Mental and Spiritual Hajj preparation
After booking our Hajj, I began to tell family and friends about our impending pilgrimage. People began to share their personal Hajj
experiences with me, and in all honesty, what I heard scared me.
Three main things stuck with me the most:
- The heat. You would think that having lived in the Middle East, I would be accustomed to the heat. But, in all honesty, we spent more time in air-conditioned spaces than we ever did outside!
- Toilets. This is a pretty well know one for sure. Everybody has heard about the stories about the toilet situation in hajj. They aren’t pretty, but they also aren’t impossible. Even for minor-OCD people like me.
- Mina. I was told that Mina will be overcrowded and it would be difficult to find privacy within the tents.
If I was asked the question “What is one piece of advice you would give to somebody who was about to go for Hajj?” then my answer would be one very simple phrase; Mind over matter. By this I mean, that in order to get through hajj with as few problems as possible, I believe that you have to use willpower to overcome any challenge that comes your way, be it physical or psychological.
Adjusting your attitude;
For the challenges I mentioned above and for the others you may face, mental preparation is key. Adjusting your attitude towards things that would usually bother you and keeping your focus on your end goal will make your journey much easier. With the right attitude you can move out your comfort zone and deal with the situation at hand, regardless of how hot it is, how average the food is or how unkept the toilets are. If you keep telling yourself, I can’t walk, it’s too hot, the toilet is too dirty, I can’t sleep in front of all these people (ps. I slept like a baby in Mina), then your mental state would be to slow you down, and tell you, you can’t. On the other hand, if you were to tell yourself, you can do this, it’s not that hot, or you’re already half way, there’s just a little more to go, I promise you that this will elevate your Hajj experience.
Being prepared with your own words;
Alongside adjusting my attitude, another way of preparing yourself mentally for hajj, is a) to look through your Hajj operator’s schedule and b) make sure that you have attended Hajj lectures to understand the events of Hajj. Once you have had a look at the schedule and listened to the lectures, you can then make your own notes to aid you on your journey, and write down the significance and roughly what you’ll be doing for each one. Write them down in your own words so you will not be surprised when announcements are made and you can picture and prepare for every step beforehand. I made the mistake of not noting down the walk back from Mina to Makkah on the final day (having already done the walk a couple of days prior, I wasn’t too unprepared), but had I noted it down, I would have made sure that I mentally pictured it in my head, and had enough fluids to stay hydrated etc.
Everyone has their own mental cues that help you overcome a challenge, know yours and be ready to face bumps and bruises along the way. Always remember that you have been invited to God’s House, He has invited you, so be on your best behavior, and in any moments of unrest remember, look at the bigger picture and remember why you are there.
As we came closer to the run up towards hajj, I found that I was questioning myself. Was I ready for this? Was this the time for me? For years, I was so scared to go for Hajj. That I was going on the most profound journey of my life, and then would return back to my life in the same state I was in before. To help me get over my questioning of whether or not I was ready for this was to start writing out everything that I was thinking in to my hajj diary. I started to write down my thoughts, the ups and the downs, and then alongside of them, how I could overcome them. I began to write down, what I wanted to achieve from this spiritual journey, and how I could begin to better myself post-Hajj.
The next step in spiritual preparation;
The next step in spiritual preparation for me, was to write out my list of prayers. From prayers of my own, to prayers for the kids, husband, parents, siblings, friends, requests etc. I listed them all out and wrote them in detail so that none would be forgotten. People tend to forget that when making duas or prayers you should ask Allah for more than just what you want. Obviously, we should all ask Allah for what we want i.e. Health, wealth etc. but we should also be going beyond that. For example, other detailed lists I wrote are for those things I am thankful for, those things I wanted to ask for forgiveness for, the type of person I aim to be.
Noting down Intentions;
Last but not least, having read and watched YouTube videos on what to expect during Hajj, I wrote down my intentions for the journey. More like a plan, I wrote these down to remind me during my journey why I wanted to do these things, so I could refer back to them, if I experienced some doubt.
I wrote down simple things like, I intended to stay in the same clothes for the days of Hajj, because I want to experience that first shower back at the hotel that everyone claims will be the best shower you have ever had (trust me it really was!!), once we had completed our Hajj (before returning back to Mina).
The day of Arafat;
As everyone will tell you, the most important day of Hajj is Arafat, the second day of Hajj, on this day all of your sins will be forgiven, and prayers will be answered –
“This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion.” (Surah al Maa’idah 5:3)
Arafat was the Day on which Allah perfected His religion, completed His favors upon His beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), and approved Islam as a way of life!
Make this your mental and physical peak. Prepare your list of duas, your prayers, your promises, your regrets and be ready to cry your heart out to the Almighty. Even if this isn’t natural to you, it will come to you.
We can feel so pressured to match our experience to the person standing next to us, forgetting that this is a personal journey, your targets and achievements are your own. Do remember that it is not a competition, and that Allah (SWT) is the only one we need to impress, the more prepared you are for this journey the more you will be able to get out of it.