I just came back from a trip to Disney World yesterday. Allhumdullillah it was tons of fun! Maybe it was the fact that I kept thinking about how to organize my final Hajj tips posts while waiting in line, but the similarities between a trip to Disney World and Hajj were striking. Hear me out before you accuse me of being sacrilegious!
Though Hajj is a religious ritual (my husband argues that Disney World trip is too for many),it is also a once in a lifetime ‘thing to do’, many people spend life savings on their trip (the die-hard- 15 day- trip- fans) and most importantly, people come with enormous expectations of how they imagine this experience to be. Also the heat, the huge crowds and the amount of walking are kinda similar to the pilgrimage experience. Anyhow, what I found most similar is the type of people we become under such situations. I saw the same two groups of people at Hajj and at Disney World.
The day we went to Magic Kingdom it started to rain-the thunder was deafening and they shut down most of the rides. Immediately people fell into two categories: 1) the complainers and 2) the prepared.
The complainers were in a state of panic, not sure if they should protect their belongings from the rain or themselves. They desperately looked for places to buy overly priced ponchos and grumbled over what a waste of money it was. They complained about the time wasted waiting for the rain to finish. They were depressed that their $100 plus tickets had gone to waste etcetera, etcetera. Scowling and standing around,they surely didn’t look like they were at the happiest place on earth.
The prepared immediately pulled out their ponchos that they paid $1 for from the dollar store at home (verses $15 from Disney shops) and headed straight for the indoor rides that are not affected by the rain. They knew that it rains in Florida and as part of their Touring Plans they had their list of indoor rides prepared depending on which area they were in when caught in the rain (if in Fantasyland head straight to Peter Pans Flight, if in Futureland head to Space Mountain etc). The prepared not only didn’t waste any time , they actually profited from the rain and the shorter line ups.
When something doesn’t happen according to plan- trust me it will, you will see the two camps of Hajji’s form immediately.
The complainers will panic and start riling up others around them. They will probably start committing sin by backbiting about their Hajj group and leaders ( it IS backbiting when you complain and blame them for everything and wonder what they spent your money on ). They will argue with the Shaikhs about fiqh issues, they will fight with fellow Hajji’s over lack of seating, being pushed during tawaf and ‘stolen’ slippers.
The prepared will pull out their Qu’rans, and start to read (and probably their earplugs to drown out the complainers), or they will search for ways to be of service to others or simply do some dhikr quietly. When they are told that there’s a change of plans they will focus on HOW to make it work, not on WHY it happened.
The prepared have purpose and are focused on making the most of every situation. They have shining faces and experience every situation positively. The complainers unfortunately wreck every situation usually because they weren’t prepared and because of a bleak perspective. Like I mentioned in my last post, if you find yourself becoming a complainer or scowling – just start to smile, your brain will follow and release feel good chemicals all over your body. Also, try your best to avoid the complainers like the plague- you just don’t want to be caught up in that negativity.
I want to point out that Complainers are not a breed of ill-mannered ‘bad people’. They are you and I just poorly prepared and under a whole lot of stress. “The straw that broke the camel’s back” describes them at pretty much every stressful situation, the broken bus, the missed meal, the dirty washrooms; everything is the final straw for them.
No one wants any regrets upon returning from Hajj. Most people wish they were more patient and appreciative of every single experience. My advice:
- Be prepared: knowing is half the battle. You know to expect to be pushed and shoved, to maybe lose your luggage, to walk a lot, etc.
- Be patient: can’t stress it enough. Hajj is test after test. You can pass every test by being grateful and patient.
- Smile: Smiling is a Sunnah and it has the power to transform your mood, actions and experiences.
While doing research for my favourite readers (YOU), I came across this list by Muhammad Al Shareef:
50 Things to do While at Hajj
2. Say salaam to strangers
3. Shake someone’s hand and ask about his/her health
4. Buy tea for someone
5. Offer to get someone’s groceries
6. Sit with a Hajj group from another country and ask about Islam in their village
7. Carry someone’s bags for them
8. Guide someone ill to the infirmary
9. Shun vain talk
10. Recite talbiyah loudly, encouraging others
11. On the days of Eid, walk through the tents reciting talbiyah loudly reminding others
12. Gather stones for people
13. Offer to throw on behalf of unable hajjis
14. Guide people to the Jamarat
15. Lower your gaze
16. Remind people of the lives of the Sahaabaa
17. Read Qur’an with the tafseer
18. Do the authentic dhikr of the morning and evening
19. Make du’a during your sajdah
20. Stand to the side of a gate and offer people water/tea as they leave
21.Give major attention to shy people in your group
22. Remind people of patience, why they came here, and the example of our ‘ulama in Hajj
23. Explain a Hajj khutbah you may have heard to those around you
25. Phone relatives (from Makkah) on Eid day
26. Make du’a for forgotten friends (and the author of this list)
27. Don’t allow Muslims to fight during Hajj
28. Help people find a place to sleep
29. During the heat, remember the unending torment of the Hellfire
30. Say Laa ilaaha illAllah, wahdahu laa shareeka lahu, lahul mulk wa lahul hamd, wa huwa ‘alaa kulli shay’in qadeer 100 times
31. Say the du’a of entering the market place when you go there
32. Give charity to those who sell meager things (i.e. sandals, eggs, etc.)
33. Attend the halaqas that are given in Mina
34. Stay for the 13th of Dhul Hijjah
35. Remind people to go home as better Muslims
36. Forgive people who wrong you
37. Talk to 10 different people from 10 different countries
38. Compliment someone sincerely
39. Visit the hospital and thank Allah for all that He has given you
41. Give a tafseer class after salah / ask someone knowledgeable to deliver the class
42. On the days of Eid, offer perfume to those around you (for men only)
43. Ask about the health of senior women in your group. Make sure they are attended to.
44. Focus hard on helping those immediately near you
45. Take people to the slaughter house and help them or assist them in purchasing their slaughter coupons
46. Remember specific blessings Allah has bestowed upon you and say alhamdulillah
47. Pray to Allah using His 99 Most Beautiful Names (Al-Asmaa’ Al-Husna)
48. Use a miswak
49. Fill your pockets with candies and give some to the children you meet
50. Always hope for rewards from Allah for everything you go through during Hajj
My Addition to the list:
51: Remember Chai with Sahar and make lots of dua for her and her family!
Now back to my Billion or so Hajj tips and tricks.
Before going for Hajj,washrooms was something I constantly heard about and actually feared. Honestly they were NOT that bad. Then again the only time I had to use a public washroom (during non-Hajj days) was in the food court outside of the haaram- otherwise I tried my best to never ever use public washrooms. Unfortunately the washrooms directly outside the haaram in Mecca can be smelled from far far away 🙁 . During my research I was told to make sure you never need to use them, always use the ones in your hotel before leaving. Obviously if your hotel is very far from the haaram you will have to use public washrooms- make duah that you always find them clean!
- Your hotel washroom will probably come with a hose instead of a jug-please test it out before using it! That thing has crazy pressure and will make all your clothes wet! It’s like this out of control snake spraying all over the room. Simply hold it above the toilet or drain in the floor and LIGHTLY press the trigger to see how much water comes out BEFORE using it.
- The soap in your hotel is NOT scent free! Be careful not to use it during the state of ihram.
During the days of Hajj everything changes and you have to share washrooms with millions of people. Hopefully these tips will help:
1) Whenever you reach a place the FIRST thing you should do is use the washrooms..it’ll only get worse later.
2)The sitting toilets are on the extreme left and right of a row of stalls.
3)The crouching toilet is actually more hygienic than the sitting toilets.
4) Use the washrooms while others are eating. (Breakfast or dinner time)
5) Don’t take your time in the washroom, be as quick as possible- you don’t want to be the reason someone misses their salah or is late for joining a jamah
6) In order to avoid using the washroom many people barely drank anything, the problem with that is that you might get dehydrated and faint. Allhumdullillah the washroom situations are way better than they were in the past, even if they weren’t – it’s better that you endure gross washrooms than to compromise your Hajj due to poor health.
7)Many people drop their soap on the floor while showering in Minaa. The problem is that the showers are a few inches away from the toilet. If you’re in a Eastern style toilet stall, you will lose your soap. Solution: Make a hole in your soap bar and put rope through it. Wear this rope around your neck while you shower. You can also purchase ‘soap on a rope’ at camping stores.
8) Take those metal hangers from dry cleaners or single over -the- door- hooks hang from the top of the door in your washroom stalls to hang your towel, clothes or toiletry bags
For our washrooms in Minaa they had cleaners in charge of 2-3 stalls each.They spent the whole day cleaning the washrooms after us. Once I went to the washroom in the middle of the night- in the corner of the washroom next to the stalls I saw the workers sleeping on the floor !! It was so wrong. It’s not fair that we slept in air conditioned tents on plush mattresses while these women who worked all day long, slept in the dirtiest of places. Allhumdullillah the women in our group generously tipped them at the end. I know they say travel light etc, I wish I knew that we would be in contact with so many needy people. If you have the space in your luggage I recommend taking clothes or toiletries for them. Imagine how useful even your old clothes could be?
Though there are laundromats everywhere we never ended up using them during our three week trip. We took powdered laundry detergent in a seal-able plastic bag to clean our clothes in the washroom sink (mainly the armpit area or obvious stains). Allhumdullillah when we reached the Hajj building (just before Hajj starts you will be moved to either a hostel type building or a hotel etc) the maids offered to wash our clothes for whatever price you wanted to pay them. They technically weren’t supposed to be doing this..but I’m so grateful they did!
- Bring clothes pins to hang up your clothes to dry, or they will end up on the floor once dried.
- Bring garbage bags with you to put your dirty clothes in them. A scented dryer sheet would help your dirty clothes smell nice too
- Remember my tips about underwear
A few readers have messaged me privately about not having any Hajj classes or materials from their Hajj group. Initially my plan was to only talk about practical Hajj tips to make the experience easier and to not enter into the spiritual side of Hajj. I’m actually quite sad for those readers who are going to embark on this important journey without any direction. I have been researching and preparing the simple spiritual steps of Hajj and Insha’Allah will be posting it very soon.
For the rest of the Billion Hajj Tips and Trick series:
There’s still a few more cups of Hajj chai to come!