Mamun Rashid :
Many seniors have told me that not everybody with abilities and willingness can perform Holy Hajj. One receives a kind of invitation from Almighty Allah in this regard. It was pretty late when I decided to perform Holy Hajj in 2012. Even then, with the help of many seniors, our travel agents, their representatives in the two holy cities and our accompanying friends, it turned out to be a fantastic experience. Yes, we had disturbing experiences as well, which we thought could mostly be avoided with a bit of extra planning and, hence, we decided to share those with the readers.
Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam. It is performed from Zilhajj 8 to 13, which is the 12th month of the Hijra (lunar) calendar. There are three ways that one can perform Hajj. The one that most people perform is called Hajj Tamattu. This is Hajj joined with Umrah, with two separate niy'at. The other two types are Hajj Qiran (Umrah and Hajj with one niyat) and Hajj Ifrad (Hajj only). I would like to discuss mostly about Hajj Tamattu here.
We have to understand that in order to experience the spirituality of Hajj we have to be logistically prepared. The whole experience involves a certain physical effort. It is always better if we practice a bit of walking weeks before the Hajj.
The rites of Umrah and Hajj begin by entering into the state of Ihraam.
Men have to wear two clean preferably white unstitched pieces of cloth, while women do not have to wear special clothes while in the state of Ihraam. We are in the state of Ihraam once the niyat has been uttered.
The rule is to enter into Ihraam before crossing Meeqaat [predefined boundaries defined by the Prophet Muhammad (Sm)]. It is better for us to enter into Ihraam before getting ,into the airplane, as it is often inconvenient to do so in the airplane. If one is flying directly into Jeddah, it is better to wear the Ihraam from Dhaka; otherwise it can also be worn in a transit airport. After wearing Ihraam, we should start reciting talbiyah (Labbayek, Allahumma la sharika lak).
After immigration formalities are over, the Mu'allem takes us to Makkah. The distance from Jeddah airport to Makkah is 72 KM and, depending on traffic, it takes 2 to 7 hours in a bus.
After taking a little rest in Makkah we proceed to Haram Sharif for Tawaaf (seven rounds around the Ka'bah) and Sayee for Umrah. Tawaaf starts from Hajre-Aswad (Black Stone), proceeds anti-clock wise, and finishes there.
We can try to kiss the Black Stone if possible (one should not be at all desperate to do so), otherwise we can raise our right hand and gesture towards it.
After completing the seventh circle, we have to perform two-rak'at salah, or prayer, behind Maqaam-e- Ibraheem.
Then we should proceed for Sayee. This comprises of seven rounds of walking between Safaa and Marwah, beginning with Safaa and ending with Marwah., After that, we have to proceed for our ending haircut; we can either shave our heads or cut our hair short. The women need to cut no more that one inch of hair. The Umrah is now complete, and we are out of the state of Ihraam. We may wear normal clothes now.
After the completion of Umrah, our next task would be performing Holy Hajj. In between, if we have time we can do Umrah again with renewed state of Ihraam. The actual Hajj days are from Zilhajj 8 to the 13. On the noon of Zilhajj 8, we re-enter the state of Ihraam with the niyat for Hajj.
All pilgrims recite the talbiyah as they head for Mina after sunrise. The distance between Makkah an Mina is about 8 km.
One should plan ahead to reach that place, or be guided by the Mu'allem's people.
Here we stay from the morning of the 8th until after Fajr prayer on the 9th. After performing Fajr namaz, we shall leave for 'Arafat. Most pilgrims arrive prior to or just after Juhar. This is the day we have come for.
There is no Hajj without going to 'Arafat. There is a Khutbah before the prayer in Masjid Namirah. After the Khutbah, we say Juhar and Asar prayers at the time of Juhar, two rakats each. The time between Juhar and Maghrib is spent in sincere submission.
Immediately after sunset (not before) we shall start leaving 'Arafat for Muzdalifah. The distance to Muzdalifah is only about 9 km. Because of bad traffic and chaos created by some bus/lorry drivers joining Hajj for the first time, it may be advisable to walk.
At Muzdalifah we say the Maghrib and 'Isha prayers together at the time of 'Isha. After which we would have to settle in a place under open sky to spend the night. On the 10th morning, after completing the Fajr prayer we should start for Mina, which is about 6 km away.
Again it is advisable to walk for the same reasons; otherwise it may take hours. We head for the largest jam'arat (devil), known as Al Aqabah, where we cast seven pebbles, one at a time, and pronounce Takbir with each throw.
The Saudi govt/Hajj authority has now fixed specific times for each of the regions to avoid accidents or stampede.
Then we should complete the Qurbani, and shave our heads or cut our hair short. The women shorten their hair the length of a fingertip. We may then wear ordinary garments. We can now head for Makkah to perform Tawaaf and Sayee.
On completion of these we are free from all Ihraam restrictions and return to Mina to spend the night. Since on that day all the pilgrims would be heading towards Makkah, it's better to walk, which is faster and convenient.
We should throw pebbles at three Jam'arat (devil) on the 11th and 12th, beginning with the 1st Jam'arat, remotest from Makkah, then the middle and then Jam'arat AlAqabah.
Each Jam'arat is to be pelted with seven pebbles, pronouncing Takbir with each throw.
Then we can leave for Makkah before sunset. Some people also· throw pebbles even on the 13th. It. should be kept in mind that throwing pebbles is not mandatory for the physically weak, or women who may not feel comfortable in the crowd.
Someone on their behalf can throw pebbles at Jam'raat. On reaching Makkah on 12th/13th, wd perform Tawaaf, known as 'Bidayi Tawaaf. "
With this done, the rituals of Hajj are over.
We may want to go to Madinah after the completion of Hajj, although it is not an integral part of Hajj rites. However it is always important to visit the grave of our beloved Prophet (May Allah's peace be upon him). There and offer salam to him and offer salat there.
The distance would be about 447 km.
Apart from visiting the Rasul's grave and the mosque there are many important historical sites in Madinah that we should visit.
Madinah is a good place for shopping and one can buy clothes, gold and other souvenirs for the near and dear ones from there. Therefore, there is no point in shopping in Makkah. There are some very good Bangladeshi eating places in Makkah as well as Madinah and Bangladeshis there usually are very hospitable. Though most of our roaming cell phones work there, it is advisable to buy a local 'SIM' if necessary.