Most Hajj classes focus on the idea of the different stations at which the Haji will find himself once he reaches the Holy Lands. A seasoned Hajj guide and traveller, Moulana Abdur Rahmaan Laily digs deep into his personal pilgrimage experiences to offer a bouquet of seldom heard gems for the Hajj traveller.
Before departure – If Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) or any of the Sahabah RA nurtured by him were to find out about anyone who was about to travel and went to offer greetings at their home but were unable to find them, they were assured in still being able to find the pilgrim at a particular place. The last port of call for anyone departing on the journey of Hajj was visiting the Masjid. This is one of the Sunnan of of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) that is not practiced enough anymore. It is not a Sunnah that’s exclusive to the journey of Hajj but it was common at any time of travel. Sometimes when we speak about Hajj, we speak about elements peripheral to Hajj but don’t add to the spiritual value of the Hajj. Like the practice of making the last place one visits before departing from their locality the masjid and offering two rakaats Salaah there.
At the airport – Allah Subhanahu wa ta ‘ala says in the Quraan, “and whatever of good you do, Allah is knowledgeable with regards to it.” For the Hajj traveller who is departing from any airport in the world, the manner in which you conduct yourself at check in, and deal with officials – in a South African context where travellers are told that only passengers are allowed beyond a certain point, be respectful of the rules and the people. Deal with people with good manners and good akhlaaq. Be aware that “whatever of good you do, Allah is knowledgeable with regards to it” in your actions and you will see the benefits of it. These little elements create a global warmth towards Islam. These actions create a global leaning towards the signs of Allah Subhanahu wa ta ‘ala.
Acceptance of an invitation requires an offering – We take from our pious predecessors the etiquette of hosting and being hosted. None of us would respond to anyone’s invitation to visit their home empty handed as a token of appreciation for their hospitality. We are journeying to city of Allah Subhanahu wa ta ‘ala’s most beloved, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), what is it that we are taking as an offering to Allah’s most beloved? Our spiritual elders teach us that what we take is the practice of reciting, at minimum, the Surah Al Kauthar. When focusing on the meaning of this Surah, we realise it’s connected with the idea of abundance and Allah Subhanahu wa ta ‘ala creating this mentality amongst the people who go for Hajj. The recitation of Surah Kauthar serves as the offering we would take when accepting an invitation.
Sending Salaam – Madinatul Munawwarah is the land of Durood. When sending off those who are going for Hajj, we want to send them off asking them to convey our Salaams to Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). It is something that must have depth and meaning behind it. If it is filled with depth and meaning then the manner in which those who are left behind send their Salaam is by reciting abundant Salawaat upon Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). This must not be lip service by just asking the prospective Haji to convey your salaam.
Spending time in the Arabian Peninsula– when it comes spending time in the Arab lands, most of us would adopt one of two approaches. We would either go with the attitude that say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. The nature of Arabs is that they are nocturnal and most of their activities are conducted in the night and they rest during the day. The other approach is that, back in South Africa where Ibadah is done during the day and we are diurnal people who rest during the evening. If we adopt either of these approaches, we would be selling ourselves very short. A proposed plan of living is living three days in one day, given that time spent in Madinah is short, is to take each 24 hour day and break it in three segments of eight hours. Generally a day is roughly divided between some work, some nutrition for the body and some rest. In these three segments, a traveller would make sure they have done some “work” – Ibadah, taken some rest and had some nutrition. Commencing in the early hours, at around 2h30am, this is the time the Haji would rise so that they could be in the Haram of Makkah and Madinah, at least an hour before Fajr salaah. The benefit of this is that you get a consistent quota of Ibadah before every Salaah by making it a practice of being at the Haram an hour before Salaah. If one manages to achieve this for each of the five Salaah of the day, one would be able to with ease, in the nine or 10 days spent in Madinah, be able to complete a khatam of the Quraan. Don’t leave the Haram immediately after a Fardh Salaah. Take additional time to complete the Juz of the Quraan you began before Salaah or send more Salawaat upon Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
Visiting the places of ziyaraat has merit – and it is a form of Ibadah. It is a way of us connecting with the historical legacy of Islam and becoming ambassadors of the important lessons that Allah Subhanahu wa ta ‘ala wanted us to learn by preserving at least the narrative of these events.
Talbiyah – is read from the time the prospective Haji dons his Ihram in Madina and departs for Makkah, up until they see the Kabah for the first time.
Understand the stature of Makkah – in the life of a Mu’min. This is the land of Tawheed, the land where the Oneness of Allah Subhanhu wa ta ‘ala was proclaimed, not only by Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) but by the very first person who made the call to Hajj – Ebrahim (alayhi salaam). The manner in which we tap into the spiritual energy that lies in Makkatul Mukarram, taught to us by our spiritual and pious predecessors, is by reciting the Shahadah – the first and the second kalimahs. Use these as the adhkaar that we recite throughout the day and the night, wherever you may be, except in Salaah and other ibadah.
In Aziziyah – the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah are auspicious as are the last ten consecutive nights of Ramadaan. These 10 days are of tremendous spiritual benefit and one must extract the value that these days hold. If you managed to khatam the Quraan in both Madinatul Munawwarah and Makkatul Mukarramah, then there is more unstructured time in Aziziyah to complete another khatam. Allah Subhanahu wa ta ‘ala in this way has granted us the capacity to be ready for the days of Hajj – the 8th to the 13th of Dhul Hijjah.
The relevance of Mina – Mina is a place that we spend time in and we are encouraged – based on the Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) to stay in after completing the day of Arafah. This is something most South Africans have forfeited. From a monetary perspective South Africans pay exorbitant fees to be close to the Jamaraah and have easy access to the medical facilities etc and they spend less time in Mina which has a lot of virtue at the time of Hajj. Many of the tents are left deserted by entire travel groups who choose to spend the nights, on the premise of convenience, in Aziziyah.
Arafah is a place of virtue – The trend is that after the collective dua at the golden time is made on Arafah, people forget that Arafah continues to be Arafah – a place of virtue. Even if you are stalled in the buses etc and cannot move off from Arafah, then continue to be engaged in dua. Don’t become frustrated about traffic, rest once you have passed the boundary of Arafah. The night in Muzdalifah based on the Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) is to be spent in Ibadah and the worship of Allah Subhanahu wa ta ‘ala.
After Hajj has been completed – then in the manner we have been taught, maintain the etiquette of all travels and of the tasks being undertaken. Make abundant istigfaar. Seeking forgiveness from Allah Subhanahu wa ta ‘ala if we had not fulfilled the rights of the place, the people and of the opportunity presented to us.
Ambassadors of Islam – every one of the Hujjaaj should realise that you can either be a force that encourages people passively by carrying yourself out in a manner where your time is utilised for optimal spiritual benefit. These are the lands where Quraan was revealed and there is much benefit in reciting as much Quraan as possible here. As a Haji Allah Subhanahu wa ta ‘ala has granted you the opportunity of being and sometimes even walking over the exact place where certain verses were revealed. This realisation alone leaves one awed. This is truly where Allah is taking His favoured servants, only 2000 of them from South Africa, to be ambassadors, to represent Islamic community of South Africa and the 50 plus million people we still have to take the message of the Oneness of Allah to. Every year after Hajj, Allah sends a wave of goodness on the entire world. Not just the world, all the worlds because Allah is the Lord of all the worlds. When Allah chooses someone to be on this journey of Hajj then Allah has made you an ambassador and representative. This is based on a hadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) that says to the effect that those who undertake the journey of Hajj and those who come to the Baitullah for Umrah are indeed the delegation of Allah. A delegate has to meet objectives on behalf of the people.