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6 Essential Ways to Spiritually Prepare for Hajj

by in Soul on 5th June, 2024

Hajj is upon us. This year, you are anticipating the moment it begins since you made the decision to embark on a once in a lifetime journey and complete the final pillar of Islam.

Besides packing essentials, you are also preparing mentally for days of absolute devotion. 

If you have been thinking and planning to go to Hajj, your spiritual conditioning starts with knowing you are indeed one of the privileged guests of Allah (SWT). The sole goal of your journey is to accomplish Hajj Mabrur, meaning an accepted Hajj, that will guarantee you Jannah. To attain this deeply emotional goal, your spiritual preparation is paramount.

If you are still at the stage of contemplating the idea of doing Hajj, don’t let anything stop you. Formulate the intention to go, start saving and don’t ever think you are “not religious enough” to be invited by Allah (SWT) to complete it. . 

But how should you really prepare for Hajj? How do you go from your daily life filled with worries over worldly affairs to conditioning your mind to focus on days to weeks of exclusive acts of worship? For the few days of your journey, you will sacrifice your sleep, the comfort of home made meals and time spent entertaining yourself, to focus on making the best of your pilgrimage.

It is important to remember that Hajj is the best training we will ever receive to learn how to focus on what really matters as believers who have been given the gift of life and who made a covenant with their Lord when we were first created. Hajj reminds us of our origin story and that our true purpose in life is to worship our Rabb. Everything else is secondary. 

In this article, we will explore six ways to prepare spiritually and maintain your concentration throughout your journey to successfully accomplish a Hajj that brings your heart and soul peace and closeness to Allah (SWT).

1. Formulate your Intention to Perform Hajj

Hajj starts with the firm intention to do it for the sake of Allah (SWT) exclusively. Your intention is so important, it consecrates your state of Ihram. Prior to leaving, make dua that Allah (SWT) allows you to go to Hajj in the best condition to accomplish all your acts of worship. Once you are ready to enter Makkah in your Ihram, you will formulate a formal intention to perform the ritual of Hajj. 

2. Study as Much as you Can

You will likely be around guides who will lead the way and teach you everything you have to say or do. 

However, it is best to be personally aware of all the steps of Hajj prior to going. With the advent of the internet, we have some amazing Hajj resources at our fingertips. Knowing the meaning of the acts of worship you will be performing, is not only practical, but also grants you an immersive experience as you start to understand what you are doing and the reason you are doing it. 

Studying in preparation for Hajj can be overwhelming. Here are specific details you should look up:

  • How to perform Umrah including performing Tawaf and Sa’ee
  • How to make impactful du’as 
  • The rules of being in state of Ihram
  • The journey through Mina, Arafah and Muzdalifah
  • Learn the Talbiyah and the Takbeer that you will be reciting all through your Hajj

Once you’ve entered the state of Ihram, you begin reciting the following invocation called the Talbiyah:

لَبَّيْكَ اللَّهُمَّ لَبَّيْكَ، لَبَّيْكَ لاَ شَرِيْكَ لَكَ لَبَّيْكَ، إِنَّ الْحَمْدَ وَالنِّعْمَةَ لَكَ وَالْمُلْكَ لاَشَرِيْكَ لَكَ

Labbayka Allāhumma labbayk. Labbayk lā shareeka laka labbayk. Inna al-ḥamda, wa n-‘imata, Laka wal mulk. Lā shareeka lak.

“Here I am, O Allah, here I am, here I am. You have no partner, here I am. Verily all praise and blessings are Yours, and all sovereignty. You have no partner.”

You can also keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah (SWT) throughout the days of Hajj by reciting the Tasbeeh, Tahmeed, Tahleel and Takbeer constantly. It is a beautiful way to showcase your gratitude to Allah (SWT) for His mercy in inviting you to perform the final pillar of Islam. 

سُبْحَانَ ٱللَّٰهِ ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّٰهِ لَآ اِلٰهَ اِلَّا اللّٰهُ  اللّٰهُ أَكْبَر

SubhanAllah, Alhamdullilah, La ilaha illa Allah, Allahu Akbar. 

“Glory is to Allah, All praise is due to Allah, None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, Allah is the greatest.”

This is one of the simplest forms of worship that can be carried out whilst doing almost anything else

Ibn Masud narrated that,

Then Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said: “I met Ibrahim on the night of my ascent, so he said: ‘O Muhammad, recite Salam from me to your nation, and inform them that Paradise has pure soil and delicious water, and that it is a flat treeless plain, and that its seeds are: “Glory is to Allah (Subhan Allah) [and] all praise is due to Allah (Alhamdullilah) and ‘none has the right to be worshipped but Allah’ (La ilaha illa Allah), and Allah is the greatest (Allahu Akbar).” (Tirmidhi)

You can read some of these articles to help guide you in above:

Lessons from Hajj

Duas for Umrah

How to Perform Umrah

The Story of Hajar and Divine Acceptance

What to Pack for Hajj & Mina: The Ultimate Checklist

Duas for the Day of Arafah

Learning the Seerah of the Prophets of Allah (SWT) also helps give context and meaning to every step you take. A lot of the emotional moments will stem from understanding the depth of your acts of worship when you know how important they were to the Prophets (AS). It’s important to learn about the three forms of Hajj and their specificities:

  1. Hajj al-Tamatu: This is the most common type of Hajj performed by the majority of people. You wear your ihram twice, once for performing Umrah and then second time for Hajj. In addition, you will sacrifice an animal like a lamb or goat.
  2. Hajj al-Ifrad: This is usually performed by the residents of Miqat, haram, and Jeddah. While the pilgrims wear ihram, they do so only to perform Hajj, not for Umrah and they do not sacrifice an animal.
  3. Hajj al-Qiran: For Hajj al-Qiran, you perform Hajj and Umrah simultaneously in one state of Ihram, from the moment you arrive in Makkah to the moment you complete your Hajj, as well as sacrifice an animal.

The Hajj you choose will impact various aspects of your journey. For example, if you wear your ihram throughout your stay in Makkah until Hajj, you’ll need to pack lighter. If you need to pay for a ram to sacrifice on the day of Eid, you’ll need to budget for it. Being in the state of ihram has specific requirements that will affect your experience. This knowledge will help ensure you’re not constantly asking questions about what you can or cannot do, avoiding any surprises.

3. Carry a Du’a Journal

Prior to leaving, start a du’a journal and list all your du’as, no matter how big or small, that you would like to supplicate once you are in the holy cities. 

Before you leave, many of your near and dear will ask you to make du’as for them or give their salam to Prophet (ﷺ) at the Rawdah in Madinah. In order to remember them all, make a separate list of the  family and friends you want to pray for, including any specific requests or du’as they have made. The closest your family and friends will get to doing Hajj without going this year, is through knowing you will pray for them. 

For convenience, you can also jot down and save your du’a list in a digital journal, like a Notes app on your phone which you can continuously update. You can also send a Google form to your relatives so that they can inscribe their personal du’as.

4. Manage your Time

During Hajj, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the huge crowds and limited amount of time you get in each city. Depending on the length of your journey in Madinah and Makkah, you can plan ahead for the moments you will spend at the Masjid or the Haram. 

Past the moments of marvel, you will want to divide your time between reading the Qur’an, doing dhikr and praying Tahajjud at night. You can also prepare for a sleeping schedule that will allow you to spend some of the nights praying until Fajr and more importantly, that will allow you to rest without missing on your own obligatory prayers. 

A typical day in Madinah or Makkah could look as followed 

  • Go to sleep after breakfast
  • Wake up at 12pm for Dhuhr
  • Spend the moments between prayers reading Qur’an or making du’as
  • Dinner after Isha
  • Go back to the masjid at 1 am for Tawaf or Tahajjud
  • Stay until Fajr then go back to the hotel

Should you choose to spend extensive time in the Haram, manage your time well and make sure you eat a good meal before or after. Planning for a routine will give you the sense of maximising your time dedicated to acts of worship.

5. Prepare for Mina and Arafat

Mina and Arafat are the heart of Hajj.

Narrated ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Ya’mar that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: 

“The Hajj is ‘Arafat, the Hajj is ‘Arafat, the Hajj is ‘Arafat. The days of Mina are three: But whoever hastens to leave in two days, there is no sin on him, and whoever stays on, there is no sin on him. And whoever sees (attends) the ‘Arafah before the rising of Fajr, then he has performed the Hajj.” (Tirmidhi)

The anticipation of getting in your Ihram and going to Mina is special. It gives you a special awareness of your particular state, ready to meet Allah (SWT) as pure as you could be. From the moment you formulate your intention, nothing else matters. As you focus on reciting the Talbiyah and Takbeer, take the time to reflect on their meaning and internalise it.

The days of Mina and Arafat are dedicated to praying to Allah (SWT). No matter the kind of living conditions you get, try and focus on the main purpose of your presence on those blessed plains. Food might not be the best, sleeping arrangements may be uncomfortable, temperature may be too hot or too cold – but none of these things matter during these significantly spiritual days. This is the moment you exercise your mind to cling onto the routine you’ve planned ahead.

You can also set some personal goals in order to make the best of these blessed days: 

  • Internalise the Talbiyah and Takbeer
  • Constantly make du’a for your Duniya and Aakhirah, for your family, for your friends, for the Ummah and for the oppressed Muslims around the world
  • Continuously do Dhikr 
  • Read the Qur’an daily (setting a goal of 2 juz a day for example)
  • Listen to a Seerah series you have downloaded on your phone in advance during your rest time

You will also be tempted to document your Hajj for personal memories or to share with your loved ones, which is understandable. But try as much as you can to keep your phone away and focus on your acts of worship. Maybe take a moment to snap some pictures, then tuck your phone away to concentrate on your ibadah.

In a way, Hajj is more of a test on your nafs than it really is about accomplishing acts of worship. During this incredibly spiritual time you will forget about yourself, you will forget about your problems, you will forget about your desires and your preferences. Your mind and body will be in tune with your objectives. You will find that you don’t particularly get hungry, you will stay up all night sitting in front of the Ka’bah, mesmerised by the view in front of you, without noticing the hustle and bustle around you or worrying about sleep.

6. Have Taqwa

Hajj is a personal meeting with Allah (SWT). You will feel that sense of belonging to the Ummah of Rasul Allah (ﷺ) as soon as you step foot in the holy land. 

My personal advice is to turn inwards and block the outside noise. On the day of Arafah, just knowing that on this day, in this very moment, Allah (SWT) is looking at you, is listening to you and that everything you ask and He (SWT) will answer, is an indescribable feeling that provides a sense of awareness that is beyond any words. You don’t want to miss out on it. 

When performing Hajj and Umrah, have the firm belief that every single dua you make will be accepted and in the end your Hajj will also be accepted. Be bold, ask for the impossible and go beyond the limits of your mind.

Through your journey, make it a point to perform acts of service and cultivate a sense of patience toward your Hajj mates, providing help when needed and being generous with your resources. It is crucial to remember that everybody goes through the exact same journey as yours. Everyone present at Hajj is a special guest of Allah (SWT). Everybody is going to pray at the same time and you will hear everybody reciting the same dhikr as you on multiple occasions. This sense of speaking the universal language of Islam is in itself an incredible sensation.

Hajj happens outside of time. The notion of days and hours fade away the moment you arrive in Madinah or Makkah. Whatever the world news is about, whatever is happening on social media will cease to exist to you until your plane touches down back home. So enjoy the experience fully and take every single occurrence as such, a unique experience. 

As your journey progresses through Hajj and your worldly luggage gets smaller and smaller, you will end up in Muzdalifah, lying down on hard ground without a roof over your head. As you look up at the stars and the sky, reflect on what it means for you when you will go back to your regular life vs when you will return to Your Lord.

One question to ask ourselves is, “Do we really need the amount of physical and emotional baggage we collect throughout our lives or can we truly let go of “stuff” and sacrifice that which is beloved to our nafs for the sake of Allah (SWT) alone, which is the way of Prophet Ibrahim (AS), in whose footsteps we are carrying out this journey of a lifetime?”

We don’t have to be a perfect Muslim to go to Hajj, but Hajj is the journey that transforms us and helps us to be a better Muslim and attain taqwa. Hajj is the final frontier, a once in a lifetime opportunity where Allah (SWT) wants us to visit Him, to turn us into the best version of ourselves. 

May Allah (SWT) grant all of us this opportunity to be His special guests and may He (SWT) grant us all a Hajj Mabrur! Ameen. 

Absatou Ndiaye

Absatou Ndiaye

Absatou is a 39 year old Senegalese woman, residing in Dakar. A graduate in International Relations and Diplomacy, she also pursued a Master Degree in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies. She is currently working as a political advisor in her home country. Absatou is passionate about the Seerah and Islamic studies in general. She often shares her passion on social media. Twitter: @absatou IG: @iamabsatou