The hajj is the movement through the realm of the spirit. The tawaf is not a body encircling, but a mind and spirit spiraling towards the All Centre –Allah. Some realize that they are in the very sight of Allah when they land in Makkah or when they see the minarets of the Haram from a far. Others who prepare for the Pilgrimage, the way it is meant to be prepared, move into their ‘contemplative zone’ way before their feet touch Saudi soil. The goal of this journey is not to fuss over worldly matters but to achieve enlightenment, forgiveness and spiritual composure from performing the hajj.
Detach yourself from trivial gain
Once we have intended to go to perform the Hajj, we should begin detaching ourselves from the shuffle of our previous lives. Begin to speak less and calculate our words. Know that Allah might forgive the discrepancies towards Him but He cannot forgive the sin of breaking the heart of another Muslim unless that Muslim forgives you plainly. A Muslim is a man who does not harm other Muslim by his tongue or hands. Begin this healing process. Some even begin to eat less or eat very healthy, so that their bodies begin to detox and cleanse out the harmful oxidants away. Others gradually leave watching television or playing games, so that when Allah wants to speak to them, their minds are silent, still and quiet to hear His call completely.
Spend more time at in Dua after prayer
Our Prophet Muhammad said that “Dua is the essence of worship” [Sahih Bukhari]. Without a perfect dua, our worship is a mindless impersonal collection of body gestures. By spending more time in dua, we will begin to perfect it, know what we want from ourselves and our lives. We will realize that our Allah is gazing on us when we make dua and asking dua with devotion will become second nature to us. A dua is not a one-way beacon; it is a complete conversation with our Allah. So, we need to build the habit of talking to him, when we need him most.
Take the chaos of the world and give back peace
Identify the things that make you tick, or restless or angry. Make it a cathartic experiment and check why they are so annoying. If there is heavy traffic and you want to drive your car through, over the jam so that you get to the office on time, know that this annoyance is caused by ourselves. Had we not been snoozing or taking our sweet time doing irrelevant stuff in the morning, our blood pressure would have been low and we’d be on time at the office. There is traffic all the time in rush hours and will be there even after we perform the Hajj. We are the ones who need to change. If you experience a sexist, a racist or bigoted behavior of people around you, engage with them, try to clear their misunderstandings, feel the neglect or hate they have felt to have such a response and settle the matter, or retrospectively make your peace with it, to the point that it does not rattle your mind anymore.
Hajji time out
This is a spiritual journey, that displaces us physically and elevates us spiritually. While we will not be worrying about our previously low spiritual state once you arrive in Saudi Arabia, we might still get calls from home dragging us back from the metaphysical to the physical. Inform your loved ones about your well-being and the air travel, but don’t go into the details of their life routines while you are busy with the Hajj. While preparing for the Holy Journey, share where you put the spare car/house keys, how many spoons of detergent are enough for one wash cycle or who to call when the lights are out with the family you are leaving behind so that they do not disturb you and suck you in with the flow of their lives while you are busy trying to float in the grace of Allah.
KYH-know Your Hajj
Master the rules and rites of the hajj and take classes or research to find out their meaning and significance. Most Muslims already know, but a refresher course might expose you to new information and a religious environment of like-minded people going to the Hajj with you. Talk to you mosque’s Imam and ask him to check your pronunciation of the Arabic verses that you recite frequently in your prayers. Again, check if you understand the meaning of those verses. Make the Hajj not an exercise but a prayer from the heart.
Gifts and souvenirs
Don’t waste precious time in buying gifts for your family. Select one day, and get the praying mats, rosaries, praying caps and a few modest dresses for your extended family. This is a requirement for some, and for others just a good gesture to bring gifts for the family after the trip, but the greatest gift is being in the ihram and worshiping Allah in the purest state. Do not belittle your Hajj by ceaselessly roaming the streets and worrying what would be most appropriate to buy for a certain someone. The best thing your family members would receive would be a flawless hajji whose Hajj would be accepted in the realms of Allah because of his sincere devotion.
From now until coming back from the hajj, give charity and alms to those in the Muslim community who deserve a helping hand. Apart from gaining the good favor of Allah, charity makes you relate to the rest of humanity. You begin to understand the plight of Humanity and begin to understand the Surah Asr of the Quran.[Al Asr, 1-3] By the Time! Man is surely in loss, except those who believed and did good works, and exhorted one another to Truth and exhorted one another to patience.
Indeed man is at a sheer loss. But if we stand together, tightening the bonds between our brethren we can lift those losses, and appreciate the spirit of Allah in each other.