DURING Haj in Arafah, 10 years after the Hijrah, a man was thrown from his camel. The camel stomped him and the man’s neck was snapped. He was dead. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

“Bathe his body with water and sidr and bury him with both garments. Do not cover his head, nor touch him with camphor … for verily he will be returned (to Allah) on the Day of Resurrection in the state of Talbiyah.” – (Bukhari and Muslim)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said about Haj, “And there is no reward for an accepted Haj … except Jannah!” This is the ultimate reward.

The first verses of Surah Al-Haj does not speak of Arafah or the rituals, it simply says:

“O mankind! Fear your Lord and be dutiful to Him! Verily, the earthquake of the Hour (of Judgement) is a terrible thing. The Day you shall see it, every nursing mother will forget her nursling, and every pregnant one will drop her load, and you shall see mankind as in a drunken state, yet they will not be drunken, but severe will be the Torment of Allah.” (Qur’an, 22:1-2)

Haj is not a journey like a vacation to a tourist destination, it is a journey of the soul and heart. When one pays careful attention to the verses speaking of Haj, he will find that almost all verses conclude with a commandment of being conscious of Allah’s presence, or a reminder of Allah’s bounteous favor upon us, or a link between Haj and the Last Day.

The destination
In the olden days, whenever a journey was to be undertaken, proper provisions had to be prepared. The deserts were long, hot, harsh, and unmerciful. There were no gas stations to fill up with chips and refreshments, or rest stops to slurp water from a fountain. In fact, there was not a human in sight for miles upon miles of barren sand dunes, and losing the way meant losing your life. Thus, you had to have the provisions with you before you made the journey – enough food, enough water, enough everything to carry you to your destination.

In the verses that speak of Haj, Allah speaks about the provisions one should take. While everyone is focused on their journey to the Ka’ba and the material provisions, Allah turns the attention of His slaves to another journey, journey of the Hereafter, and a different kind of provision, the provision of Taqwa.

“…And take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best provision is At-Taqwa (piety, righteousness, etc.)” (Qur’an, 2:197)

On the day Buhaym Al-‘Ajlee set out with his companion for Haj, he looked toward the endless desert awaiting them both and wept, his chest soaking from the tears. “This is something,” said Buhaym, “that has made me understand the most certain journey I must one day take to Allah!”

Blessings on us
There is debate over whether someone who performs Haj should be called a Haji. The title is not something found in the Sunnah, but it has an interesting background in our cultural history. In ancient days, when someone decided to perform the journey for Haj, it was synonymous with bidding farewell to life on earth. This was due to the treacherous obstacles of traveling in the desert – trials such as sickness, starvation, and the struggles involved in the journey. An entire village might gather to bid those people farewell.

When someone would go through such a remarkable journey and return alive, he would dedicate his life to the worship and obedience of Allah. Gone was the cheating, lying, or missing Salah – he was now a “Haji.”

Today, with the jumbo jets, ocean liners, and Mercedes buses, the facilitation of performing Haj has taken away the luster of the title “Haji.” Some might complain that there are no queen-size mattress beds in Mina, or that the air conditioning motor is a tad too loud. But dear brothers and sisters, who is it that provided us with all the blessings that we are living in?

The slave of Allah can only understand the favor of Allah upon him when it is taken away.

Alhamdulillaah. Indeed the greatest blessing that Allah has favored us with is Islam, and it alone suffices as favor.

Allah knows we are going to get dusty during Haj, Allah knows it. So don’t be surprised when that dust blows, instead turn to Allah and hit back with patience and a whisper of gratitude to Allah.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever performs Haj and does not have sexual relations (with his wife), nor commits sin, nor disputes unjustly (during Haj), then he returns from Haj as pure and free from sins as on the day on which his mother gave birth to him.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Getting the heart in shape
Many years ago, as the Hujjaj swept through the valley of Muzdalifah, a man remarked out loud, “My! Look at the number of Hujjaj!” A wise man replied, “Nay, the travelers are many, but the Hujjaj are few.”

In Haj, I have seen people who are patient and seek the reward of Allah during trying moments. What is the difference between them and those who spend their breath in criticism, argumentation and fights?

Some people come to Haj prepared financially, others come with a prepared heart. That is what’s essential – a prepared heart. How can we get that heart in shape for Haj? First, attend lectures and workshops dealing with Haj. Haj is one of the pillars upon which Islam is built. When someone intends to perform this rite, it is a must upon him that he learns it well. Seeking knowledge is a must on every Muslim.

Imam Bukhari writes in his Saheeh, “Knowledge comes before statements and actions.” He then quotes the verse of Allah:

“So know that La ilaha ill-Allah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah), and ask forgiveness for your sin…” (Qur’an, 47:19)

Secondly, establish prayers and pray Tahajjud (the late night prayers). When the Prophet (peace be upon him) was preparing his heart for the mission of conveying this Deen, Allah ordered him to prepare by praying Tahajjud.

Allah said:
“O you wrapped in garments (i.e. Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him)! Stand (to pray) all night, except a little.” (Qur’an, 73:1-2)

A student once slept over at Imam Ahmad’s house. Imam Ahmad had left a vessel of water for him. At the time of Fajr, he found the vessel still full of water and realized the student had not woken up during the night. He was shocked and remarked, “How can a person be a student of knowledge and not stand for the night prayers!”

Some people said to Ibn Mas`ood (may Allah be pleased with him), “We are unable to wake up to perform Tahajjud.”

He told them, “You are distancing yourselves from it by your sins.” And lastly, repent to Allah and make lots of Du’a.