Further to my Hajj story (Read it here), if you follow few points, it can make your Hajj an easier & comfortable one:
1- Buy a small & simple book which has photos to explain. Or watch video / audio on the internet to Learn few basic terms such as:
– Types of intention or Neeyaah for hajj which are Tamattou, ifraad, Qiran. Your timing of ihram depends on which neeyah you do.
– Types of Tawwaf (Qadoom, Ziarah/Ifadah, Umrah, Vida’ah)
4- Learn what is Forbidden while in ihram: Understand the difference of Completely forbidden & Makrooh. Differentiate between myths & facts. If Allah Ta’ala has made a concession, avail it, don’t force hardship upon you. This was the method of Prophet SAW.
5- Make sure you are physically fit to walk for hours, 5 or 6 hrs at a time. Start walking wearing slippers & bare footed few days before going. If you can not walk for long, buy a light folding chair. You can buy everything in Saudi & it is not expensive.
6- Most Toilets are sitting style. And queues are very long. Be prepared before going into haram sharif.
7- Be very very patient, you will be tested to limits. Don’t loose sawaab by getting impatient on small things. Mostly you have to wait for hours at airports, in busses, etc.
8- Don’t buy towel ihram. Imagine wearing 3 meters of towel around you in heat! It is very heavy & after absorbing sweat, becomes heavier. It acts like a blanket in hot weather. Buy normal cotton sheets. These are light & airy.
9- Do hajj within next few years (of 2010) while weather is pleasant. Saudia is a very hot country.
10- You will spend 4 or 5 days in tents in Mina. Some tour operators do not provide mattresses. It is an essential item. Ask before booking. Otherwise buy a light air-filled mattress & /or sleeping bag.
11- Ask around which operator bears good reputation. Make sure you go with someone well reliable who provides all essentials e.g. transport, good hotel near haram sharif, food & most importantly assist you when you need help.
12- Haram sharif gets very crowded near the hajj. If you are with family or elderly, it is better to perform tawwaf on first floor. It is longer but easier. Sa’ee between safa & marwah can also be performed on less crowded floors.
13- Straight after reaching Makkah, understand the routes, surroundings, & gates of haram sharif, and agree a place to meet in case you get separated. All gates are numbered.
14- Wear your ID Tag all the time, keep written addresses & telephone numbers with you all the time. This is vital especially while in Mina because there are thousands of same looking tents there. Once lost, very difficult to get back. Remember your group number.
15- Stoning the Shaitaan: It is an oval shaped long wall. Don’t start hitting stones as soon as you see it. instead, Go to the far end & then hit because there is less rush here. As soon as finished, move away. It is dangerous here due to crowd.
16- Dry cough & bad throat are common. Your fingures carry germs into your body. You can minimize the risk by NOT touching your face (eyes, nose, and mouth) once outside. While doing sajdah, put a small piece of cloth on floor to put your face on it.
17- Keep a small pouch / bag with you & put a copy of duas, your phone, some money, food, water bottle & plastic bag for slippers in it. Keep it as light as possible.
18- Keep slippers with you instead of leaving outside. Otherwise you waste lots of time finding them.
19- Keep dates (khajoor), bananas, chocolate, biscuits etc (as little as possible) with you. There will be occasions when you will not get the chance to eat. Eat these to keep you going.
20- It is almost impossible to get into & out of Haram sharif near hajj. People usually go just before Fajar time. They pray Tahajud & Fajar then come back & take some rest. Then they go back around Zuhar time and then stay there till Isha.
21- Take your own razor, trimmer etc. Avoid the barber there if possible. Hygiene is quite poor. Imagine 3 million heads shaven 3 or 4 times.
22- Don’t break the rules. Follow the system & procedures and obey the security people. It will make your & other hajj safe & easy. The system is slow but works.
23- To make intention for umrah, you will need to go to Masjid Aisha. It is about 30 mins drive from Haram sharif. Buses go there, or you can share a taxi. Coming back is much easier. There are a lot of non-stop buses.
24- While spending night in open in Muzdalafa, it gets cold in the night. Be prepared & keep a light blanket & light rubber sheet to put on rough floor. Also there are very few toilets so go very very early in the morning. You may have to stand in the queue for an hour or more.
25- No matter what happens, stay calm & cool. Enjoy your time there. After all you are getting sawab for each & everything you do. Just stay there is a swab. Dont lose it by losing temper if others are being silly.
26- If anyone (e.g. a driver or a shop keeper) troubles you, simply contact the security person. Believe me they are very helpful.
May Allah Ta’ala make your journey for Hajj a blessed & enjoyable.