Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. All Muslims who
fulfill certain conditions must perform Hajj at least once
in their lifetime. What are these conditions? Are there
any prerequisites of Hajj? The answers to these and many
other similar questions can help you in making decisions,
and in planning for Hajj in a better and more efficient
Who Must Perform Hajj
Muslim who fulfills the following conditions must perform
Hajj at least once in his lifetime:
He must be of sound mind, and in full control of his mental
must be old enough, and mature enough to understand the
full import, and significance of what he is setting out
must be financially sound enough to be able not only to
bear all of his expenses for Hajj but also to provide adequately
for his dependents during his absence and until his return.
Prerequisites Of Hajj
Hajj is an act of worship, it must be performed in peace,
and with single minded devotion. There are a number of simple,
yet important, things you can do to get in the right frame
of mind for this unique experience. All of these are self-evident
and are based on common sense. They are reiterated below
for completeness of the discussion and as a reminder:
Your intention must be to perform Hajj solely for the sake
of Allah. Considerations of pleasing or impressing others
with your show of piety should never be a factor.
Hajj expenses must be paid out of money obtained through
legitimate (Halal) means. Money obtained through illegitimate
or doubtful means is not acceptable.
of your debts and financial obligations must be fully discharged
before you start your journey and, where necessary, a written
acknowledgement of the transaction obtained for future use.
must make an honest effort to resolve your outstanding differences
with others and seek forgiveness from those you may have
hurt in any way in the past. This is based on specific instructions
of Rasool Allah (pbuh) and must be followed for the Hajj
to be meaningful.
Preparations For Hajj
Hajj is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most people,
the importance of early and adequate preparation cannot
be over-emphasized. There is a considerable investment of
money, time, and physical effort required for the Pilgrimage
to be fulfilling and meaningful. Information has to be collected,
itineraries must be worked out, and documents have to be
readied. The purpose of these preparations is not only to
minimize physical discomfort, emotional aggravation and
monetary expenses, but also to enable you to perform Hajj
in relative peace of heart and mind. Therefore, it makes
sense to be as ready as possible for this momentous journey
of self-discovery, self-appraisal, and spiritual enlightenment.
must be started early enough so that you are not rushed
for time in the few days before your voyage commences. The
paperwork, shopping, finalizing your travel and residential
arrangements inside Saudi Arabia etc., consume a great deal
of time. Three to four months ahead of your actual date
of departure is a good estimate for starting your preparations.
Your travel agent, or a knowledgeable friend who has performed
Hajj recently, can also guide you in your preparations.
Be sure to apply a "factor of safety" to their
recommendations and allow yourself a somewhat greater period
of preparation than they advise!
following guidelines are intended to get you started in
the right direction. Since individual needs and preferences
vary widely you will, in all probability, add to the list
as you prepare for the journey:
Choose a travel agent who offers a wide selection of "packages"
for Hajj. There are a large number of travel agencies all
over the country that offer Hajj services, and not all of
their products are of equal quality and value. Choosing
the right agent is of crucial importance. Hopefully, a representative
of your travel agent will be your constant guide and trouble
shooter during Hajj. Invest time and effort in this essential
phase of your preparation.
to friends and acquaintances who may have recently used
the services of various companies and ask them for recommendations.
The quality of service and commitment to the comfort and
well-being of the pilgrims vary significantly among travel
agents. Whereas a good and responsible agent can "make"
your Hajj, a bad one can just as easily "break"
sure to ask the travel agent specific questions and have
him give you specific answers:
will be the duration of your stay in Mecca and Medina?
What dates? Is the program flexible or will it allow
no changes once it is made? Is there any additional
cost to such changes? If so, what is it?
far away will you be staying from Haram ash Shareef,
both in Mecca and in Medina? If your place of residence
is not within easy walking distance (10-15 minutes),
what type of transportation to and from Haram ash Shareef
will be made available? How often during the day will
it be available?
a representative of the travel agent who is fully conversant
with the rites of Hajj, and Saudi rules and procedures
for customs, immigration, and travel be with you at
all times? Will he stay in Saudi Arabia for the duration
of your visit? You do not want to be left in Saudi Arabia
without adequate guidance and assistance. The laws and
procedures there can be very difficult, frustrating,
the representative of the agent be conversant with the
Arabic language? If not, will an interpreter be provided
in Saudi Arabia? Most Saudi authorities do not speak
English, and your command of Arabic is likely to be
you have the option of travelling within Saudi Arabia,
(for example from Mecca to Medina), in a taxi hired
by you at your own expense instead of the prepaid bus
provided by your muallim? How about possible return
by air from Medina to Jeddah on your way out of the
country instead of the usual prepaid bus? Get a good
idea of this additional expense.
You may want to use the above options in view of the
fact that the bus journeys during Hajj season can
be nerve-racking. For example, a bus journey from
Mecca to Medina (approximately 400 km or 250 miles)
can take as long as about 7 to 9 hours, whereas a
taxi will cover the same distance in three to four
hours. The small additional cost you will incur is
well worth the money in terms of time saved and physical
you choose to use any of the alternate travel options
(and it is highly recommend that you give them very
serious consideration), be sure to redeem your unused
bus coupons at Jeddah airport on your way out. Your
travel agent should be able to help you in this.
kind of arrangements will be made for your stay in Mina
and Arafat? How about the food arrangements in Mina,
Arafat, and Muzdalifah?
the price of your package include meals? See if the
agents make an effort to vary the menu. You may have
to supplement your meals with milk, fruits etc. Food
supplied by the agents tends to be monotonous, and the
lack of variety is likely to kill your appetite after
a couple of days!
the agent arrange for a sacrifice on your behalf on
the 10th of Zul Hijjah? This is a common service agents
often provide for a small fee. They will inform you
of the time of the sacrifice so that you may perform
other rites accordingly.
You will need certain vaccinations for the issuance
of a Hajj visa. The World Health Organization (WHO)
issues annual guidelines and requirements concerning
vaccinations for travel to various countries including
Saudi Arabia. Your physician will have the necessary
information or will be able to access it readily.
either with your travel agent or the Saudi Arabian
Embassy for additional requirements. The Saudi Government
requirements are usually stricter than the WHO recommendations.
For instance, whereas the WHO recommended immunization
against only meningococcal meningitis for travel
to Saudi Arabia in 1997, the Saudi authorities required
immunization against cholera also.
doctor may recommend additional vaccinations in
the light of his knowledge and experience. The writer's
doctor (a specialist in infectious diseases) recommended
and administered immunization against typhoid fever,
polio, pneumonia, diphtheria/tetanus (D/T) and malaria.
may sound like "over-kill" and it probably
is in most cases. However, it can also save you
a lot of worry and misery in those unfortunate instances
where extra care is needed. To cite an example :
in 1997 there was an outbreak of typhoid in India
and some of the pilgrims in the writer's group,
who travelled to India after Hajj, became seriously
ill with the illness while there. It is possible
that they contracted the disease from carriers among
the Indian pilgrims in Saudi Arabia, or they may
have contracted the disease in India itself. In
any case, earlier vaccination against the disease
would have saved them from much suffering and anxiety.
Had they contracted typhoid in Saudi Arabia itself
from the Indian pilgrims, they would have had serious
problems completing their Hajj.
sure to obtain an official Vaccination Record Book
(the "Yellow Book") from your County or
State Health Department. Have your physician fill
it out, sign it, and stamp it. Anything less may
be unacceptable to the Saudi visa authorities, and
you don't want your visa application rejected for
a small detail like this. Keep the vaccination record
book with your other important documents and take
it with you to Saudi Arabia. You never know when
you may need it.
Government regulations require your passport to be
valid for at least six months past the date of your
departure. If it is not, have its validity extended
or get a new passport well ahead of time. It takes
several weeks for a passport to be issued or extended
under normal circumstances. Your local post office
should have the necessary forms and other relevant
will need a round-trip ticket to Saudi Arabia for
a Hajj visa to be issued. Your travel agent will ask
you for a specific package of documents to be submitted
with your visa application. Normally, the agent will
take care of the visa application as a part of his
travel agent will ask you for four 40MM X 60MM-sized
pictures with white background for a visa and other
paper work. Have an additional four to five copies
of the photos made and take them with you to Saudi
Arabia. They may be needed for ID cards issued by
your muallim and other Saudi documents and procedures.
Having spare pictures on hand will save you the time,
aggravation, and expense involved in having them made
in a foreign land.
a Last Will and Testament and have it properly notarized.
Consult an attorney if it is a complicated will, or
if you have concerns about your assets and property
in case of something untoward happening to you during
Hajj. Leave the original in a safety deposit box accessible
to a member of your family. The executor/executrix
of your will should also be given a copy, and your
attorney should probably retain a copy also. Have
him explain to you, and the immediate members of your
family affected by the will, the probate laws of your
state and advise them as to the best course of action
in case of your death abroad.
will be exerting considerable physical effort during
Hajj. All Hajj rites (Tawaf, Sai, Rummy etc.) require
a great deal of strength and endurance. The constant
crush of hundreds of thousands of other pilgrims,
each trying to perform the same rites at the same
time in limited spaces and very hot weather, compounds
the demands on your physical conditioning and mental
In order to be prepared for the rigors expected
of you, you must be in good physical shape. To achieve
this, start a program of brisk walking and jogging
for twenty to thirty minutes a day about three to
four months before your departure. Gradually increase
this regimen to an hour every day or every other
a few days of walking/jogging start reciting audibly
the Talbiyah and the prayers for Tawaf.This will
keep your mind occupied during the monotony of the
exercise, and will also help you get in a peaceful
frame of mind. Concentrating on the meaning of the
prayers will help you get ready for the actual Hajj
and study books on Hajj and its rites if you wish
to know more about its history and traditions. Familiarize
yourself with all aspects of the Hajj process. Memorize
the prayers you will be reciting and also learn
their meaning. It requires very little effort to
do so and it is so much more fulfilling and rewarding
when you understand what you recite. It serves little
purpose to recite prayers mindlessly with no comprehension
of the words spoken.
The more you know about Hajj, its obligations, and
prohibitions, the more comfortable and at
peace you will feel during the whole process. You
will be confident of what you are doing, and will
also be independent of the advice and prompting
of your friends or a mutawwif. Your prayers will
bear the hallmark of the single-mindedness and devotion
born of knowledge and confidence. You will also
be able to help and guide your less knowledgeable
companions, answer their questions, and allay their
people do not take the trouble of learning the 	rites
and prayers of Hajj themselves and, consequently,
depend on professional mutawwifs for the performance
of these rites. You will find such people performing
the Tawaf under the leadership of these professionals,
trying to keep up with their "leader"
in the milling throngs of pilgrims around the Kabah,
and at the same time, trying to repeat the prayers
intoned by their mutawwif! With a little bit of
effort, you can avoid the problems and frustrations
of trying to follow some one else closely enough
in a vast, moving crowd to listen to and parrot
female pilgrim must travel in the company of her
husband or a mahram i.e., a member of her immediate
family with whom her marriage is expressly prohibited
by the shariah e.g., father, brother, son, uncle,
etc. A female pilgrim, who is forty five years of
age or older, may be allowed to travel with a group
of pilgrims without a mahram if a family in the
group sponsors her. Ask your agent for details.
Things To Take With You
following is a fairly comprehensive list of things you will
need to take with you to make your journey, and subsequent
stay in Saudi Arabia safe, convenient, and relatively care-free.
Since personal needs and preferences vary, you may want
to make changes in this list to suit your own requirements.
The Ihram consists of two pieces of white, unsewn and 	plain
cloth, either 100% cotton or light terry-cloth. These are
cool to wear and also provide for better absorption of the
heavy perspiration you will inevitably experience during
Hajj. The sizes of the two pieces are as follows:
Part : 45" (1 1/4 yd) x 84" (2,25 yd)
Part : 45" (1 1/4 yd) x 84" (2 .25yd)
off two, two to three inch wide strips of a sufficient
length from the same material. Use one as a belt to
secure the bottom portion of the Ihram. Keep the other
as a spare. An ordinary belt or fanny belt may also
be used for the same purpose, but a strip of Ihram cloth
is a lot more practical, and unobtrusive. It keeps the
Ihram firmly in place and, unlike a fanny belt or pouch,
does not have to be inspected by the police at the entrance
to the Haram ash Shareef.
off an eight to ten inch wide strip of sufficient length
from the same material. Use it to secure money, credit
cards, airline ticket, etc. around your midriff under
the Ihram. Use a plastic sandwich bag inside this make-shift
pouch to keep these things dry, and secure. This is
as pilfer-proof as possible and,unlike a belt or fanny
pouch, does not attract the unwanted attention of pickpockets
and thieves. You may still use a fanny pouch to carry
other things such as medication, pen, a handkerchief,
and a small amount of money for daily use. Your fanny
pouch will be inspected by the police at the entrance
to Haram ash Shareef in Mecca and Medina. Be patient
and understanding as the police are only doing their
and respiratory infections are very 	common during
Hajj . People from all over the world bring with them
all kinds of infections, and the unavoidable closeness
of the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims facilitates
easy spread of these illnesses. Fatigue, and lack of
sleep from the physically demanding regimen of Hajj
rites as well as the over-enthusiastic exertions in
prayers and devotions, lower one's immunity and resistance,
thereby making one more vulnerable to disease. However,
you can take elementary precautions to minimize your
chances of becoming ill, and also to ensure that you
will get back on your feet faster should you get sick.
Getting and staying in good physical shape by regular
exercise prior to your departure is a good first step.
You can also carry certain medicines with you for use
your doctor to prescribe a broad-spectrum antibiotic
to be taken prophylactically (i.e., as a preventive
measure) throughout your stay in Saudi Arabia. The
writer's doctor prescribed 250 mg of the antibiotic
CIPRO to be taken daily. He found it to be very helpful
and effective as he was about the only person in his
group of approximately seventy five people who remained
healthy and free of all infections during his stay.
CIPRO is easily available in Saudi Arabia. Some people
were prescribed AMOXICILLIN by Saudi doctors and pharmacists
with good results. Most medicines are available over
the counter in Saudi Arabia, and even pharmacists
readily prescribe medication.
a reasonable supply of over-the-counter drugs
DROPS, MULTI-VITAMINS, BAND-AIDS, ANTI-BACTERIAL CREAM (for
1. Waist Pouch (Fanny Pouch)
Keep valuables (documents, money, travellers' checks, keys,
credit cards, etc.) in the fanny pouch around your waist
at all times. Do not ever leave your home without it. Be
especially careful and wary in crowded places. Unfortunately,
there are thieves and pickpockets even inside Haram ash
Shareef! Hold on to the pouch with your hand in crowds e.g.,
while doing Tawaf or when visiting Al Masjid un Nabawi in
Medina. Buy a good quality fanny belt or pouch. It is a
small but a very good investment.
Hard-cased, high quality luggage with a built-in locking
system is highly recommended. Do not use a soft, vinyl suitcase
with outside hasps for locks. Both the suitcase as well
as the locks can be easily cut and the contents stolen.
Many people have the mistaken notion that every one in and
around the holy cities of Mecca and Medina and Al Haram
ash Shareef is a God fearing, devoted Muslim. Therefore,
they feel immune from criminal activity. Unfortunately,
that is just not true. Inspite of the severe punishments
awarded to convicted criminals by Saudi authorities, crime
does exist. Pickpockets and crooks find it easy to prey
on unsuspecting pilgrims whose guard is down because of
their preoccupation with Hajj activities.
keep your suitcase locked and do not ever leave money, important
papers or other valuables in it.Your residential room will
be periodically cleaned by the cleaning staff, and the best
way to keep every one honest is not to offer any temptation.
Take two sets of keys for your suitcase. Keep one set in
the fanny pouch, and the other in a separate, and safe location.
Take a sufficient amount of currency to cover your projected
expenses. It is difficult to recommend an amount since individual
needs, travel and living arrangements, shopping plans etc.
vary widely. Only you can decide on the amount to carry.
In any event,do not advertise to others either the amount
of money you possess or its place of safekeeping. You can
never be too careful.The following are some useful guidelines
in this area:
most of your money in the form of travellers' checks.
They are safe to carry, can be cashed almost anywhere,
and are easily replaced in case of theft or loss. Since
your passport will have been taken from you for the
duration of your stay by the Saudi authorities in Jeddah,
the ID card issued by your muallim will most probably
be used for check cashing purposes. The importance of
this card cannot be over-emphasized. Take good care
Besides the Saudi banks, the travellers' checks can
also be cashed at the numerous "sarrafs" (money
changers) located in the market in Mecca and Medina.
a small amount of Saudi riyals with you. A minimum
of one thousand riyals (1 Dollar = 3.75 Riyals) is
recommended. This Saudi currency will help you take
care of your immediate expenses upon your arrival
until you become familiar with the local system. You
will also save time and aggravation associated with
making trips to the banks to cash your checks. All
banks tend to be crowded during the Hajj season and
may also be closed at certain times of the day and
certain days of the week.
only one credit card with you to minimize problems in
case of its loss. Make sure that you can use it to charge
telephone calls also. Do not forget to carry the information
required to contact the credit card issuing institution
in case of its theft or misplacement.
Saudi Arabia is a very hot part of the world most of the
year. The presence of two to three million pilgrims during
Hajj in rather congested spaces with the inevitable pushing
and shoving adds to the discomfort. The Hajj rites, ziyarat
(i.e., visiting places of religious or historical interest),
shopping, etc. require considerable walking and physical
exertion. Consequently, light and airy clothes for street
wear are the best.
enough changes of clothes to make your stay comfortable,
but be careful not to overburden yourself with unnecessary
clothes. In the hot Saudi Arabian weather, one set of clothes
lasts only a day. Professional laundry facilities are available
in Saudi Arabia, though coin-operated laundries are a rarity.
Getting your clothes cleaned professionally is quite expensive,
particularly as the prices tend to sky-rocket during the
do-it-yourself light laundry may be necessary and is, indeed,
highly recommended. It is a good idea to pack some laundry
detergent, and wash your Ihram and other light items yourself.
You will have a considerable amount of spare time before
and after Hajj. Use it for "housekeeping".
street wear, shalwar-qamees, and kurta-pajama as well
as the Saudi thoub (a one-piece head-to-toe garment) are
ideal and are recommended. Thoubs are easily available
everywhere in Saudi Arabia.
on the time of the year, you may want to pack a light sweater
for early morning wear in Medina, which tends to be cool
at that time of day in November and December.
There is no real need for you to carry items of food with
you. Everything is readily available in Saudi Arabia at
a reasonable cost. Saudi authorities do not allow perishable
food items to be brought into the country in significant
quantities anyway. Packaged and canned products in limited
quantities, however, may be brought in by tourists and pilgrims.
For emergencies and during periods of long waiting (e.g.,
at Jeddah airport) carry-on food may come in useful and
handy. All kinds of food are available at Jeddah airport
also. Some people may, however, prefer to use their own
food immediately upon arrival in a foreign land. Some general
guidelines are given below:
A couple of packs of cookies and crackers are helpful and
provide a good snack. Remove them from their boxes; they
occupy much less space as individual rolls. Granola bars,
packaged dates, fig newtons and similar items are recommended
varieties of fruits are easily obtainable everywhere in
Saudi Arabia and provide much needed flavor and nutrition.
Peelable fruits (bananas, oranges etc.) are recommended
to minimize exposure to infection from insanitary handling.
Wash all fruits carefully before use, and avoid fruits and
food exposed to the elements.
drinks of all kinds are obtainable in Saudi Arabia at all
major and minor shopping establishments, and are entirely
safe to drink. Bottled water is cheap, and should be the
only water you drink.Tap water or water from any other source
(except, of course, the Zam-Zam water) should not be used
for drinking purposes.
yogurt, buttermilk, ice cream, and other dairy products
are widely available, and should be liberally used to
supplement your diet.
The following is a list of items of daily use you should
carry with you. They will make your life easier, and your
stay in Saudi Arabia more comfortable.
pocket knife, can opener, nail clipper, small scissors.
brush, tooth paste, disposable razors, shaving cream,
small mirror, comb, toilet paper (2 rolls), napkins,
soap (2 cakes), plastic soap dish, small shampoo bottle,
deodorant, chapstick, small vaseline, tooth picks.
Quran, tasbeeh,pen, pencil, notebook.
(flip-flops, thongs, chappals), sneakers, folding umbrella,
sunglasses (or clip-on sunshades), small flash light
with extra batteries, travel alarm clock, elastic eye-glass
holder, baseball cap, 10 zippered sandwich bags, 4 garbage
bags, plastic spoons, laundry detergent, 6 plastic grocery
(2 large, 2 small), musalla (i.e. prayer rug), one heavy
sheet, inflatable pillow.