THE intention of performing Hajj has fixed times, namely within the months of Shawwal and Dhu’l-Qadah and the first days of Dhu’l-Hijjah; a Muslim cannot intend to perform Hajj except within these appointed times. There are also fixed places for intending Hajj (dependent on the pilgrim’s residence), which a pilgrim cannot pass without being in the state of Ihram.

At these places (miqat) the pilgrims perform ritual purification, pray two rak’ahs, make the intention of Hajj or Umrah, and raise their voices while chanting the Talbiyah. After that, the pilgrims have to avoid all the acts that harm their Hajj, such as wearing sewn clothes [this for men only], wearing perfume, shaving the head or cutting the hair, trimming the nails, killing game, cutting down trees, etc.

Just like pilgrims who begin their journey to Makkah in Ihram, Muslims can begin their way to Allah by sincere repentance, as Almighty Allah generally commands when He says: “… And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.” (24:31)

True repentance is represented in quitting sins, regretting them, resolving never to commit them again, and following the righteous way steadfastly. Repentance is not true if there is the intention to return to the concerned sin, for mere quitting does not mean sincere repentance.

For example, a person may quit a sin for some other reasons, such as giving up a sin for being unable to commit it or quitting drinking due to its physical harm while still being attached to it. This is not regarded as repentance, for repentance is a spiritual act followed by physical submission, seeking the pleasure and forgiveness of Almighty Allah.

To blot out any trace of sin through repentance, Muslims should observe piety and deeds of righteousness, for good deeds annul evil ones, as Almighty Allah says: And perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat) at the two ends of the day and in some hours of the night [i.e. the five compulsory prayers]. Verily! the good deeds remove the evil deeds. This is a reminder (advice) for the mindful (those who accept advice). (11:114)

Another condition for repentance is that if the concerned person owes people any rights unjustly taken away, he or she should return them or seek their forgiveness. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) once asked his Companions, “Do you know who the insolvent is?” They replied, “An insolvent man among us is one who has neither dirham with him nor wealth.” The Prophet said, “The insolvent of my Ummah would be the one who would come on the Day of Judgment with prayers and fasts and Zakah but (he would find himself bankrupt on that day as he would have exhausted his funds of virtues since) he hurled abuses upon others, brought calumny against others, unlawfully consumed the wealth of others, shed the blood of others and beat others. Thus, every one of them would be given of his good deeds (that is, his virtues would be credited to the account of those who suffered at his hands). And if his good deeds fall short of clearing the account, then he would be given of their sins and he would be thrown into the Hellfire.”

When Muslims start their journey to Makkah through sincere repentance, they begin spiritually rising from the stage of the evil-commanding soul to that of the self-reproaching soul until finally, they reach the stage of the tranquil (righteous) soul. The evil-commanding soul is accompanied by Satan, who leads it astray, gives it false promises and dreams, blinds it to ugliness, and carries it off to an abyss. However, the self-reproaching soul reproaches one for the negligence of one’s duties toward Allah, pushing one forward to righteousness and obedience and leading one to safety from the Hellfire. As for the tranquil, righteous soul, it is the one that is reassured by wisdom and decrees of Almighty Allah and follows in the footsteps of the prophets and the righteous. Therefore it deserves Almighty Allah’s reassurance when He says : (It will be said to the pious — believers of Islamic Monotheism): O (you) the one in complete rest and satisfaction! Come back to your Lord, – well-pleased (yourself) and well-pleasing (unto Him)! Enter you, then, among My honored slaves, And enter you My Paradise! (89:27-30)