I did Hajj in 2023, and here are the 5 things to do before going for Hajj that helped me enjoy my experience more. I feel there is so much advice and yet so little advice on the internet when I was searching for answers, so I hope these Hajj series on MuslimTravelGirl.com give you a glimpse into what it might be for you.
I will also be doing these as a YouTube series since, during a video, I can explain in more detail some of the aspects that I want and feel are important.
Before I start, I will say that I did my Hajj as a Saudi resident since my husband works in Saudi Arabia and I have a residency there. It was also one of the reasons we decided for him to take his job in Saudi because I always wanted the best possible Hajj for the least money. So I guess Alhumdulillah, my dua, was accepted.
Our Hajj was only the 6 days of the rituals, not the extra week or two that pilgrims go for from abroad.
The Hajj process and preparation for the trip, however, are the same no matter where you start.
5 Things to Do Before Going for Hajj
1 Start walking
If you do not exercise, I would highly suggest you start walking every single day, several times a day. I mean, 10,000 steps are baby steps when it comes to Hajj. On some days, we walk well over 50,000 steps(approx 24 miles). Depending on where your tents are in Mina, you will find it hard if you don’t walk.
If you cannot walk outside, then I would suggest getting one of those walking pads for your house that don’t take much space and are a good way to take steps. Plus, it’s not overly expensive.
I used to go to the gym every day and do classes to build my physical strength.
2. You will never be ready until you do it
We had the opportunity to go for Hajj last year in 2022 when the numbers were limited, but I always felt I was not ready for Hajj. I am not sure why I thought that. It was more like I was not worth it, or I was scared I would mess up this huge journey in my life that I kept avoiding.
When my husband said we were going and he found a spot on the app at the last minute, I was happy and scared at the same time. However, I decided to embrace it as much as I could and pray any mistakes would be forgiven.
If you feel this way, trust me, it is not as overwhelming as it sounds at the beginning. Once I changed my mentality, I became excited.
I feel the same is true for people who go for Umrah the first time. Now, planning an Umrah is a process I can do in my sleep.
3. Research as much as you can about the rituals
I found the actual steps of Hajj super confusing when I was reading at home. I also thought that there would be so much to do in so little time and that I would be busy for the whole five days. This is not the case.
We only went for the Hajj days, as Saudi residents don’t need to stay the extra days in Makkah and Medinah. Our package was only for the actual six days of Hajj.
I can’t say you will familiarise yourself with Mina or the rituals, and it will be easy, but it will give you an idea of what to expect. Just know that there is also a lot of waiting around during Hajj with idle time.
One thing for sure to keep in mind is that the distances are huge. If you have been for Umrah, they pale in comparison. For example, we got “lost” as they had closed some entrances in the stoning area, and it took us 5,000 extra steps to get back to where we started. 🙂 I measured everything is steps because time and miles just don’t exist in those distances. 🙂
So, research the actual rituals like going to Arafat (which is not what I expected), but planning routes and things to do based on other people’s recommendations might not be possible. They change all the time.
I also trusted my husband to know where we were going, so that took the pressure out as well.
There are some of the videos I watched before going
4. Write down your dua list
One thing I did before my Hajj was to write down very specific duas. I listened to many videos on YouTube, but my favourite are from Muhammed Alshareef (may Allah be pleased with him). He has so many amazing treasures and nuggets on duas.
Raise your duas, and make the craziest, amazing duas because there is no better time than Arafat duas. They will be answered. Believe this with full conviction even when you are writing them at home.
I also had asked people to send me their duas on my mailing list. MashaAllah, over 500 did, and I will forever treasure their trust in me. Some of my duas and other people’s have been answered, and I know the rest will too.
When you have your duas before starting your Hajj, you don’t have to stress about thinking or making them up on the day. Yes, you can add extras, but your core duas are written for you to remember and read. This helped me a lot. Hajj is dua, so if you take one thing, plan your best duas.
Also, save your duas on a notebook and also on your phone. I had my Chromebook with me, and it synched with my notes on my phone. This way, every time I remembered a dua, it was synched everywhere. On Arafat day, I read from my Chromebook (since I had 500 other duas), and it made my life much easier.
5. Have no expectations
If you are like me, you want to know where you will be staying and everything you can do to plan and not fail on your Hajj, like reading this post. But know your Hajj experience will be different than anyone else, even the people in the same room like you.
My best advice for you when you go to Hajj is to not have any expectations of your experience, your accommodations, food or anything else. The lower your expectations, the better your experience.
I wasn’t sure where my husband booked us. I saw the photos and the location on the Nusuk app, but when we arrived, it was different, better, different. But if I had hyped myself on the photos, I would have been disappointed because, for example, the location was up a very steep hill!
I hated that hill, but the view at the top was amazing.
People who have been before will share their experiences, like my friend who made it sound like the tents were horrific and I had taken with me so many things I didn’t need. I would still take them even going now because, again, you don’t know what to expect. Still, every person’s experience is different because it is based on their circumstances, tolerances and personality.
Also, don’t let other people shame your Hajj. It really annoyed me that people would comment on my tent that it was luxury compared to others.
Yes, it was, but also, there is no shame in what you can afford. Considering we went for five days, we moved to Saudi for it and paid for it with savings. It is non of their business. This poor, sacrificial mentality is not Islam.
Don’t get me wrong, some tents were horrendous, and some experiences were too, but everyone is tested differently.
I am a very resilient person. I expected to sleep on the floor, and when I saw my nice tent, I was saying Alhumdulillah. But there were people in my tent who kept complaining. So again, perspective and expectations.
Preparing for the worst and expecting the best is my motto in these circumstances.
Hajj is one of the best journeys you can do, but it can also be a huge test for you. My test was not in my actual physical body or accommodation; although I did get sick, I felt the fact I left my daughter at home for a week and I kept seeing her cry on camera asking for mummy was my real test. Hajj is emotional, and there are moments you might doubt your abilities, but we all know Allah doesn’t put more than you can handle on you.
Sometimes, your tests are different than the ones you expect; keep an open mind on the whole journey. Hajj is meant to be a test with a reward of Jennah insha’Allah.
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