Tag Archives: prepare

Health Guidelines For Hajj And Umrah

The more physically fit you are, the easier it would become to perform the many rituals associated with Hajj and Umrah. If you have decided to perform a walking Hajj, then it would be very important for you to be as fit as possible. This will require walking as much as possible, starting about 6 to 8 weeks before departure, walking greater and greater distances as the time of departure arrives….
The performance of Hajj is obligatory on all adult Muslims who have the means to make the trip to the Holy City of Makkah. Umrah is regarded as a minor pilgrimage with only part of the required rituals performed. Whosoever enters the Mi’qaat (boundary of the Holy Land) has to perform Umrah, which includes Tawaaf (seven circuits around the Holy Kabah) and Sa’i (seven times between Mount Safa and Mount Murwa).

Good health makes it easier not only to enjoy Hajj and Umrah in the pleasure of Allah Subahanahu Wata’ala but also to make maximum use of the opportunity to make as much ibadah as possible.

Health plays a major role in fulfilling the requirements of Hajj and Umrah as Hajj and Umrah can be physically demanding depending on circumstances prevailing at the time.

The following is a guideline and must be accompanied by your own Doctor’s advice pertaining to your own health needs.

PHYSICAL FITNESS
The more physically fit you are, the easier it would become to perform the many rituals associated with Hajj and Umrah. If you have decided to perform a walking Hajj, then it would be very important for you to be as fit as possible. This will require walking as much as possible, starting about 6 to 8 weeks before departure, walking greater and greater distances as the time of departure arrives.

A brisk walk for about an hour three times a week would be sufficient to prepare for a walking Hajj. During Hajj and Umrah, the footwear for men is specified in that the high arch on the top of the foot needs to be exposed. The sandles or slippers that are used need to be broken-in well before Hajj and Umrah. Using your new sandles well before departure helps to make the feet accustomed to the footwear. Women may wear any comfortable footwear. Total distance to walk – approximately 10 – 12 kilometres to Arafat and 10 – 12 Kilometres back to Makkah.

Men are not allowed to cover their heads during Hajj and Umrah. Furthermore, in the case of Hajj, men may have shaven their heads recently from the performance of Umrah. It would therefore be advisable to expose the head to the sun whilst exercising before departure so that the head (scalp and face) and neck can become accustomed to the sun. This can also be done in Saudi Arabia before Hajj starts.

The sooner exercise is started, the better. For those who can, brisk walking, stationary cycling, swimming, etc. would be excellent forms of exercise. Even if one is not performing a walking Hajj, these exercises will help tremendously.

Tawaf – approximately 200 metres to 2 kilometers depending on the crowd present and where it is performed, e.g., 1st floor of the Haram.

Sai (Safa – Marwa) – approximately 3.5 kilometers.

Rasulallah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallum often spoke of the importance of physical fitness in general.

Physical fitness is therefore very important.

CLIMATE IN SAUDI ARABIA
Jeddah is on the coast of the Red Sea and therefore enjoys a slightly humid climate in summer. It becomes less humid in winter.

Makkah is about 70 kilometers inland. It has an escarpment around it. One of the most famous sources of drinking water is from the Holy well of Zam Zam . There is very little vegetation in and around Makkah due to the low rainfall. The Great Arabian Desert is all around Makkah. The climate is dry. Temperatures are extremely high, usually in the forty degree Celsius range and sometimes going into the fifties in summer.

Medina is situated about 500 kilometers north and is about 150 kilometers from the coast. It is a large oasis with the Great Arabian Desert all around it. Because of the numerous wells providing excellent water, it has date orchards spreading out on to the outskirts of the city. The climate is dry and hot, the temperatures not reaching as high as in Makkah. In winter, it can become cool to cold especially around Tahadjud and Fajr times.

DRINKING WATER
Water obtained from bore holes is brought to the hotels in tankers. Water is stored in huge tanks on the top of hotels.

Drinking water has to be bought in the form of bottled water. However, Zam Zam is available freely in Makkah and in Medina. Since this is an opportunity to drink as much Zam Zam water as possible, plastic containers easily obtainable can be filled with Zam Zam water and brought to the room.

Because of the hot weather conditions, it becomes necessary to drink water in abundance. Less urine is passed due to the hot conditions. The body conserves water by concentrating the urine. It is not good to pass very concentrated urine for a variety of reasons. Drink enough water so that the urine is clear. Passing clear urine indicates good hydration.

Drinking brackish water can causes a sore throat, stomach cramps and a cough from the irritation in the throat. The sore throat can be confused with a throat infection. Zam Zam water is abundantly available in both the Haramain. Zam Zam water is also available from taps outside the Haram Shareef. Plastic containers may be purchased outside the Haram Shareef, either empty or full of Zam Zam water. Zam Zam water that is available in storage containers in the Harram Shareef is cooled in cooling chambers. Ice is not added to the Zam Zam water. Every group of Zam Zam water containers in the Haram has one container that does not have cooled water. Arabic writing on the container would indicate which container has Zam Zam water that is not cooled.

Although the authorities provide disposable cups for drinking Zam Zam in the Haram, people unfamiliar with this practice often mix the used cups with the unused ones resulting in confusion. If one is unsure, rinse out the cup well before use. It is through the sharing of cups that infections can spread from one pilgrim to another. People come from all parts of the world with different hygienic control. What one may find offensive may be quite normal for another. The important thing to do is to avoid picking up infections from this source.

The Hajj authorities in Saudi Arabia do an excellent job of keeping the Zam Zam water area and containers as clean as possible. Clean drinking cups are always available. Despite hundreds of thousands of people going through the Harram, the authorities keep the facilities exceptionally clean.

Drink adequate amounts of fluids especially water throughout your stay.

CONTROL OF EXISTING HEALTH PROBLEMS
It is very important for anyone who takes regular medications to have enough supplies available for use during their stay in the Holy land.

Medications are available from Pharmacies. Please take a prescription from your doctor with you in case your medication gets misplaced or runs out. The names of the medications may be different and can be confusing. It is far better to take adequate supplies of your own medications. Make sure that you continue to take your medication regularly.

Arthritis
Arthritis needs to be controlled well before departure. Your Doctor is the best person to ask for guidance on medication. Please do not take advise from people who are not properly qualified. The treatment of the arthritis would involve decreasing the inflammation in and around the joints that are affected. Once the inflammation has settled, then light exercises to strengthen the muscles around the affected joint would help tremendously. Again be guided by a Doctor with the help of a Physiotherapist.

Start treatment well before departure.

People who suffer from arthritis of the weight-bearing joints should lose weight if they are overweight. Less weight would result in a decrease in load bearing on the joints.

Control arthritis well before departure.

Care of the back
Most people would travel with heavy suitcases when going overseas. Going to Makkah is no exception. In most cases, it will be found that most of the clothes taken will not be used. Travel light.

Back strain is a common problem. Most people suffer some back pain during their lifetime. Back strains take time to heal sometimes up to a month. Prolapsed discs take longer to heal. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that every precaution be taken not to strain the back unnecessarily.

If it were necessary to buy new luggage, then it would be better to spend a little more and acquire bags with wheels. These can be pulled along without being carried.

Proper lifting of heavy articles involves not bending the back but bending the knees and lifting with a straight back. It will be better to allow others who are not going to Hajj to do the lifting, e.g., relatives who are not going, hotel staff, porters, etc.

If a back problem already exists, extra care needs to be taken not only in lifting but also in sitting in awkward positions or on very low chairs, bending and twisting awkwardly, etc.

Remember, back strains take up to a month to heal. If a disc becomes prolapsed, this would take longer to heal, sometimes requiring operations.

In conclusion

1. Travel light.
2. Lift luggage correctly.
3. Find others who are not performing Hajj or Umrah to lift the luggage if possible.

Fungal Infections of the feet
Fungal infections of the feet present as either a dry scaly very itchy rash or little fluid-filled blisters between the toes or under the feet or around the heel. Fungal infections thrive in moist conditions, as between the toes or under the feet after bathing and after wudhu. The fungi cannot grow without moisture. It is therefore a good habit to dry the feet and the areas between the toes with a paper towel or tissue and to wear open sandals were possible so the feet may dry out. Fungal infections are contagious.

If a fungal infection is present, this must be attended to especially if diabetes is present. Fungal infections of the feet resulting in cracks or maceration of the skin can get secondarily infected with other bacteria causing a spreading cellulites. This can take up to a week or two to resolve with antibiotics and leg elevation.

Fungal infections can be treated with an anti-fungal agent until cured. Please consult a Doctor or Pharmacist for the most appropriate one to use.

As a prophylaxis and also as treatment in some cases, a cheap anti-fungal in the form of a generic anti-fungal can be useful. More expensive preparations, which are cosmetically better, are available and may be in a spray or powder form. The spray and powder form can be used inside shoes and sandles where the fungus may still be present.

Treatment must start well before departure so that the infection can be treated adequately.

Only prophylactic treatment may then be needed. Treat fungal infections well before departure to prevent complications.

Diabetics
Tea ordered from a take-away place may have sugar added to it.

Fruit juices that are made in take-away places have large amounts of sugar added to them to make the juice taste sweet. It is not wise to assume that the fruit juice that is available has not had sugar added to it. Please read labels of fruit juice containers to make sure whether sugar is added or not.

Diabetics must make sure that no sugar is added. Fruit juices are plentiful and extremely tempting.

Please make sure that diabetic control is at its optimum. Together with a Doctor’s help optimal diabetic control should start at least two months before departure to make sure that control is good and the correct medication is taken. Take your glucose monitor (glucometer) with you and enough strips to last you for the duration of your stay. Test your glucose level regularly and write down the results. This becomes important if a Doctor needs to be consulted.

A proper diabetic diet is very important. Some people would have their food included in their accommodation package. The hotels provide food for many people who do not have special dietary requirements. Diabetics should make their own arrangements where possible, e.g., use brown bread which can be bought easily instead of the tempting white-flour rolls or bread that may be on offer, or the abundant white rice that may be prepared.

Diabetics must take extra care of their feet. Treat scratches and even tiny cuts and fungal infections promptly with an antibiotic cream like Bactroban until they heal.

Apply extra moisturiser to keep the skin supple and elastic. Urea-based moisturizers are the best.

Care of nails on feet is also important. Remember that open sandals will be worn for the duration of Hajj. Nails should be well trimmed and not “catch” on clothes.

When walking, allow enough space in front so that feet are not trampled. If a fidgety or panicky person is in front of you, move to another place.

Complications from wounds can easily arise in diabetics resulting in unnecessary pain and discomfort and a possibility of missing Hajj.

Following a diabetic diet is very important always but especially before and during Hajj. Correct medication and good control must be maintained throughout your stay. Take your glucose monitor with you with enough test strips to last you for the duration of your stay.

High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure must be well controlled. Start at least three months before departure. Visit your Doctor regularly so that if a change in medication is necessary, it can be introduced and established before your departure. It is not enough to have your blood pressure checked at a Pharmacy or a nursing sister. Your whole body would need to be checked.

Have your blood pressure checked regularly whilst you are there.

Gout
Those who suffer from gout must make sure that they continue their preventative medication. They should also take with them a supply of medicines that usually helps them during an attack of gout. Gout usually affects the feet causing swelling and severe pain.

Asthma
Those who suffer from asthma must ensure that their asthma is well controlled with preventative medications. Good control must be achieved before departure. Adequate supplies of medications must be taken, especially preventative medications, broncho-dilator inhalers and tablets.

If well controlled, asthma should not pose a problem during Hajj and Umrah.

Both Makkah and Medinah have a dry climate. There is very little pollen in the air. Due to the dry climate, house dust mite population is also low. Cockroach allergy may cause a problem for those who are allergic to cockroach droppings. Those with hyper-reactive airways sensitive to other pollutants should ensure that they control their asthma well. Asthmatics must seek medical attention as soon as their normal medication stops helping them.

Good asthma control is essential for a hassle-free Hajj and Umrah.

Itchy conditions of the skin
People who suffer from skin conditions which cause intense itching, e.g., eczema, lichen planus, psoriasis, etc., are advised to visit their doctor to bring their condition under control to their best ability well before departure. Medications, both tablets and creams can be taken to stop the itching for the duration of the state of Ihraam.

Moisturizers must be used liberally throughout the stay in the Holy land, especially during Hajj. Make sure that the moisturizers do not contain perfumes as perfumes are not allowed whilst in the state of Ihraam.

Moisturizers have different strengths of oil in them. This affects their ability to moisturize. The more the oil content, the more the ability to moisturize. If a moisturizer is not moisturizing adequately, then a “stronger” one is necessary.

Going from weak to strong, the following is a guide:

Aqueous cream – Cream E45 – Vaseline – Nutraderm – Nutraderm Plus – Heal balm.

For itchy conditions of the skin, moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.

Dental Care
There is nothing worse than having pain during Hajj. It can take all your energy and concentration away. A toothache is one such condition that can cause intense pain. To find a dentist during the Hajj period will be very difficult. A dental check is essential well before departure to make sure that all the teeth and gums are normal. If you are unfortunate enough to suffer a toothache whilst you are there, a course of a broad spectrum antibiotic will help the pain until you can have it attended to after Hajj, Insha-Allah.

Have a dental check before departure to make sure that your teeth and gums are all in order.

Eye care
People who have an eye problem, e.g., glaucoma, must make sure that they take enough medication with them.

Those people who need reading glasses and those that cannot see well without glasses should take a spare set of spectacles with them. If your glasses break for some reason or is lost, it will not be possible to find another suitable pair.

The white marble around the Haramain shine brilliantly in sunshine. It can be over-whelming. Sun glasses can be used for those with sensitive eyes.

PROBLEMS THAT MAY ARISE

The Prevention of Infections
In situations where there are crowds of people, infections are bound to spread. Germs spread by droplets from our mouth as we speak or when we cough or sneeze especially if phlegm is present, or by direct contact as in kissing or sharing a cup, spoon, fork, etc.

Germs also spread via the faecal-oral route, as in the case of diarrhoea or gastro-enteritis and hepatitis A. Protect children, as they are the ones who come closest to us. Cover your mouth before you cough so as not to spread the infection further. The unhygienic act of spitting phlegm onto the pavement is a sure way of spreading germs! Signs that show that spitting on floors is prohibited are stuck on walls in all Muassasah’s offices. Large open bins are situated in strategic places for those that want to spit. Rather there than on the floor.

Thorough washing of hands with soap helps tremendously in preventing the spread of infections.

Avoid close contact with people who are ill. Visit them by all means but keep your distance. Spend as little time as possible with the ill person.

Use a mask if necessary.

If you are ill and are fortunate enough to have a visitor, protect your visitor by staying a fair distance away. Avoid close contact and tell visitors that the illness may be contagious.

People who are ill should try not to mix with people who are well. In this way, the illness can be contained.

If you suffer from any condition which results in decreased immunity, e.g., following chemo-therapy, please use a mask. Avoid people who are ill. Avoid crowded conditions.

If you need an antibiotic, please consult a Doctor there to get the most appropriate antibiotic at the correct dose.

Diarrhoea and vomiting
If one has diarrhoea, one must drink extra fluids, preferably oral re-hydrating fluids, like hydrol or rehidrate, which are easily available there. Try not to take any medication to stop the diarrhoea unless one is having very frequent diarrhoea (more than 6 times in 12 hours for an adult is a reasonable guide). In this case, one may take either lomotil or Imodium or their generic equivalents as directed in the package insert. These are easily available in Saudi Arabia. Diarrhoea is a method by which the body is trying to get rid of the germs. By stopping it, one may be helping the germs to stay in the body causing one to become more ill. Stomach cramps can occur. Anti-spasmodic agents such as buscopan can be used for pain relief. If there is appetite loss, the forced intake of food may cause the person to become more ill. If an appetite is present, one may eat food, but take in carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables only. Avoid protein foods such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products and fried and fatty foods for the first 48 hours. Then, a normal diet may be resumed.

The fruit bought may have insecticides or pesticides sprayed on them. Thorough washing of the fruit before eating must be done to minimize infection. Peel the fruit to be safer. Fruit that need to be peeled are safer e.g., oranges, mandarins, bananas, etc.

When diarrhoea and vomiting are present, drink extra fluids preferably with electrolytes.

Constipation
Due to a change in the diet and the hot weather resulting in water depletion, constipation can be a real problem. Constipation may result in haemorrhoids and fissures. These may result in bleeding. Constipation, haemorrhoids and fissures can be very distressing. It can affect normal activities resulting in loss of valuable time in Makkah and Medinah.

Maintaining a high fibre diet, e.g., a high fibre breakfast cereal, wholemeal bread, dried fruit like prunes and apricots, drinking adequate amounts of water can avoid constipation.

To avoid constipation, eat a high fibre diet and drink adequate amounts of liquids.

Skin Care
Because of the harsh, dry conditions that can be encountered, dryness of the skin can become a problem.

Saudi Arabia, being in the Northern Hemisphere has its winter when the southern hemisphere is having its summer. Hence, those people travelling from the southern hemisphere are confronted by a big change in the external environment.

Going from a humid climate to dry conditions will have a major effect on the skin. The skin will not have the time necessary to acclimatise. Cracking of the skin is common. If this happens on the feet, it can cause deep fissures resulting in pain and discomfort with the possibility of infection developing. This is especially important for diabetics.

A good moisturizer applied two or three times a day starting as soon as possible after arrival in Saudi Arabia will help the skin retain moisture and slowly acclimatise. The moisturizer need not be expensive. A good heel balm would be ideal. To allow the feet to retain the moisture in the skin, it may be necessary to wear a pair of socks to avoid the evaporation of water. Extra care should be paid to the feet, as performing Hajj with painful feet would add an unnecessary burden. A suitable heel balm will also help to smoothen out the thick skin around the heels.

Good care must be taken of the skin, especially the skin on the feet.

Scafing or scuffing of the inner thigh and scrotum
As men are not allowed to wear underwear, inflammation of the skin on the inner side of the thigh and scrotum can occur especially if the person is over-weight. The sweat and the rubbing of the thighs and scrotum during walking can cause a very painful rash and excoriation of the skin in this area.

To prevent this condition, men are advised to use vaseline or any other non-perfumed moisturiser liberally to the inner side of the thighs frequently throughout the state of Ihraam. If this problem does occur, a mild steroid cream will help in soothing the area until healing takes place, Insha-Allah.
Prevention is better than cure.

Swelling of feet
Due to the intense heat, it is not uncommon for the feet to swell. In healthy people, this is transient and is due to the dilatation of blood vessels in the lower limbs from the heat. As the body acclimatises to the hot conditions, the swelling should subside, Insha Allah. If one suffers from any illness, especially heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure, then one should seek the advice of a Doctor. Acclimatisation usually takes about 5 to 7 days. Those that spend a short time in Saudi Arabia before Hajj may find their feet swollen during Hajj. Not much can be done about this as the body needs time to adjust.

It would help to elevate the legs at every opportunity so that the dependent fluid in the feet can go back into the circulation.

Medicines
Most medicines that we find here are obtainable in Saudi Arabia. Take adequate and extra amounts of the usual medicines that you need in case departure from Saudi Arabia is for some reason delayed. These would include medications for High blood pressure, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Glaucoma, raised cholesterol, etc. Besides the usual medicines taken, one may take small quantities of a pain killer such as panado or suncodin and whatever else one may feel is needed. Codiene-containing preparations are not available in Saudi Arabia as codeine is addictive. Pharmacies in Saudi Arabia do not require prescriptions for medications that usually require control here. This is done to make medication easily accessible to the millions of people that come there without the need to look for a doctor. The pharmacists are usually very helpful and will give you whatever you need. Take a presctription of your medications from your Doctor to make it easier for the Pharmacist there. Do not hesitate to take the advise of a Doctor or a Pharmacist who may be traveling with you.

The Holy Mosques in Makkah and Medina have extensive marble floors inside and outside. When the smooth marble is wet, as after rain or after washing, it becomes very slippery. Walking on slippery floors must be done with extra care as slipping and falling hard onto the marble can cause some serious injury to the back, hips, elbows and wrists.

Fractures usually result from these falls.

Take extra care when walking on wet marble floors in and around the Haramain.

THE FIVE DAYS OF HAJJ
We must not lose sight of the primary aim of our journey and that is to perform Hajj. We can become engrossed in daily activities in Makkah and Medinah without realising the closeness of Hajj. The whole purpose of our journey is to perform Hajj. We must therefore be physically and spiritually ready to undertake the Pilgrimage.

If you are ill, get adequate treatment so that you can recover well before Hajj actually starts. If you are not ill, make sure that you look after yourself so that you do not become ill, e.g., avoid coming too close to people who are ill, dress adequately so that you do not get cold or wet if it rains. exercise your body to keep well in peak condition. Take special care of your skin and your feet. Try out your footwear to make sure they fit. Walk with them for a few days or all the time to “break” them in and allow your feet to become accustomed to the footwear.

Have a positive attitude during this time. You are a guest of Allah Ta’ala. Look forward to going out of Makkah to show Allah Ta’ala that you would prove to Him that you are worthy of returning to Makkah for Tawaful Ziyarah, that you reject Shaitaan with enthusiasm and contempt and not return to the ways of Shaitaan. It would be more productive to go out there and perform the rituals with enthusiasm. A positive attitude towards helping other pilgrims in whichever way possible can help you to have a very fulfilling Hajj, Insha-Allah. Please help out in which ever way you can and don’t expect things to be done for you by others.

DURING HAJJ
Spend ALL your time in Ibadaat. The time in Mina is mainly for reflection, on your life so far and on Allah Ta’ala, on Zikr and reading appropriate parts of the Quran.

The Day of Arafat is the most important day of Hajj. Use it to the maximum. You may not get another chance. Take full advantage of standing outside during Waquf to tell Allah Ta’ala how Great He is and to thank Him for all that He has done for you and your family and friends.

Ask Him for whatever your needs are with humility and confidence. If you have prepared well, standing in the hot sun for two to three hours would not be a difficult task Insha Allah.

Please remember to take your medications on time. If you are on a diet, stay strictly on the diet. This is not the time to get sick because you did not take your medication or follow your diet. Besides compromising your own Hajj, you may inconvenience other Hajees.

Do not over eat. Eat small meals, take adequate liquids

Do not rush to stone the Shaitaan. This must be done deliberately with a lot of emotion. Wait for a suitable opportunity. Stand at a safe spot and observe the scene. Do not rush into the crowd. Insha-Allah, a suitable opportunity will present itself. Women should be protected from the pushing. There can be a lot of pushing. Please do not push as it worsens the situation. If you lose your footwear and if it is very crowded with people pushing and shoving, leave your footwear. Do not try looking for your footwear in the crowd. A little push can throw you to the ground. People can get trampled in this rush.

If an injury is sustained on the feet, treat it well with an antiseptic such as savlon regularly and apply Mercurochrome or a suitable antiseptic cream if the wound is deeper until medical help is available. Do not ignore it as Hajj is yet incomplete. There is still Tawaful Ziyarah to be done sometimes under very trying conditions. There is no need to rush. Insha-Allah, there will be plenty of time to complete Hajj.

Pharmacies are available at Mina during Hajj.

IMMUNISATIONS
Yellow Fever Immunisation is recommended only for people traveling through Africa. South Africa is not regarded as a yellow fever endemic area. Therefore, South Africans traveling straight to Saudi Arabia need not take yellow fever immunization. However, some airlines travelling from South Africa to Saudi Arabia make an unscheduled stop in Central Africa, usually Nairobi. If this happens, then Yellow Fever Immunisation becomes necessary. Therefore, it would be advisable to take the Yellow Fever Immunisation. This vaccine lasts 10 years.

Menningo-coccal meningitis vaccine (4 strain – A,C,W135,L- only) is also recommended and required by the Saudi authorities as this infection can be picked up from fellow travelers. This is compulsory for everyone above 2 years old.

This vaccine lasts for 3 years.

Menningo-coccal meningitis can be carried by people who have been vaccinated. To prevent pilgrims from taking the germ home where it can infect other people, all pilgrims are required to take one dose of CIPROBAY 500mg before departure (GENERIC AVAILABLE). This can be obtained from a pharmacy. The tablets are purchased in packs of ten tablets.

Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver resulting in jaundice. It is transmitted via the faecal-oral route by infected food from infected food handlers. The incubation period is 2 to 3 weeks from the time of contact. It can be a serious illness. Hepatitis A vaccine can be taken at least two weeks before departure. Immunity derived from this vaccine can last up to two years. If a booster vaccine is taken after six months, the immunity to hepatitis A will last 10 years. This vaccine is optional.

It is recommended that the Influenza vaccine be taken by all pilgrims before departure for Hajj. Influenza spreads very fast in the crowded situations. This is most important for the elderly, and for people who have chronic illnesses like asthma, diabetes, etc.

Immunisations can have side effects. For this reason, it is better to take the injections well before departure. This will allow for good immunity to develop as well as for the injection site to heal.

CONCLUSION
Adequate preparations to keep your health in good condition will, Insha Allah make the performance of Hajj and Umrah a spiritually uplifting and memorable experience. Invoking Allah Ta’ala’s help, in duas, in keeping illness and injury away and in protection from ill-health cannot be over-emphasised.

Author: Dr. Farouk Haffejee
Courtesy: www.everymuslim.net

Hajj Checklist

  • Ihram/s
  • Musalla
  • Gym bag – useful to carry your musalla in, and once inside haram footwear also
  • safety pins
  • Money belt
  • Flip flops
  • Sandals
  • Sleeping bag
  • Light jacket for Muzdalifa
  • Small bag for pebbles
  • Sun glasses/ shades
  • Vaseline

  • Toiletries

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Razor
  • Wet wipes
  • Mobile phone
  • Spare glasses/ contact lenses
  • Small Quran
  • Hajj guide/ Du’a kitabs
  • Small shoulder bag – to keep Qur’an and Kitabs in

I am sure there maybe more you can think of so please leave your suggestions in the comments and Insha’Allah I will update the list.

Ten Tips for Ramadhan

As the blessed month of Ramadhan approaches, we need to prepare for it in such a way that we can gain the maximum benefit of this month. For many, Ramadhan comes and goes. However, very few people actually benefit from this great month. Our teachers advise us to live the whole year as if we are in the month of Ramadhan. This magnanimous achievement can only be attained when the actual month of Ramadhan is spent properly. In order to acquire a droplet of the reality mentioned above, Insha Allah, I hope to mention ten points that were given as form of advice to me and many others.

  1. Discipline: Most people already know to abstain from eating, drinking, and sexual relations from one’s spouse during the daytime of Ramadhan. However, a level of discipline must be developed to do righteous acts and abstain from those acts which would earn the displeasure of Allah. That was a basic form of discipline that needs to be developed but along with that, one needs to have discipline in following a particular routine or schedule for Ramadhan. This will be the real life changing factor for an individual. They wake up for suhoor but also pray Tahajjud at that time. Recite some Qur’an. They eat. Make dua’ while waiting for Salah. They pray Fajr. Recite Qur’an and make zikr. Rest if they need to.
    The idea is to make a schedule and act accordingly the whole month without sacrificing their schedule. This is the desired discipline that is required.One may ask, “Why did he not just put the first point as a ‘making a schedule’?” Well, the answer is very simple. Anyone can come up with a schedule, but it takes real discipline to abide by it.
  2. Devotional life (‘Ibadah): Ramadhan is the month where Allah allows us to really fulfill the purpose of our being, and the purpose of our creation. Allah created us all to worship Him, and Him alone. Here, I will not mention virtues of various acts or worship because those can be found in the many books on the merits of certain deeds. However, since Ramadhan and Qur’an are closely connected, I will say that much of our devotional life should be focused on the Qur’an.
    Reciting at least the entire Qur’an once in this month. Understanding it from erudite scholarship of our community or from accepted commentaries and Tafaaseer. I am not asking that a person recites the entire Qur’an and completes one entire commentary of it in one month. Perhaps it may be feasible to recite the entire Qur’an and start off a regimen of a Tafseer and try to finish it on an annual basis.
  3. Identifying with the Ummah: It is important that we feel our fast, i.e. feel hunger and thirst. Apart from that, we can use this to our benefit by making other people’s fast count for us as well. This means that if we feed or give to drink something to someone who fasts, we can get the reward of their fast as well.
    Another aspect of identifying with the Ummah is to be grateful for whatever Allah has given us and realize that a little of that we need to give to others so that they may have a decent Ramadhan and wonderful ‘Eid. See what the Ummah is going through and see how we can actively participate to help the Ummah in any way possible.
  4. Contact with the Qur’an: Ramadhan is the month wherein the Qur’an was revealed. This is the month of the Qur’an. It is extremely essential to establish a relationship with the Qur’an. Without going into much detail, I will just mention something practical with regards to the Qur’an and Ramadhan.
    For the average person, i.e. one who is not scholar or is not a Hafiz, they should read at least one juz per day so that they finish at a minimum one entire Qur’an for the month of Ramadhan. If one can do more, than Alhamdulillah, no one is stopping anyone. The next thing is to understand the Qur’an. So take the first volume of Ma’ariful Qur’an (for example) and read one section of the Arabic part (if one can) and then read the translation, then read the commentary. Do this every day without fail. Obviously the whole commentary will not be completed in one month, but at least a schedule to read a portion regularly will be developed and hopefully within a year it could be completed.
    Also, one should try to memorize those chapters/surahs which are read often like Mulk, Kahf, Ya Seen, Waqi’ah, and Sajdah. Also memorize Surahs from the last juz at least and more if possible.
  5. Mujahadah: Ramadhan is a month of sacrifice and struggle. It is a month where Allah wants our time, our health, our wealth, and our whole being. We literally live the whole year for everything and anything. It is just one month…can we not live one month solely for our Creator?! So what if we have to sacrifice our sleep, and random other luxuries that we can do without anyway. As the saying goes, “No pain, no gain.” The amount of sacrifice and struggle we put into this month, Allah will reward us in this world and the next accordingly.
    Give yourself to Allah, and see what Allah has in store for you.
  6. Dua’: The essence of worship is supplication to Allah. This whole month, Allah is willing and readily open to accept all that we ask of Him. It is only to our own loss and detriment that we lack in begging Allah for the things we need. Prioritize your supplications. Ask firstly for yourself, then your family, community, then the Ummah at large. Within that, prioritize and ask for things pertaining to the hereafter, then ask for things pertaining to this world. Just remember one thing when it comes to dua’, the point of dua’ is not that we need something or we need protection or refuge from some other thing, the point is that Allah told us to supplicate to Him, and that is why one should make dua’ abundantly. There are certain things Allah loves to do, and one of them is to answer the supplications of His servants who call unto Him.
    One final aspect regarding dua’ is crying or pretending to cry. Tears are something foreign to Allah and therefore He has immense value for tears. The whole year we become filthy and impure spiritually by sinning, Ramadhan is the month where we purify our spirits by bathing our spirits in our tears.
  7. Good Company: Ramadhan is a month to maximize on good deeds and keep bad deeds at zero. Being in the company of the righteous will allow one to attain this goal. I will keep this point short. The minimum benefit one gets by being in good company is that one will not sin which in turn will cause one to become the greatest worshiper based off the hadith of Tirmidhi wherein Nabi (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) took Abu Hurayrah (Radhiyallahu ‘anhu)’s hand and said, “O Abu Hurayrah, abstain from all prohibitions and you will become the best worshiper.”
    The maximum benefit is that being with the people of Allah, Insha Allah; a person may just Attain Allah. What can be greater?!
  8. Gratitude: The secret to an increase in anything is to be thankful for it. To make sure that we see this month the next year, appreciate it this year. Be thankful for all that we have in every aspect, even the basic things we neglect and take for granted. We have Iman, we have Islam. Alhamdulillah, we are the best Ummah. We have been given the best book, i.e. the Qur’an. The best way to appreciate a bounty is to use it for its purpose.
    Allah has blessed with infinite blessing and bounties. Ramadhan is one of those bounties, so to fully appreciate Ramadhan, we must spend it the way Allah would like us to spend it and attain out goal which is Taqwa.
  9. Following the Sunnah: Anything of the beloved is also beloved. That is a principle of love. Allah has proclaimed the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) as His beloved. If we follow the Sunnah and show a resemblance, then we can also gain the focus of Allah. Particularly follow the Sunnah acts which the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) performed in Ramadhan.
    If we have to do something, might as well do it the best way possible. The best way for anything to be done is the way of the Sunnah. If by any chance it was some other way, Allah would have had His Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) do it that way then.
  10. Istiqamah: Imam Junayd Al-Baghdadi (RA) said, “Steadfastness is greater than a thousand miracles.” Please do not tire one’s self out in the initial stages of Ramadhan, rather figure out a routine that works and stick to it regularly. The most beloved of actions to Allah are those that are done consistently even though they may seem minor. We all need to be thankful for the good that we have done and also for the evil we are able to abstain from. We also need to be thankful for whatever level of steadfastness that we have. We want to make Ramadhan last beyond Ramadhan as well. I’ll end with a quote from one of our mashaaikh, Shaykh In’aam-ul-Hasan Kandehlawi (RA) said, “Whoever lives their life as they do in Ramadhan, then death will come to that person just as the moon of ‘Eid comes for the fasting person.”

To conclude, we pray to Allah that He accepts all of our efforts and overlooks and forgives all of our shortcomings. Aameen.

Source: An-Noor

The Meaning of Ramadan

By Khalid Baig

Fasting during Ramadan was ordained during the second year of Hijrah. Why not earlier? In Makkah the economic conditions of the Muslims were bad. They were being persecuted. Often days would go by before they had anything to eat. It is easy to skip meals if you don’t have any. Obviously fasting would have been easier under the circumstances. So why not then?

The answer may be that Ramadan is not only about skipping meals. While fasting is an integral and paramount part of it, Ramadan offers a comprehensive program for our spiritual overhaul. The entire program required the peace and security that was offered by Madinah.

Yes, Ramadan is the most important month of the year. It is the month that the believers await with eagerness. At the beginning of Rajab — two full months before Ramadan — the Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to supplicate thus: “O Allah! Bless us during Rajab and Sha’ban, and let us reach Ramadan (in good health).”

During Ramadan the believers get busy seeking Allah’s mercy, forgiveness, and protection from Hellfire. This is the month for renewing our commitment and re-establishing our relationship with our Creator. It is the spring season for goodness and virtues when righteousness blossoms throughout the Muslim communities. “If we combine all the blessings of the other eleven months, they would not add up to the blessings of Ramadan,” said the great scholar and reformer Shaikh Ahmed Farooqi (Mujaddad Alif Thani). It offers every Muslim an opportunity to strengthen his Iman, purify his heart and soul, and to remove the evil effects of the sins committed by him.

“Anyone who fasts during this month with purity of belief and with expectation of a good reward (from his Creator), will have his previous sins forgiven,” said Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. “Anyone who stands in prayers during its nights with purity of belief and expectation of a reward, will have his previous sins forgiven.” As other ahadith tell us, the rewards for good deeds are multiplied manifold during Ramadan.

Along with the possibility of a great reward, there is the risk of a terrible loss. If we let any other month pass by carelessly, we just lost a month. If we do the same during Ramadan, we have lost everything. The person who misses just one day’s fast without a legitimate reason, cannot really make up for it even if he were to fast everyday for the rest of his life. And of the three persons that Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam cursed, one is the unfortunate Muslim who finds Ramadan in good health but does not use the opportunity to seek Allah’s mercy.

One who does not fast is obviously in this category, but so also is the person who fasts and prays but makes no effort to stay away from sins or attain purity of the heart through the numerous opportunities offered by Ramadan. The Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, warned us: “There are those who get nothing from their fast but hunger and thirst. There are those who get nothing from their nightly prayers but loss of sleep.”

Those who understood this, for them Ramadan was indeed a very special month. In addition to fasting, mandatory Salat, and extra Travih Salat, they spent the whole month in acts of worship like voluntary Salat, Tilawa (recitation of Qur’an), Dhikr etc. After mentioning that this has been the tradition of the pious people of this Ummah throughout the centuries, Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi notes: ” I have seen with my own eyes such ulema and mashaikh who used to finish recitation of the entire Qur’an everyday during Ramadan. They spent almost the entire night in prayers. They used to eat so little that one wondered how they could endure all this. These greats valued every moment of Ramadan and would not waste any of it in any other pursuit…Watching them made one believe the astounding stories of Ibada and devotion of our elders recorded by history.”

This emphasis on these acts of worship may sound strange — even misplaced — to some. It requires some explanation. We know that the term Ibada (worship and obedience) in Islam applies not only to the formal acts of worship and devotion like Salat , Tilawa, and Dhikr, but it also applies to worldly acts when performed in obedience to Shariah and with the intention of pleasing Allah. Thus a believer going to work is performing Ibada when he seeks Halal income to discharge his responsibility as a bread-winner for the family. However a distinction must be made between the two. The first category consists of direct Ibada, acts that are required for their own sake. The second category consists of indirect Ibada — worldly acts that become Ibada through proper intention and observation of Shariah. While the second category is important for it extends the idea of Ibada to our entire life, there is also a danger because by their very nature these acts can camouflage other motives. (Is my going to work really Ibada or am I actually in the rat race?). Here the direct Ibada comes to the rescue. Through them we can purify our motives, and re-establish our relationship with Allah.

Islam does not approve of monasticism. It does not ask us to permanently isolate ourselves from this world, since our test is in living here according to the Commands of our Creator. But it does ask us to take periodic breaks from it. The mandatory Salat (five daily prayers) is one example. For a few minutes every so many hours throughout the day, we leave the affairs of this world and appear before Allah to remind ourselves that none but He is worthy of worship and of our unfaltering obedience. Ramadan takes this to the next higher plane, providing intense training for a whole month.

This spirit is captured in I’tikaf, a unique Ibada associated with Ramadan, in which a person gives up all his normal activities and enters a mosque for a specific period. There is great merit in it and every Muslim community is encouraged to provide at least one person who will perform I’tikaf for the last ten days of Ramadan. But even those who cannot spare ten days are encouraged to spend as much time in the mosque as possible.

Through direct Ibada we “charge our batteries”; the indirect ones allow us to use the power so accumulated in driving the vehicle of our life. Ramadan is the month for rebuilding our spiritual strength. How much we benefit from it is up to us.

Source: Al Balagh

Back to Ramadan Menu

Make use of your youth

If Allah gives us 60 years to live then it comes to around 22,000 days (60×365). All these days Allah gives us to prepare for one day of interview with Allah. That is on the Day of Judgement. On that day, Allah will ask us some questions and He wants some correct answers. Allah is so merciful that He already told us what the questions will be through Quran and Ahadith. His mercy is so great that He even told us the answers to these questions.

Now imagine, a student goes to write an exam. He opens his exam paper and finds the questions on one side. Then he finds that the answers to the questions are on the other side. Now after writting the exam, if this student still fails then what would we think of him? We would think that he is the dumbest person around. Well, tell you what, on the Day of Judgement, us people who knew the questions and answers will still fail! That is why, this is the time to wake up before we prove ourselves to be the dumbest of people.

Youth is the prime time of our lives. This is where people make important decisions like what to become in the future. Things you do in this time will most likely affect you throughout the rest of your life. That is why, it is important to bring Islam into your life during these days. Many people have the conception that when they get old then they will start practising Islam. Probably you and me also have this feeling. But look at it this way: If you want to become a famous hockey player then you would start playing right from the youth. As you grow up, you will become better and better. But if you think that you will start playing when you are an old man then the chances of becoming famous is virtually zero. That’s the reality. When we become old, we won’t have enough energy to even stand up and pray.

Because youth is the prime time of your life, that is why it is very precious to Allah. Allah has prepared a shade on the Day of Judgement for those people who used to worship Allah in their youth. On that Day, there will be no other shade except the shade from the throne of Allah. Imagine standing outside on a very hot day under the sun for hours after hours. You would definately want some shadow to rest under. But what about that Day when the sun will be much nearer to us and the heat will be much more extreme. Wouldn’t you want some shade on that day? Ofcourse you would!

You and I are all weak in terms of keeping our duties to Allah and Allah is aware of that. Allah wants that we keep trying to do our best. If a baby falls down while walking he tries to get up again and walk. He doesn’t keep sitting down. Then a day comes when he does start to walk. Similarly, we should keep trying our best and not give up. A day will come when, Inshallah, we will be strong enough to obey Allah in every situation. Let us make a small promise to Allah right now that we will start doing the things for which we were sent to this life. Otherwise, we will be like that dumb guy who will fail the test on the Day of Judgement.

May Allah make it easy for us. Ameen.
Source: Unknown

Bad Weather Days

Assalam Alaykum,

Recently we had a fair amount of snowfall and it actually settled which is rather unusual for us.  Anyway, one morning whilst walking through the snow I was amazed to see a lady jogging through the snow.  About a day or so later, I see another man running whilst it is still snowing in the early evening as I walk home from work.  Both of these individuals were jogging/ running as part of their exercise routine.

This got me thinking in that see how someone can be so dedicated to a particular task/ cause when they put their mind to it.  They know the outcome that if they continue to train they will eventually achieve their goal.  The goal maybe to keep fit or merely to avoid being a couch potatoe. They come across days like the above, with bad weather but still they remain undeterred.

Why do I mention this?  Well the case of a believer is similar, they know (should know!) the outcome if they do/ don’t follow the requirements laid out by the deen of Islam.  This needs to be often remembered so that we keep ourselves in check and avoid straying from the straight path.  We need to keep at the forefront of our mind the continuous effort we should make to increase our good deeds and please Almighty Allah.

Just like the runners mentioned above, the Muslim will also come accross ‘days with bad weather’ but we should not fear or despair but take it in our stride, be patient and carry on with our end goal in mind.  It maybe hard at first but with duah and perseverance, Insha’Allah we will remain strong and not waiver, even during these bad days.

Its now running late so I will end here.  These were just a few words to invoke some thoughts and keep us motivated.  All good is from Allah alone, and any mistake are from my own shortcomings.

Please remember me and my family in your duas and pray I am able to keep the site updated more frequently in future.

Wasalam

Currency of Jannah

Every country has its particular financial currency. Pakistani rupees cannot function in America, where the currency is the dollar, and whoever has more dollars will live that much more comfortably. Likewise, the currency of Saudi Arabia is the riyal, and whoever has more riyals will be that much richer than the one who does not.

The currency of the Hereafter is righteous deeds and no other currency will benefit man after his death. There will be no foreign currency exchange where he can change his money for good deeds like we do here when traveling from country to country. The person who has more of this currency of good deeds will be in that much more comfort than the person who does not. Today we have been given time to amass this currency so that we may be in comfort in the Hereafter. It will be too late in the grave.

Does man ever stop to reflect on the fact that he is getting old? The answer is an emphatic no because man always considers himself young in every circumstance. His youth slips away and man becomes an empty shell but he does not realize this. He still thinks himself young when the Angel of Death comes for him.

Source: Purpose of Man by Shaykh Zulfiqar Tasawwuf.org

Preparation

This morning was a cold walk accross the park to work. I made sure that I was prepared by putting on my big coat, woolly hat and gloves before even leaving the house. So what?

Well, we are always reminded, either in the quran, ahadith or by others, of the temporary nature of this life in the dunya, yet we still remain ignorant to prepare for when we have to leave this world. The journey to work/ school etc. for us is only a short one yet we prepare for whatever the weather may be outdoors, but for the permanent abode of the akhirah (hereafter) we choose to cast aside in our mind and ignore the signs telling us to prepare?

I leave you to ponder over this…May Allah Almighty give us the ability to draw some important lessons from above and act in order to prepare for our eternal life in the hereafter, ameen.