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Hajj Checklist and Beginner's Guide

by Musa Bukhari

Pilgrims go to Hajj from the 8th to the 12th of Dhul-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar. Hajj contains within it some of the same rites as Umrah, such as tawaf and Sa’ee, but it is longer and more comprehensive. Whereas Umrah can be performed in a few hours, Hajj takes several, long days. There are three forms of Hajj, one of which is Tamattu’ (Umrah + Hajj) and this is the one we will be using for this guide.

1. State of Ihram: Intention and Preparation

Everything in Islam starts with the intention. The intention for Hajj is to fulfill the obligation of the fifth pillar of Islam and to get one’s sins forgiven. The intention for Hajj is done at the time of entering into the state of ihram. Men are required to wear white cloths wrapped around the waist and the shoulder, leaving the right shoulder exposed. Women can wear any plain clothing that meets the requirements of proper hijab (niqab, or face veil is not permitted). Fully covering shoes, scented lotions, soaps or perfumes are prohibited for both men and women. It is also not allowed to engage in sexual relations, to shave/cut the hair or cut the nails.

For Hajj Tamattu’, the pilgrim should say, “Labbayk Allahumma bi ‘Umrah (Here I am, O Allah, for ‘Umrah).” Then he should say, “Allahumma haadhihi hijjah laa riyaa’a fiha wa la sum’ah” (O Allah, this is a pilgrimage in which there is no showing off or seeking reputation).”

Then he should recite the Talbiyah as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did: “Labbayka Allahumma labbayk, labbayka laa shareeka laka labbayk. Inna al-hamd wa’l-ni’mata laka wa’l-mulk, laa 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).”

Note: There are some things that can make life easier for pilgrims while on Hajj. Carry some essentials such as fragrance-free sunscreen (SPF), moisturizer, Vaseline, soap, deodorant, and sunglasses. Plastic bags are nice to have in handy to place things in or to convert into an impromptu trash bag. A travel-size first-aid kit, pain killers, and a travel pack of tissues is also not a bad idea.


Tawaf (Around Ka’bah 7x) & Sa’ee (Safa and Marwa)

Umrah consists of two main rites after entering into a state of ihram. The Tawaf is the act of going around the Ka’bah counter-clockwise 7 times. The du’a to read during this time is “Rabbana aatina fid-dunya hasanah, wa fil-akhirati hasanah, wa qina ‘adhaban-naar” (Our Lord, grant us good in this world and grant us good in the Hereafter and save us from the punishment of the Fire). Any other du’a can also be made in Tawaf as was the practice of the Sahabah and the Salaf (the pious ones who came before us).

Sa’ee is the act of running (or fast-walking) between the hills of Safa and Marwa in commemoration of the legacy of Hajar (A). Start walking at Safa and keep going until you have gone between the two hills 7 times). It is okay to take a short break between Tawaf and Sa’ee as it can be exhausting, especially in the heat or crowds.

3. Clip/Shave hair (Umrah ends)

Men shave their heads at this point and women cut off a fingertip length of hair and this marks the end of Umrah. This also exit you from the state of ihram, making the normally permissible things, permissible again…until the 8th of Dhul-Hijjah, when ihram must be donned again—this time, for Hajj.

4. 8th of Dhul-Hijjah (Ihram for Hajj)

The 8th of Dhul-Hijjah is the first day of Hajj. After doing ghusl, ihram must be worn again. The same rules that applied before apply again. It is not permitted to swear or use bad language, to smoke, to shave or cut your hair, to clip your nails, to use scented hygiene products, or engage in any type of sexual relations. Arguments and fighting is prohibited and so is hunting or killing.

Once in the state of ihram, the talbiyah is recited regularly: “Labbayk 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).

While reciting the talbiyah, pilgrims proceed to Mina, also known as the tent city, which is approximately eight kilometers away from Makkah.

5. Mina

At Mina, pilgrims spend the day praying dhuhr, asr, maghrib, and isha and settling into their tents. The four unit prayers are shortened to two units each but not combined. In the daytime, it is important to stay hydrated through the water stations that can be found throughout the area. The tents can be hot and stuffy, and spaces are tight, so it’s important to be considerate. The night is spent praying to Allah (SWT) and reading Qur’an. It is a night to come closer to Allah through du’a and dhikr (remembrance of Allah).

6. 9th Dhul-Hijjah: Day of Arafah

The day of Arafah is very special in Islam. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “There is no day on which Allah frees people from the Fire more so than on the day of ‘Arafah. He comes close to those (people standing on ‘Arafah), and then He reveals before His Angels saying, ‘What are these people seeking.” (Muslim)

After spending the night at Mina and praying fajr the next morning, pilgrims head to the plains of Arafah. On the way, they do istighfar (seek forgiveness) and make du’a. Once they reach Arafah, the pilgrims pray Dhuhr and Asr shortened and combined. On the Day of Arafah, a sermon is delivered from Masjid Al-Nimra. It is important to listen to this khutbah if possible. Arafah is the day of primarily begging Allah for forgiveness and seeking His blessings and favor. It is important to remember one’s family, friends, and the entire ummah in these du’as. Arafah is a time of standing in humility and remembering Allah’s Forgiveness and Loving Mercy.

Note: Muslims around the world who are not at Hajj fast on this day.

7. Muzdalifah

After sunset, pilgrims go to the plain of Muzdalifah, which is located between Mina and Arafat. At Muzdalifah, pilgrims perform maghrib and isha, one after the other (isha is shortened to two rak’ahs). This is in accordance to the sunnah:

“The Prophet (SAW) offered the maghrib and isha prayers together at Muzdalifah with a separate iqama for each of them and did not offer any optional prayer in between them or after each of them.” (Bukhari)

It is permissible to spend the night in either worship or rest, but the Prophet (SAW) chose to rest until just before Fajr. It is advisable to do this because the next day is long and eventful! At Muzdalifah, pilgrims collect pebbles to perform the rami (the stoning of the devil). The size of the pebbles should be like date pits/stones. Pebbles can also be collected from Mina. Pilgrims collect a total of 49 pebbles: 7 pebbles for 10th of Dhul-Hijjah, 21 pebbles for the 11th and 21 pebbles for the 12th. It is better to pick up 21 extra just in case some get lost (so total 70). It is a good idea to carry a small pouch or bag to keep the pebbles in.

At Muzdalifah, pilgrims sleep under the open sky as there are no tents. It is important to stay with your family members and group members as it is very crowded. There are restroom and wudu facilities at Muzdalifah but they are packed. It is better to make wudu, etc. before leaving Arafah.

8. 10th Dhul-Hijjah (Start of Eid ul-Adha)

The 10th of Dhul-Hijjah is known as Yawm un-Nahr, or the Day of Sacrifice. Pilgrims perform Fajr at Muzdalifah and then leave to go towards Mina, reciting the Talbiyah as they go. It is the pilgrims’ first day of throwing pebbles at the Jamarat and sacrificing an animal. For the Muslims around the world not at Hajj, this is the day of Eid ul-Adha.

Rami/Jamarat (Stoning of the Devil)

The Stoning of the Jamarat is a rite that symbolizes pelting the shaytan (devil) by throwing pebbles at three stone structures in Mina. The act of throwing stones at the Jamarat is called “Rami.” Jamarat al-Aqaba is the big pillar where pilgrims start throwing the first seven pebbles. With each pebble thrown, “Allahu Akbar’ (Allah is the Greatest!) is proclaimed. The time to complete the stoning is from Fajr on the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah until Fajr on the 11th, so there is plenty of time to complete it. The stoning should be limited to the pebbles only, and there is no need to throw shoes and other items at the pillar.

After the sacrifice, male pilgrims trim or shave their hair. The sunnah is to shave the head. Female pilgrims trim her hair by the length of a fingertip.

At this point, the state of ihram is over and it is allowed to do all the previously forbidden things except engaging in sexual intimacy with one’s spouse. It is sunnah to wear perfume as the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) used to wear musk.

9. Tawaf al-Ifadah

Pilgrims then go to Makkah to perform Tawaf al-Ifadah and Sa’ee as part of the rites of Hajj. These two rites are Fard (obligatory) and they must be performed after the rami, sacrifice and shaving or trimming of the head. The Tawaf and Sa’ee can be done on the 10th and 12th of Dhul-Hijjah. The Haram may be crowded at this time with people rushing to complete the Tawaf and Sa’ee, so it is advisable to use the upper levels of the Haram or wait until midnight when the area is not so crowded.

When Tawaf Al-Ifadah and Sa’ee are complete, all the ihram restrictions are lifted, including the one on sexual relations with one’s spouse. Pilgrims return to their tents in Mina to continue with the remaining rites of Hajj.

10. 11th and 12th Dhul-Hijjah: (Ayaam At-Tashreeq)

The 11th and 12th of Dhul-Hijjah are known as “Ayyam at-Tashreeq,” or the days of drying meat. In the olden days, pilgrims would preserve the Qurbani/Udhiyah meat by drying it under the sun to prevent the meat from rotting. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: “The days of tashreeq are the days of eating and drinking.” (Muslim)

On the 11th and 12th of Dhul-Hijjah, pilgrims are required to stay in Mina and complete two more rami rituals. On the afternoon of 11th Dhul-Hijjah, pilgrims begin with Jamarah al-Ula (the small pillar) and pelt it with 7 stones, then make du’a facing the qibla. Then pilgrims turn to Jamarah al-Wusta (the middle pillar) and pelt it with 7 stones, then make du’a facing the qibla. Finally, pilgrims turn to Jamarah al-Aqaba (the big pillar) and pelt it with 7 stones. Each one is accompanied by Takbeer (“Allahu Akbar”) like before. Then pilgrims return to their camp in Mina and spend the rest of the day in worship. The same is done on the 12th of Dhul-Hijjah. At this point, all of the rites of Hajj are complete except for the farewell tawaf.

11. Tawaf ul-Wida’ (Farewell Tawaf)

The farewell tawaf is the last rite pilgrims perform before leaving Makkah. It is wajib (obligatory) and must be performed and it is not okay to leave it without a valid reason. Ibn Abbas (RA) narrated: “The people were ordered to perform the Tawaf al-Wida’ as the last thing before leaving (Makkah), except the menstruating women who were excused.” (Bukhari)

After this tawaf, pilgrims pray two rak’at and drink zamzam water (there is no sa’ee or shaving/trimming of the head after tawaf ul-wida’).

Congratulations! Hajj Mabrook! At this point, Hajj is complete. May Allah accept. Ameen!

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