"And proclaim among men
the pilgrimage: they shall come to you on foot and upon every lean
beast; they shall come from every deep ravine." (Quran 22:27)
Every year approximately 25,000 British
pilgrims perform Hajj. For many it is a once in a life time journey.
There is planning and preparations to be made many months, sometimes
years, before final departure. For most people the months of meticulous
planning are rewarded by a hassle free Hajj. But even with advanced
planning, some individuals do experience problems. The key is to keep
these to a minimum so that you are not distracted from performing your
obligations in a complete, fulfilling and enjoyable manner.
Since Hajj is an once-in-a-lifetime
experience for most people, the importance of early and adequate
preparation cannot be over-emphasized. There is a considerable
investment of money, time, and physical effort required for the
Pilgrimage to be fulfilling and meaningful. Information has to be
collected, itineraries must be worked out, and documents have to be
readied. The purpose of these preparations is not only to minimize
physical discomfort, emotional aggravation and monetary expenses, but
also to enable you to perform Hajj in relative peace of heart and mind.
Therefore, it makes sense to be as ready as possible for this momentous
journey of self-discovery, self-appraisal, and spiritual enlightenment.
Arrangements must be started early enough so that you are not rushed for
time in the few days before your voyage commences. The paperwork,
shopping, finalizing your travel and residential arrangements inside
Saudi Arabia etc., consume a great deal of time. Three to four months
ahead of your actual date of departure is a good estimate for starting
your preparations. Your travel agent, or a knowledgeable friend who has
performed Hajj recently, can also guide you in your preparations. Be
sure to apply a "factor of safety" to their recommendations and allow
yourself a somewhat greater period of preparation than they advise!
To begin with obtain and study books on Hajj and its rites if you wish
to know more about its history and traditions. Familiarize yourself with
all aspects of the Hajj process. Memorize the prayers you will be
reciting and also learn their meaning. It requires very little effort to
do so and it is so much more fulfilling and rewarding when you
understand what you recite. It serves little purpose to recite prayers
mindlessly with no comprehension of the words spoken.