most of the people there are highly civilized. However, if even 1% of 2 million pilgrims act a fool, those 20,000 can make life extremely difficult. In particular, some Gulf Arabs refer to black people as `abeed (slave) in a matter of fact manner. Don't cuss them out, or fight with them.

*Visiting Mina*
Let your travel group leaders do the jockeying in regards to securing your tent. It's not uncommon that some group from another sector may come to "house" the tent that you were suppose to be in.

Walk to the South Asian sector for hot tea in the morning; it's good. :)

Try to shower before Fajr. Thousands of people use those showers afterwards, and it can become flat out nasty.

*Visiting Arafat*
In between making du'a and listening to lecture, take a little nap. You'll need it.

Beware of the speaker, who will come to your tent giving a speak about how they're trying to raise money for a Qur'an school in Afghanistan or Pakistan. It's a scam.

*Visiting Muzdalifah*
Collect your stones for the next 3 days of stoning the symbolic devils as soon as you get there. Do not sit down and tell yourself that you're going to take a short rest before collecting your stones.

Have a sleeping bag with you. It will feel cold out there at night while you're sleeping on hard earth without a tent over your head.

Make Fajr prayer as close to your bus as you can, so you can jump on and beat the traffic jam!

*Regarding stoning*
Beware of the Indonesian sister groups! They flock together in the dozens and thrown their stones as if they are literally stoning the devil! :)

Do not attempt to bring any bags with you on the last day of stoning.

Brothers who are old, sick or weak should stone at night with the sisters instead of going after Thuhr prayer. I know this is a fiqhi issue. :) In the Ja'fari school of thought, it is permissible for men to stone at night irrespective of their age or health condition.

Hajj is a wonderful experience. You should, however, realize that Saudi Arabia during Hajj season is far from a utopia. Stay alert, and you should be fine, insha'ALLAH.

1 comment:

Mohamed Abbass said...

Asalaamu alaykum Brother Dawud,
Thank you so much for the informative and beneficial advice about hajj. My brother and many of my relatives are going this year and I forwarded that information to them. Thank you also for always working to unite the brothers from different mathahib. May Allah bless you.