Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam. It is the mandatory religious pilgrimage to Makkah that millions of Muslims from around the world undertake once every year, i.e., in the Islamic month of Dhul-Hijjah. Hajj is compulsory for all sane, adult Muslims who can afford the journey and is the closest a believer can physically and spiritually get to Allah Al-Mighty(سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى).
It is reported by Hazrat Abu Huraira that the Prophet Muhammad(ﷺ) said:
“Whoever performs Hajj for Allah’s pleasure and does not have sexual relations with his wife, and does not do evil or sins, then he will return (after Hajj free from all sins) as if he were born anew.”
According to Saudi officials, approximately two million pilgrims are expected to perform Hajj this year. It is a physically and mentally demanding ritual requiring much preparation. So, in this Hajj guide, we will highlight everything you need to know about preparing for Hajj, including accommodation, travel, important places, crowds, ibadah, and more.
The Days, Rituals & Steps of Hajj
Hajj starts on the 8th of Dhul-Hijjah and ends on the 13th of Dhul-Hijjah. Before we discuss what to expect during these important days, let’s review the rituals of Hajj in chronological order:
|8th of Dhul-Hijjah||Day 1: Yaum al-Tarwiyah (Day of Quenching Thirst)||· Enter the state of Ihram and make Niyat perform Hajj
· Reach Mina before Zuhr
· Offer Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib, and Isha prayers at Mina
· Stay overnight
|9th of Dhul-Hijjah||Day 2:Yaum al-Arafat (Day of Arafat)
Yaum al-Wuquf (Day of Standing)
|· Offer Fajr prayer at Mina
· Proceed to Arafat
· Offer Zuhr and Asr prayers at Arafat, stay till sunset
· Proceed to Muzdalifah
· Offer Maghrib and Isha prayers at Muzdalifah
· Collect pebbles (for Rami)
· Stay overnight
· Offer Fajr prayers
· Go back to Mina before sunrise
|10th of Dhul-Hijjah||Day 3:Yaum al-Nahr (Day of Sacrifice)||· Perform Rami (stoning) of Jamarah al-Aqaba (the big pillar)
· Offer Hadi (animal sacrifice)
· Shave head (for men) and clip/trim hair (for women)
· Proceed to Makkah to perform Tawaf al-Ziyarah
· Perform Sa’ee
· Preferably go back to Mina
|11th, 12th and 13th of Dhul-Hijjah||Day 4, 5, and 6: Ayyam al-Tashreeq (Days of Drying Meat)||· Perform Rami (stoning) of all three Jamarat on each day
· Proceed to Makkah
· Perform Tawaf al-Wida
Some Essential Items to Pack for the Journey
Hajj is a beautiful spiritual experience, but it is also long, crowded, and exhausting. So, as you pack your essentials for the journey, here are a few suggestions you should consider taking with you:
- A Hajj guide to ensure you’re performing all the rituals correctly
- A waist or neck pouch to keep your valuables with you (mobile phone, charger, money, ID cards, glasses, etc.)
- Comfortable and weather-appropriate clothing and shoes
- A wide-brimmed sun hat/umbrella/handheld fan to protect you from the sun since it can get very hot during the daytime.
- Toiletries that are fragrance-free since you will be in the state of Ihram. These include istinja jugs, toilet rolls, wet wipes, hand towels, hand sanitizer, disinfectant,etc.
- Snacks such as biscuits, crisps, sweets, etc., along with energy bars and glucose packet drinks. Also, always carry water.
- Essential medications for common ailments like cough, diarrhea, allergies, fever, and body aches, along with your prescription medications. Although medical facilities are provided during the days of Hajj, you should carry your medicines just in case.
- Items to facilitate your Ibadat, such as a pocket Quran, list of duas, Tasbeeh/counter, prayer mat, foldable travel Wudhu, Qibla compass, etc.
- Items to facilitate your stay at Mina and Muzdalifah, such as an inflatable mattress/sleeping bag and pillow, blanket, ear plugs, eye mask, etc.
- A small bag or bottle to store pebbles for Rami
What You Need to Know Before Embarking on Hajj
Now that you’re going to embark on this spiritual journey, here’s everything you need to know to perform a hassle-free and safe Hajj.
Pilgrims must be vaccinated 10 days before Hajj begins. Since Hajj this year is expected to begin on the 26th of June, pilgrims must be fully inoculated by the 16th of June.
Besides the COVID-19 and MMR vaccines, pilgrims must be vaccinated against meningitis, seasonal influenza, yellow fever, and polio.
2. Transportation Facilities between Hajj Sites
Pilgrims are transported between sites on government-appointed buses, the cost of which is usually included in your Hajj package. However, certain Hajj groups hire private buses exclusively for their pilgrims, and some people might also hire private taxis.
What’s important to remember is that the time taken for traveling from one site to another varies greatly depending on where you depart from, what time you depart, and the amount of traffic. So, remaining patient is key since delays will be inevitable.
Moreover, on the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah, government buses are usually unavailable to transportpeopleto and from Makkah since large groups of pilgrims perform different rituals at different times during the day. If your group has arranged a private bus, you don’t need to worry. Otherwise, you’ll have to arrange a private taxi.
Despite transportation being available, as discussed above, large groups of pilgrims chose to walk from one site to another to relive the historical experience of Hajj when walking was the only option. Moreover, walking might sometimes be the only option because of traffic congestion or your bus breaking down.
However, we suggest you don’t walk between every site because this will unnecessarily tire you out. For example, on the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah, the distances between sites can amount to almost 20 kilometers, translating to about four hours of brisk walking.
Moreover, you might also have to walk a few kilometers from your bus to your tent, since buses usually cannot get near the accommodation sites due toovercrowding and congestion. So, you should save energy for mandatory walks and take a bus between sites whenever possible.
If youdo choose to walk duringmost of your Hajj, there are pedestrian tunnels built between some sites, for example, between Makkah and Mina, which provide shade from the sun and offer a direct route. Refreshments, toilets, benches, and medical facilities are provided at regular intervals.
In addition, ensure the following if you opt to walk between sites:
- You are physically fit and prepared to walk for long hours
- Walking will not adversely affect other aspects of your Hajj
- You know the directions well and/or have a guide/group with you
- If you are a woman, you are accompanied by your husband/mahram
4. Arrangements in Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifah
Pilgrims in Mina and Arafat are grouped and allocated accommodations according to their country. Men and women stay in separate tents. Camps and streets are numbered and sometimes represented with the country’s flag. Make sure you note down and learn your camp number.
The comfort and facilities in your tent will depend on your Hajj package. Tents tend to get very crowded, so discuss any questions or concerns about your accommodation in Mina and Arafat with your agent before finalizing your Hajj package.
In Muzdalifah, the night is spent under the open sky as per Hajj rituals, and no tents or accommodation facilities are provided.
Accommodation in Mina
Initially, the tents in Mina were very small and had very few facilities. However, a major fire broke out in Mina in 1997, which injured many pilgrims and claimed the lives of more than 200. From the year 2000, the basic tents were replaced with fireproof tents and included electricity, air-conditioning, and electric plugs.
Accommodation in Arafat
The tents in Arafat are generally larger, and some even come with air coolers and fans. However, some tents are very basic, so we suggest you carry a portable cooling device and sufficient water to handle the extreme heat.
Huge green signposts specify the boundaries for Mina. You must stay within this specified boundary during the 10th, 11th, 12th, and, if possible, the 13th of Dhul-Hijjah.
Huge yellow signposts specify the boundaries for Arafat, and you must stay within this boundary during the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah.
Huge purple signposts specify the boundaries for Muzdalifah. You must stay within this boundary during the night of the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah.
Toilets and Washing Facilities
All camps in Mina and Arafat have toilets and washing and showering facilities, which operate 24 hours. Most of the toilets in a row are squat; however, there is at least one sitting toilet in every row. In addition, Wudhu facilities are also available next to the toilets. Moreover, toilet and washing facilities are also available in Muzdalifah.
Due to the large crowds, these areas are usually very busy, so be patient and wait for your turn. Sometimes, you might have no other option but to relieve yourself behind bushes or mountains.
- Avoid tents near toilets, cooking areas, or camp entrances since these areas will become very crowded.
- In a larger tent, the front and middle areas are generally used to offer Salah, give lectures, and eat. So, choose a sleeping area closer to the back to avoid having to move constantly.
- To claim an area in a tent, lay down your mat/sleeping bag and sit on it. Make sure you don’t occupy too much space to avoid unnecessary arguments or confrontations.
- If you are performing Hajj with your spouse, choose an area at the corner of the tent to facilitate communication.
- Avoid engaging in worldly affairs and spend as much time as possible making dua, reciting the Quran, and resting.
- You can move around and attend lectures in other tents if you think they will benefit you.
- To avoid large crowds, try performing Wudhu at least one hour before every Salah. Also, avoid using the washing facilities at least 20 minutes before Salah and right after a meal. The best time to use these facilities is when people are eating or involved in lectures.
- Carry suction hooks to hang your clothes/Ihram when using the toilet.
- In Mina and Arafat, carry an inflatable air mattress/sleeping bag/a straw Hajji mat to sleep on. Some tents in Mina and Arafat also have carpets for resting.
- In Muzdalifah, it can be quite difficult to find a space to rest because of the large number of people. However, try to find a suitable place with your group, and make sure you carry a sleeping bag/Hajji mat with you. Nights can become cold, so make sure you also have a blanket.
5. Arrangement of Meals
Meals are usually included in Hajj packages, although it might cost extra if they weren’t a part of your original package. You can confirm with your agent whether the food will be pre-packed in boxes or cooked and served directly to your group. Moreover, meals are served at fixed times, so you might have to eat at odd times.
If meals are not included in your Hajj package, there are many shops in Mina where you can buy food. However, prices usually double during Hajj season, so we suggest you carry your own snacks, including biscuits, crisps, dates, sweets, and especially water.
There aren’t any food shops in Arafat and Muzdalifah, so remember to carry snacks often to last your stay.
6. Medical Facilities
As mentioned, medical facilities are provided along the pedestrian tunnels and in the camps at Mina and Arafat. There are also many mobile clinics located in and around Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifah.
However, there is a hospital in the south of Mina opposite Masjid al-Khayf for more serious treatments. In addition, there is another hospital situated near the old slaughterhouse.In Arafat, a hospital is close to Jabal al-Rahmat (Mount of Mercy).
7. Important Religious Sites in the Area
If you have some time on your hands, we suggest you visit these historical religious sites:
Masjid al-Khayf: This is the main mosque in Mina and is located close to the smallest Jamarah (pillar for stoning) at the foot of the mountain south of Mina. The Prophet Muhammad(ﷺ), along with 70 prophets before him, is reported to have offered Salah here.
Masjid al-Namirah: This is the main mosque in Arafat and is where the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ)stayed and delivered his final sermon during Hajj. However, a large area of the front of the mosque is situated outside the boundary of Arafat, so make sure to read the signs and stay within the indicated boundary.
Mashar al-Haram: This mosque in Muzdalifah is built on the site of a small mountain.
The Unified Governmental Platform Nusuk: Launched in September 2022
This guide can only be completed by mentioning Nusuk, the Vision 2030 Pilgrim Experience Program initiative. Nusuk is a platform created to ensure pilgrims can avail the best experience and services during Hajj. Moreover, the website serves as a gateway to Makkah and Madinah, through which visitors can customize their Umrah journey and explore the various services being offered.
Nusuk helps pilgrims from around the world manage their entire stay, including applying for an eVisa and booking flights and hotels.The platform features important information and details that will ensure a smooth Hajj;for example, various options for accommodation, holy sites, and historical landmarks to visit.
In addition, Nusuk helps pilgrims explore different types of transportation to commute between sites and features interactive maps to help with the booking process.
Other Important Aspects to Consider While Performing Hajj
Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals, here are some other important aspects you must keep in mind while performing Hajj:
1. Avoid crowds and rush hours
Since most Hajj rituals are governed by time, large crowds are common. However, certain rituals, such as the stoning of the Jamarat, can be performed at any time of the day. Hence, it is suggested that you avoid peak times when going for these rituals to escape the rush and be at ease.
Also, whenever you’re moving in a crowd, always go with the flow rather than against it while staying within the group of people moving in your desired direction. Walking in the opposite direction will lead to collisions and accidents.
2. Be mindful of your surroundings
Again, large crowds mean some amount of pushing, and shoving is inevitable. Hence, be aware of what’s happening around you and be careful not to hurt anyone or yourself. Try your best not to push or shove anyone as you perform the rites of Hajj.
3. Take care of your belongings
Large crowds and open spaces are perfect for misplacing things. So, stay vigilant and ensure your belongings are secure.
4. Travel with a group
Since you won’t be familiar with the area and might also not speak Arabic, avoid walking alone, especially if you’re a woman. Move in groups, preferably with a guide or a local.
5. Take breaks between rituals
If you feel it’s getting too crowded or you’re getting too exhausted, it is acceptable to take a short break between rituals such as Tawaf, Sa’i and walking between Hajj sites.
6. Be patient and helpful
Remember: everyone is here for the same pious purpose. So, try not to get frustrated by large crowds and anxious people – be kind and helpful as much as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
What are the 7 steps of the Hajj?
A pilgrim must perform the 7 steps of the Hajj listed below:
- Make Niyyah and enter Ihram
- Perform Tawaf al-Kudoom
- Perform Sa’i
- Spend the night in Mina
- Go to Muzdalifah& perform Rami al-Jamarat
- Nahar& Tawaf al-Wida
What are the Manasik e Hajj or Rituals of Hajj?
A pilgrim must perform the following manasik-e-hajj or Hajj rituals (in the order listed below) during Hajj. They are:
- Making Niyat (Intention)
- Entering the state of Ihram
- Tawaf around Kabah
- Sa’ee between Safa and Marwa
- Shaving of the Head (for men)/Clipping hair (for women) marking the end of Umrah and Opening Ihram
- Re-entering the state of Ihram
- Staying at Mina
- Spending the day at Arafah
- Staying at Muzdalifah (under the night sky)
- First day of Rami (stoning of the devil)
- Hadi (sacrifice in the name of Allah)
- Shaving of the Head (for men)/Clipping hair (for women)
- Tawaf al-Ifadha
- Sa’ee between Safa and Marwa
- The second day of Rami (stoning of the devil)
- Spendingthe night at Mina
- The third day of Rami (stoning of the devil)
- Tawaf al-Wida (Farewell Tawaf)
When will Hajj start in 2023?
According to the Islamic calendar, Hajj starts on the 8th of Dhul-Hijjah and ends on the 13th of Dhul-Hijjah. As per the Gregorian Calendar, this year, Hajj will begin on Monday,the 26thof June, and will end on Saturday, the 1stof July.
Where is Hajj performed?
Hajj is performed in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.The rituals of Hajj are performed in Mina, Arafah, and Muzdalifah.
Why is Hajj expensive?
Hajj is expensive because of high visa fees and airline fares, additional taxes imposed by the government, high costs of hotels, and, most significantly, because of the huge number of pilgrims applying for Hajj every year.
When will Hajj flights start (2023)?
The GACA (General Authority of Civil Aviation) had announced that the arrival of Hajj flights to Saudi Arabia would start on the 21st of May, 2023, till the 22nd of June, 2023.
Conclusion for Hajj Guide: What to Expect During Hajj (2023)
Hajj is undoubtedly the most spiritually fulfilling ritual of Islam. As for its importance, it is narrated from Ibn’ Abbas that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
“There are no days that are greater before Allah or in which good deeds are more beloved to Him than these ten days…”
Such is the importance of the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, during which the Scared ritual of Hajj falls. We hope this detailed guide will help you prepare for a safe and blessed Hajj 2023, and may your journey be filled with ease, self-reflection, and peace; Amen!