A short speech and advice on The Month of Sha’ban and Preparing for Ramadan by Shaykh Shams ud-Duha.
Ihrâm literally means to make something harâm upon oneself. By adopting ihrâm (donning the two sheets, making niyat and reciting the talbiya), certain things which were halâl (allowed) now become harâm (not allowed) upon that person. Thus, we can say that ihrâm is a state (condition) which a person has subjected himself to and he can reverse this state only if particular rites are performed.
Furthermore, the two sheets a Haji or Mu’tamir wears is also called ihrâm because it reflects ones intention and status.
Once a person adopts an ihrâm, it must not be ended abrubtly without completing the intended haj or umra. This applies even if a person has committed an act which will render his ihrâm fâsid.
- if a muhrim was unable to make wuqûf of Arafah, he should then perform the acts of umra and terminate such an ihrâm.
- if a muhrim is prevented from performing haj or umra, than such a muhrim can end the state of ihrâm by offering a sacrifice within the boundaries of the haram.
- It is wâjib to perform the Qadha of any ihrâm terminated without performing the rites of the intended hajj or Umra.
CONDITIONS OF IHRÂM:
- To be a Muslim.
- To form an intention and to recite the talbiya or any other zikr that is an acceptable substitute for the talbiya.
WÂJIBÂT OF IHRÂM:
- To adopt ihrâm from the miqât.
- To stay away from that which is prohibited in ihrâm.
SUNAN OF IHRÂM:
- To perform ghusl or wudhu.
- To apply itr before making an intention for the Ihrâm of Haj or Umrah.
- To use two sheets as the dress for ihrâm.
- To perform two rakâts salâh as sunnat of ihrâm.
- To recite the talbiya as reported in the hadith .
- To recite it loudly.
- To recite it thrice.
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The lifestyle that we have become accustomed to has spoiled us and we except a limousine to be waiting at the airport to whisk us away and drop us right outside the Haram. There is a system to everything that we must realize and we must be prepared to allow it to run its own course. We need to realize that we are servants whom the Master is allowing to come visit His House and not the other way around.
Presidents and kings of this worthless and temporary world make their visitors wait for hours without explanation and we expect the Master of the universe to cater to our every need. To be allowed to come to Hajj is indeed a blessing for which we should be ready to bear double if not triple the usual burden.
Hajj is a journey and act of worship and there is always trial in worship no matter what form. If people desire luxury and comfort they are welcome to stay in their beds because no one is forcing them to go to Hajj. However, people must be prepared for hardship if they have already taken the first steps toward anything.
Source: the Urgency of Hajj from the Discourses of Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmed(db)
The ultimate destination
You are the luckiest person in the world. Allah has invited you personally to His House.
What is Hajj? Hajj in the Arabic language means aim, destination or purpose (qasd). The reason is clear: Hajj is the ultimate journey of loving submission (‘ubudiyah) and conscious surrender (riq) to Allah. Its ultimate destination is your encounter with the House of Allah (Bayt al-Allah) – the Ka`bah – with both your physical body and, more importantly, your heart (qalb).
Ibn al-Jawzi (rahimah al-Allah) relates a story of an old, blind woman who was journeying to Hajj years ago with a caravan. Throughout the journey, she keeps asking: “Are we at the house of my Lord?” Time and again, she is told, “No, mother, we are not there yet.” As the caravan nears Makkah, she is informed that they are almost there. Finally, they enter Masjid al-Haram. She is led to the Ka’bah. Touching the Ka’bah, she cries, “Baytu rabbi? The House of my Lord?” Weeping, she clings to the cloth of the Ka’bah – and dies.
The woman realized with her heart (qalb) the true significance of visiting the House of her Lord.
Allah has invited you to His House, which He has called the al-Bayt al-‘Atiq – the ancient, liberated and liberating house. Your journey is one of freedom and liberation. For as your body leaves its material house to journey to Allah’s House, your heart is meant to disengage from the lower self (nafs), the shaytan, and the world (dunya) and journey to Allah.
The ultimate reward for a Hajj mabrur is to return home with the purity of a newborn child. What could be a greater incentive! But beware, for Hajj is a selective process. Only a few will attain a Hajj mabrur, which is a Hajj performed correctly, without any disobedience to Allah and without indulging in any argumentation. Be prepared. Be vigilant. Be focused. This will be one of the greatest – and sweetest – struggles of your life. And though you will long and dream for the rest of your life to come back, you may never return again.
May Allah allow our bodies to journey to His House; may He permit our hearts to find Him, the Lord of the House. Ameen.
The most sacred space
You will be journeying from your earthly house to Makkah, your spiritual home, the most beloved place to Allah in all of space and time. Allah himself has decreed it to be so since the beginning of creation. There is no place more blessed, more beautiful, more virtuous, more exalted than Makkah. Every inch and every corner of Makkah is a haram, a sanctuary made sacred by Allah. The more you revere Makkah, the more you will be ennobled by Allah. We must take the greatest of care to never think casually of our sojourn in Makkah or live within its precincts in disobedience or negligence.
Some reports teach that it was in Makkah that our father adam (‘alayhi al-salam) longed to go back to paradise and be in the presence of Allah. To console his loneliness, Allah commanded him to do tawaf around the space of the current Ka‘bah. And adam did, and felt whole again.
Other texts teach that Nuh (’alayhi al-salam), Ibrahim (’alayhi al-salam), and many Prophets before them (’alayhim al-salam), all did tawaf around Allah’s sacred House. Their spiritual energy and legacy fills the air. You will be walking in the footsteps and the heart-steps of Rasulullah (sallalahu ’alayhi wasallam) and his noble companions.
Shelter, solace and sight
Hajj and its rites are described in various and powerful ways by Allah and his Rasul (sallalahu ’alayhi wasallam). Through these descriptions, we gain insight into the deeper meanings of Hajj. The rites of hajj are described, for example, as manasik, masha‘ir and mashahid.
Mansak (plural manasik), usually translated as ritual, connotes shelter (maskan) and tranquility (sukun). The rites of Hajj are residences of shelter and tranquility for the heart.
Mash‘ar (plural masha‘ir) connotes feeling and experience. The rites of Hajj cause the heart to feel and experience the sweetness of nearness to Allah.
Mashad (plural mashahid) is to witness with the heart the blessings of Allah at every station – to see, with one’s inner sight, Allah’s will as the Decreer of decrees and the Causer of causes.
Each word connotes a different inner dimension of Hajj, as the movement, not only of your body or limbs, but of your heart. For as your body journeys from one place to another, so too must your heart travel through various stations (maqamat), each of which will provide it with shelter, solace and inner sight.
Hajj is your chance to become an angel and to live with the delight of an angel.
In tawaf, you will be mirroring the worship of the angels, the mala’ikah, those heavenly creatures created of pure light and enveloped in the worship of Allah. Texts teach that the Ka‘bah is connected in an imperceptible way to the Bayt al-Ma‘mur, the heavenly Ka‘bah of the angels, around which they are constantly in tawaf. Seventy thousand angels perform tawaf around this house and are replaced with others, never to return.
Around the Ka‘bah, we are in a heavenly dimension. Near the Ka‘bah are the Hajar Aswad, or black stone, and the Maqam Ibrahim, both gems from jannah. We are taught that the hajar was darkened by the sins and transgressions of man. Its heavenly light is now folded from us. The hajar will be rendered into a person in the afterlife by Allah and will witness on behalf of those who approached it with truth and sincerity. The hajar can be said to take a picture recording of your heart as you stand before it. Kissing the hajar is the most profound renewal of your covenant with Allah and a pledge of love, dedicated obedience and soulful allegiance to Him.
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
Entering into Ihram
As you near the miqat, your heart will tremble and tremor. Is this really happening? Is my heart getting closer and closer to His House? Soon you will enter Allah’s haram. It is only fitting that you enter into a state, both externally and internally, that justly corresponds to this honour. Beyond the miqat, there is only talbiyah.
The essence of Hajj is the journey of our hearts away from the house of our lower selves (nufus) with its passions (shahawat), inclinations (ahwa’) and attachment to the created world (khalq) to the haram and, ultimately, the House of Allah. We must leave our attachments to receive the greatest connection. We must leave to arrive.
Ihram is from haram. Both meanings, to be sacred and to be forbidden, are carried in it. Through the ihram, the heart is meant to leave the temporary and the finite – to make it, in a sense, “forbidden” – and to prepare for the sacred audience of Allah’s presence.
The muhrim has disengaged from everything and anything that distracts him or her from Allah and, consequently, from remembrance, peace and stillness. The muhrim has left his or her home taking taqwa or Allah-consciousness, the best sustenance, as a provision.
One enters into ihram with talbiyah. Talbiyah is the heart’s most profound surrender to the invitation and call of Allah: Here I come to You, my Lord, here I come – fully and forever.
With the talbiyah, we proclaim that no associate (sharik) or attachment will distract us from seeking Allah. Our hearts will not see, hear, obey, or be lured to another, besides Him. The recitation of this talbiyah is to be said with constancy and conviction, and not intermittently and infrequently.Talbiyah is essential to focusing our hearts. It will remind us of the purpose of our journey; it will facilitate us in foregoing our rights, demands and expectations while yet rendering fully the major and minor rights of others; it will dispel distractions; and it will make all obstacles easy, even pleasurable.
There is no praise (hamd) and no dominion and power (mulk) except that Allah owns it. Everything, whether tangible or intangible, belongs to Him. In fact, we are in praise of Him by Him.
Mina, or Muna, means desire, hope, longing.
Some texts teach that it was in Muna that adam ( ‘alayhi al-salam) longed and desired to journey back home to paradise and to be, once again, in Allah’s presence.
It is in Muna that the journey begins. The day spent in Muna, termed the day of tarwiyah (meaning, in part, to quench, to drink to one’s fill), is meant for our heart to focus on the aim of their journey, to gather in resolution and focus, and to begin our inner momentum towards the House of Allah.
‘Arafat means to know, to understand. Another verb scale conveys the meaning of perfuming, making fragrant, scenting. ‘Arafat is the essential pillar (rukn), of Hajj; without ‘Arafat there is no Hajj.
‘Arafat is the cleansing station outside the haram where we stand and seek forgiveness for all that we’ve committed in our lives. We beg and implore Allah to make us worthy of entering into His haram, visiting His House and being in His presence.
Here, on ‘Arafat, we learn two things. As we acknowledge our disobedience, our sins, our rebelliousness and our forgetfulness, we know our unworthiness as true servants. We reveal everything to Allah, minor or major, Who knows already but simply wants us to admit with true transparency and sincerity what we are inside of our selves. Moreover, we begin to know the all-enveloping knowledge, the inestimable mercy, the boundless generosity and the limitless grace of Alah in forgiving and effacing our sins. Who is it, beside Him, that can forgive and that does forgive? There is no refuge or flight from Allah except to Him.
Allah celebrates, in the presence of the angels, the hujjaj on ‘Arafat asking for forgiveness. And He affirms to the angels that, yes, He has forgiven them.
Now, as the sun begins to set, you continue, perfumed and scented with the purity of Allah’s grace and forgiveness, ever closer to His haram.
Muzdalifa, from the Arabic root izdilaf, means to approach, to get closer.
Muzdalifa is a second station of cleansing and purification. The pilgrim is now closer to the Ka‘bah. We remain in supplication (du‘a’) after fajr, imploring Allah again for pardon and guidance. Some scholars have said that in Muzdalifa, Allah also forgives our violations against the rights of others. Such violations are not usually forgiven unless, in addition to seeking forgiveness, we remedy what has been violated.
Muna and the casting of the pebbles
During the Hajj of Ibrahim (‘alayhi al-salam), he was commanded to sacrifice his son. Allah, of course, never intended that the slaughter take place. Allah wanted, instead, to purify and free Ibrahim (‘alayhi al-salam) from every love and every attachment besides Him.
It was in Muna that the shaytan attempted to waylay Ibrahim (‘alayhi al-salam) from sacrificing his son. Ibrahim (’alayhi al-salam) casted pebbles at the shaytan to reject his designs and prompting.
In casting the pebbles, the pilgrim affirms Allah’s greatness over everything and covenants with Allah that he or she will never regress to anything which displeases Him.
Casting the pebbles is the casting away of shaytan, the lower self (nafs) with its desires, inclinations and evil, and, ultimately, casting away everything besides Allah. The pebble is meant, not to hit the pillar, but to fall inside the container, or majmar, where it will remain. The fire of the nafs, its impetus to evil, must be cast out, contained and confined. Our nafs must be jailed for us to become free.
After the nafs is jailed by the casting of the pebbles, it is slaughtered. The sacrifice of the animal signifies the slaughter of the nafs by Ibrahim (‘alayhi al-salam). Ibrahim’s (‘alayhi al-salam) sacrifice was momentous: he sacrificed his very will. Ibrahim was named the Khalil (cherished friend) of Allah because his love for Allah pierced and consumed his entire heart.
The hair – signifying status, station and pride – is now shaved. Whatever remaining trace and residue of the disobedient nafs is now completely cleansed.
Now, the pilgrim is welcomed by Allah to visit His Haram and His House. He or she is now freed from ihram, but not completely. Washing and the use of perfume are now permitted; intimate relations are not. Approaching one’s spouse is unbefitting considering that now the pilgrim is going to visit the Host.
Ifadah means to flood, to rush, to move.
The movement from ‘Arafat to the haram is called ifadah. The rite of tawaf that takes place after the casting of the pebbles, the sacrifice and the shaving of the head is likewise termed Tawaaf al-Ifadah.
The heart (qalb), cleansed and purified from its attachments, inundated with love, desire and longing, floods to the haram, to the House, and to its Lord. There, it circumambulates the House and renews its pledge of complete and loving submission.
Sa‘i between Safa and Marwa
Sa‘i means to work, to strive, to act.
We remember in sa‘i the actions of Hajar (‘alayha al-salam) as she climbed, walked and ran up both Safa and Marwa looking for sustenance for her starving child. The miracle of Zam zam was gifted to Hajar for her efforts and sincere reliance. Rasulullah (sallalahu ‘alayhi wasallam) teaches that if we drink zam zam with firm faith and certainty, Allah will most definitely answer our supplication.
As servants of Allah, we are embedded in time and space. We must act, all the while cognizant that it is Allah who creates both cause and effect. To see waves upon waves of pilgrims walking and running between Safa and Marwa is to recognize that the reality of our life is constant sa‘i between struggle and reward, struggle and reward. On the hills of Safa and Marwa, where the pilgrim alights in reflection and supplication, the heart exalts, seeing Allah’s power in all matters, yours and others, large or small.
The days and nights of Muna
During our stay in Muna, we re-affirm and re-declare our desire and hope for spiritual freedom by casting pebbles for three days. Each casting of the pebbles cements our resolution to contain and confine both the lower self (nafs) and shaytan.
You remain in Muna as Allah’s guest. Here, we must eat and drink with the consciousness of a guest in front of a Most-Magnanimous Host. The greatest nourishment during these days, as Allah himself indicates, is His dhikr, or remembrance. We are destined to leave but Allah intends we leave gradually, in gratitude to Him, remembrance of Him and gathering a firm resolution for permanent change when we depart.
Then the last pebble is cast. Our final farewell is imminent.
Most have waited their entire lives for the encounter with the House of Allah. Many will never return. In truth, there is no certainty that any of us will ever gaze on the Ka‘bah again.
Whether we return or not, we will never forget. It is said – and it is true – that the Ka‘bah beckons you from afar, then haunts you forever.
It is related that Ibn ‘Abbas prayed this as his final farewell, clinging with his entire being to the multazam, the wall of the Ka‘bah between the hajar and the door:
“O Allah This House is Your House And this servant is Your servant, and the son of Your servants You have carried me here on what You have made accessible to me of Your creation Until You have made me reach, by Your grace, Your House And You have helped me fulfill my rites of Hajj (O Allah) If You have been pleased with me, then be more pleased with me And if You are not pleased with me, then I implore you to be generous to me now – Before my house becomes distant from Your house For now it is time for my departure, if You permit me – Never to exchange You for anything else, nor Your House for any other house Not being desirous of others instead of You, nor of any other house besides Your House O Allah, Grant me safety and good health in my body, protection in my religion and allow me a beautiful return And provide me with deeds and acts of Your obedience for as long as You grant me life And gather for me the best of this world and the next For truly You have power over all things.”
A mother once told her son that the Ka‘bah says: The one who does not see me will never rest; and the one who sees me will never rest.
May our hearts find their ultimate rest by journeying to Allah long after our bodies have returned from Hajj. May we always be in Hajj.
Hajj mabrur, my beloved brother and sister.
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1. The person who intends to perform Hajj must do so with the express niyyah of attaining Allah’s Pleasure, and to fulfil one’s fardh, and also to diligently carry out the Commands of Allah and His Rasool sallallahu alayhi wasallam. The rewards for deeds depend greatly on the niyyah that is formed. Sincerity is extremely important.
2. The ‘ibaadah of Hajj has the exclusive status of being fardh only once a lifetime, for those who can afford it. It is therefore important that the sincerity of intention must be given due regard. In other ‘ibaadaat and devotions it is possible to gradually develop ikhlaas, whereas the time available for Hajj is usually limited. The need for ikhlaas is vital because a fardh Hajj can never be repeated. During your journey to Hajj a concerted effort towards developing this all important sincerity must be made.
3. It is important that Hajj should be kept free of ulterior and worldly motives. Joining worldly objectives with religious aims is like adding water to milk. There are three types of adulteration which are possible in the performance of Hajj; To ruin the Hajj even before departing from home by having a desire to be called a haji, and using haraam or doubtful earnings for this ‘ibaadah. To engage in improper acts while performing Hajj e.g. to commit sins during the time that one is engaged in the performance of Hajj, to have arguments, not to make tawbah (repentance). To complete the Hajj and then to indulge in such deeds that defile the Hajj, e.g. to neglect the fardh salaat, to indulge in sin etc. Perform the Hajj with all its aadaab and requisites, for anything done in keeping with this is well accomplished.
4. While in Hajj do not do things to display to others. Do not announce your Hajj to all and sundry. (To avoid riyaa which is to show off and act to gain fame). On returning from Hajj do not emphasize the difficulties which may have been endured, instead turn your attention towards the eternal benefits and rewards you will receive. One must understand that the difficulties endured during this sacred journey are insignificant compared to the high position one will receive in jannah.
5. Before beginning one’s journey repent sincerely. Perform two rakaats nafl with the niyyah of tawbah. The effect of sincerely repenting and then proceeding for hajj will be, that one will be favoured by Allah Ta‘ala and blessed with the strength to continually do good deeds.
6. Develop a relationship with the pious person for guidance. This will assist you in making a true and sincere tawbah.
FULFILMENT OF DEBT
7. If you have monetary debt or are responsible for any moral transgression, then fulfil your debt or have it waived, and have your moral violations forgiven. It is important that one settles all outstanding matters and transactions, and has his faults and shortcomings forgiven.
8. All amaanaat (trusts) and anything borrowed must be returned. A detailed and final will must be made regarding all important matters.
9. It is compulsory for a person who wishes to perform Hajj to learn the necessary masaail well before the time of Hajj. When a firm intention is made then first learn the necessary masaail, or acquire these from a reliable and recognized aalim (scholar).
10. Depart with happiness from home. A Hajj which is performed with a feeling of love and keenness is conducive to religious upliftment. Inconvenience during travel should not hamper this love and keenness.
11. Perform two rakaats nafl before departing. Take care that this salaat is not performed during the makrooh times. Give some sadaqah to the poor before leaving home and also after commencing your journey.
12. Ask your near and dear ones, neighbours and friends to overlook and forgive your shortcomings. Make a request for their du‘aa. Make musafahah (shake hands) using both hands when leaving. Do not make musafahah with non-mahrams (those of the opposite sex whom you can marry).
13. Be at your best behaviour amongst your companions. Assist them in their needs. The person who helps his companions on this journey will be regarded as a mujaahid (one who strives to uplift Islaam).
Salaat, Du‘aa, Tawaaf and Tilaawat
14. Take great care and be punctual in the performance of all salaat with jama‘at whilst visiting the sacred places. Do not delay any salaat at all.
15. After every salaat beseech from Allah ta‘aalaa that He grant you a mabroor Hajj (one that is accepted and free from sin). A Hajj which is full of Allah ta‘aalaa’s Blessings and Favours.
16. A haji is fortunate in being present at the various sacred places where du‘aa are assured acceptance. Therefore repeatedly ask Allah ta‘aalaa for your needs of this world and the Hereafter. Your du‘aa must be appropriate and made with respect and humbleness. Do not ask for meaningless and unrighteous things.
17. There are three persons whose du‘aa are assured acceptance; the oppressed, the traveller and the father’s du‘aa for his son, (meaning children).
18. The qadhaa (fulfilment in arrears) of ‘ibaadaat which are owing to Allah ta‘aalaa should be correctly fulfilled or compensated.
19. The reward for one salaat in the Masjidul Haraam (Makkah) is 100,000 fold (with jama‘at 2,700,000). The reward for salaat in the Masjidun Nabawi (Madeenah) is 50,000 fold. Each good deed done in Makkah is equivalent in reward to 100,000 good deeds done elsewhere.
20. Whenever entering either of the two masjid or any other masjid, form a niyyah for nafl i‘tikaaf.
21. Your stay in the Masjidul Haraam and Masjidun Nabawi must be with utmost dignity and honour.
22. Perform as many tawaaf, umrah and nafl salaat as you can and make du‘aa that the thawaab (reward) of this be presented to Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam.
23. Complete the Qur’aan at least once in each of the two Holy Masjid, i.e. Makkah and Madeenah.
24. Perform nafl salaat with the niyyah of expressing one’s gratitude to Allah ta‘aalaa.
25. During your stay in Makkah abundantly increase your recital of the Kalimah Tayyibah: Laa’ilaha il lal’lahu·, and istighfar: ‘Astaghfirullah·.
26. If you desire, give an excellent gift to your near dear ones, friends who are living, and especially those who have passed away. The gift of the rewards of tawaaf and umrah will please their souls very much. There will be no reduction from your own reward for these acts.
27. Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam has said that the water of Zamzam will have the desired effect of whatever intention is made at the time of drinking Zamzam. Zamzam should be drunk with the intention of quenching the thirst of the Day of Qiyaamah (resurrection). It should also be taken with the intention of shifaa (cure) from spiritual and physical ailments. It is commendable to drink Zamzam with the niyyah of being granted the tawfeeq of conforming to the sunnah of our beloved Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam.
28. It is stated in hadeeth: (i) “Whoever comes with the sole intention of visiting my grave, my intercession will become incumbent for that person”. (ii) “Whoever visits my grave after my death is like the one who has visited me during my lifetime”.
29. Recite durood (salutations) in abundance on Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam, on beginning your journey to and from Madeenah Munawwarah, and during your stay there.
30. To hurt or cause inconvenience to any Muslim and especially the people of Madeenah Munawwarah is a great sin.
31. Choose an able pious companion who will assist you in times of need, and it is better if this companion is a reliable recognized aalim (scholar).
32. Regard the time in Hajj as a blessing. One never knows when one may be favoured with this good fortune again.
33. Since your stay there is a short one, you should value every moment there. Do not waste your time roaming in the bazaars and do not indulge in meaningless things and idle talk.
34. Do not allow your attention to drift towards the decoration and splendour of the buildings, nor indulge in humour and ridicule.
35. One must be extremely cautious with regard to the etiquette of these sacred places. Any disrespect in this regard will be a cause for retribution.
36. Do not criticize the conditions and people there. After all, the local residents are human and are prone to faults just as we are. When noticing the shortcomings of others, special attention must immediately be drawn to one’s own faults and weak points.
37. One must make a concentrated effort to avoid sin, especially casting passionate glances at female who are present at Hajj. One must keep one’s gaze lowered when women gather for tawaaf and salaat-u-salaam.
38. Hadhrat ‘Umar radhiyallahu anhu said, “For me to commit a sin in Makkah is worse than committing seventy sins outside Makkah”. Just as the rewards of good deeds are multiplied in Makkah, so too is the retribution of misconduct multiplied.
39. One must show consideration and take care that one does not trouble or inconvenience those who are present for Hajj and ziyaarah.
40. One must not deceive or trick others in buying or selling. To swindle or cheat the residents of Makkah or Madeenah would result in one’s own destruction. One must be extremely cautious in this regard. Transactions must be carried out with honesty.
Source: Islamic Da’wah Academy
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The month of Ramadhan is not like any other month; its purpose is to rid man of those habits which he has accumulated throughout the rest of the year. It is a month that prepares man for the remaining eleven months by teaching him discipline and self control. Thus, Allah has made some acts which are beloved to man, like eating, drinking and fulfilling one’s desires, Haraam. If man can control these desires in this month, which are usually permissible for him, then he can surely control himself from other desires which are not permissible throughout the remaining months.
This blessed month has been sent by Allah to His bondsmen so that can create a connection and draw closer to Allah by reaping the many rewards that lie in this month. A person who has been given the opportunity to be present in this month can take this as a sign that Allah Ta’ala has given him another opportunity to draw closer to Him and earn His paradise through worship in this month.
In this month we will be given many opportunities, as mentioned above to reform ourselves and seek forgiveness for our bad sins. This is a month of reformation and self reflection, where a believer can ponder of over spirituality and piety and bring a change for the better. The Prophet of Allah صلي الله عليه و سلم has clearly stated:
مَنْ لَمْ يَدَعْ قَوْلَ الزُّورِ وَالْعَمَلَ بِهِ فَلَيْسَ لِلَّهِ حَاجَةٌ فِي أَنْ يَدَعَ طَعَامَهُ وَشَرَابَهُ
“Whoever does not give up lying and evil actions, then Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink” [Saheeh al-Bukhari]
It is clear from this Hadeeth which has been narrated on the authority of Hadrhat Abu Huraira رضي الله عنه that Allah is not in need of any person to leave his food or drink. Allah is far from needs and desires. However, it is the mercy of Allah that He wants each and every person to leave those things which will lead him to the hellfire and by controlling one’s desires throughout this month it is hoped that one will be able to control himself throughout the following months also.
For those who can relate, we can look at the month of Ramadhan like an MOT test. It is vital to be on form during this test. Once the test is over then we should be at a standard where we can continue through the following months. Indeed, there will be repairs and faults in between, but these will be minor and can be dealt with on the spot.
May Allah Ta’ala make us successful in this test, for the one who is unsuccessful in this test may not be given an opportunity for a re-test.
ان جبرئيل عرض لي فقال بعد من ادرك رمضان فلم يغفر له قلت آمين
“Jibreel came to me and said, ‘Whoever reaches the month of Ramadan and does not have his sins forgiven and so enters the Fire, then may Allah distance him, say ameen.” So I said “Ameen” [Mustadrak al-Haakim]
In summary, the month of Ramadhan has been made so that mankind can take benefit of the merits and blessings contained within to change themselves for the better and by doing so create a bond with Allah that will continue throughout the eleven remaining months.
It is a month within which Allah has instructed us to place more emphasis on actions regarding our Deen (religion) as opposed to our daily routine and emphasis on worldly matters.
I pray that this information comes in use and aids the readers in preparing for the month of Ramadhan.
As a reminder, please commit the following Du’a to memory and make a habit of reciting it daily until the day of Ramdhan.
اللهم بارك لنا في رجب وشعبان وبلغنا رمضان
“O Allah, make the months of Rajab and Sha’ban blessed for us, and let us reach the month of Ramadhan.” [Musnad-e-Ahmed]
Source: Collection of Treasures
by Maulana Zain
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Prepare for Ramadan
Many of us have been counting the days remaining up to the holy month of Ramadan. Five days, four, three, two and the next thing you know here it is. For a believer the name of this month “Ramadan” gives the thought of joy, rewards and a feeling of Allah’s mercy. Truly, this is a season that should be awaited for. Anticipations and emotions for this month are not sufficient. This holy month requires action and activity. It is about altering our timetables and schedules, it demands us to train ourselves to attain Taqwa (fear of Allah or devotion to Him) which in turn, is the element to carry us successfully through the ongoing journey towards the hereafter (akhirah).
But let us ask ourselves have we really prepared for this month? Are we ready to dedicate more time for our spiritual revival ? During the month of Ramadan the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) would stay awake in the nights worshipping Allah, awaken his household and increase in worship. (Bukhari, Muslim). Even though we may have experienced many a Ramadans but every Ramadan must be treated as a once in a lifetime opportunity since we have no idea whether we will live till the next Ramadan. Let us look at a few ahadith concerning this holy period.
Increased Rewards & Forgiveness
What are the rewards of good deeds in the month of Ramadan? The reward of every Fardh (compulsory) act is multiplied seventy times while every Nafl (optional) act earns the reward of one Fardh out of Ramadan. (Ibn Khuzaymah). It is important to understand the latter aspect in its proper perspective. Tahajjud (Nafl Salah in the last third of the night) is an extremely great ibadah (worship). Great virtues have been narrated for this Salah. However, a lifetime of tahajjud cannot equal one Fardh of Fajr Salah! Yet in the month of Ramadan Almighty Allah grants us the reward of a Fardh action for every Nafl performed.
The fish in the sea seek forgiveness for those fasting until they break their fast . Allah decorates His Jannah (Paradise) every day and then says, “The time is near when My pious servants shall cast aside the great trials and come to me.” (Musnad Ahmed)
When Ramadan arrives, the gates of Paradise are flung open, the doors of the Hellfire are closed and the Shayateen are imprisoned. (Bukhari)
All good deeds are for the one who renders them, but fasting. Fasting is exclusively for me (Allah). (Bukhari)
The odour of the mouth of a fasting person is sweeter to Allah than the fragrance of musk.(Bukhari)
Fasting is a shield, as long as the fasting person does not tear it up (by disobedience) (Nasaee).
Not a single prayer made by a fasting person at the time of breaking the fast is rejected. (Ibn Majah)
The Nights of Ramadan
Whoever stands in prayer and worship in (the nights of) Ramadan, with Iman and with sincere hope of gaining reward , all his previous sins are forgiven. (Bukhari, Muslim)
Laylatul Qadr (The Night of Power)
Whoever stands in prayer and worship in the night of power with Iman and with sincere hope of gaining reward , all his previous sins are forgiven. ( Muslim)
Look for the night of power among the odd numbered nights of the last ten days of Ramadan. (Mishkat)
The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) observed I’etikaf for ten days every year in the month of Ramadan. In the year he passed away he observed it for twenty days. (Bukhari)
The Last Night Of Ramadan
On the last night of Ramadan the fasting Muslims are forgiven. (Musnad Ahmed)
It can be well comprehended from the above that during this month of Ramadan, Almighty Allah makes it easy for us to acquire His blessings, mercy and forgiveness. There can be no better time to attain this than this blessed month. All that is required on our part is to create in our hearts the desire, ambition, devotion, zeal, eagerness and that we exert increased efforts to acquire the pleasure of Almighty Allah.
While one should engage to the maximum in good deeds, the purpose of Ramadan must be kept foremost in mind, which is to acquire Taqwa. Thus together with the maximum amount of righteous actions one must totally refrain from all sins. We should ensure that no act of disobedience is committed. This abstinence in itself is a worship. One month of strictly conducting oneself in this manner will Insha-Allah have the effect of enabling one to live the next eleven months in a similar manner in the complete obedience of Allah. Thus, can we afford to waste this time? Can we still have time for “loafing?” Is it possible for a person who values Ramadan to spend hours eating? or loitering around after taraweeh feasts and gatherings?, or have time for any other idle pursuits? Can we afford to spend valuable time glued to the airwaves listening to the opinions and views of one and all, whereas that time could have been used to at least recite the Holy Quran or send Durood upon our beloved Prophet (p.b.u.h.)? And entertainment? How can it be possible? The last thing that any Muslim who values Ramadan should be bothered about is, who somewhere in the world is whacking a little red ball all over a field or who is kicking a ball between two posts! Let alone comedy or other shows!
Let us really make this Ramadan a profitable one that brings change in our life. We leave you with a quotation of the honorable Mufti Zubair Bayat:
All the “T’s” of Ramadan must be kept in mind so that when Ramadan comes, “everything is to the T!”. These “T’s” are: Tilawah, Tahajjud, Taraweeh, Tasbeehat, Tadharru’ (fervent Dua), Tatawwu’ (Nafl Ibadah), Tasahhur (eating Sehri/Suhoor), Taubah (repentance), Tawadhu (humility) and Tafakkur (contemplation). May Almighty Allah make this Ramadan a turning point in the life of the long-suffering Ummah. Aameen.
Jami’yyatul Ulama Canada
When we know we are to attend a wedding, we begin to plan and prepare from days and even weeks in advance. We pay much attention to detail so that we arrive to the function on time, are dressed up smartly with clean/ new shoes, have organised a place to stay, eat carefully so as not to ruin our clothing and so on. In a similar way we prepare and plan for other important events, functions, interviews etc.
However, when it comes to approaching our Islamic duties/ obligations we do so little in advance, especially for Ramadan. For some reason we feel we can flick a switch and become great pious personalities overnight. In fact, while this may work short term, in the long term you will more likely ‘burn out’ and return to your former self or in a worse condition. Is it not true afterall that in the middle of the month Ramadan the Masjid halls during taraweeh are at half capacity to what they were in the first few days??
Therefore it is much better we prepare and plan for our deeni activity, much like we do for the dunya ones and inshallah in this manner we can make the most of the blessed month of Ramadan and remain consistent upon the a’maal we adopt.
Anyway, with Ramadan due to start soon I thought it would be good to make a list of things in preparation for Ramadan. Please leave your comments and suggestions as well, via the comments below.
- Increase in recitation of the Quraan. If possible, complete a minimum of 1 part to daily so as to make 1 whole complete recital of the Holy Quran during Ramadan.
- Try and perform 4 rakah (units) of tahajjud before partaking in Suhoor.
- Learn a, or many prophetic duas in Arabic.
- As much as one can keep Allah in your heart by doing Dhikr eg: La ilaaha illallah, Allahu-akbar, Subhan-Allah, Alhumdulillah etc.
- Devoting more sincerity and concentration into our existing daily prayers.
- Try and utilise the month to give up smoking.
- For the more foul mouthed amongst us, try to refrain from swearing the whole month. Friends can help here by lightly hitting or gently reminding his/ her friend each time they swear that they shouldn’t do it. (please note, I take no responsibility for any limbs that may be broken from the above suggestion!)
A small request I make is that if a brother or sister becomes more religious simply for the month of Ramadan, then rather than shooting our mouth off, saying he/ she is a hypocrite and its only for Ramadan etc, why don’t we give gentle words of encouragement so they might continue their virtuousness even after the month of Ramadan. Why should we be so mean to taunt them about what we THINK is only temporary on their part?
If we were to step back a moment and realise that this is the last Ramadan we will see in our lifetime, how would we spend it? How many Muslims do you know of who aren’t around this year to see Ramadan?
Death we know can come to us at any time, yet we still remain so ignorant of the blessing of the time now given to us to be utilised by Allah the Almighty.
I pray Allah gives, first of all me, and all Muslims the ability to utilise the month of Ramadan and safeguard ourselves from the punishment hereafter, Ameen.
by Brother Ahmed
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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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Gym bag – useful to carry your musalla in, and once inside haram footwear also
- safety pins
- Money belt
- Flip flops
- Sleeping bag
- Light jacket for Muzdalifa
- Small bag for pebbles
- Sun glasses/ shades
- 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.