Like any other trip be it business or vacation, Hajj and Umrah requires lots of planning and preparation; tickets, visas, money, accommodation, etc. Let us begin with a reminder of the best provision Allah instructs us to “take with us” on this journey...
"The Hajj (pilgrimage) is (in) the
well-known (lunar year) months.
So whosoever intends to perform Hajj
therein by assuming Ihraam,
then he should not have sexual relations
(with his wife), nor commit sin,
nor dispute unjustly during Hajj.
And whatever good you do,
(be sure) Allah knows it.
And take a provision (with you) for the
journey, but the best provision is
At-Taqwa (piety, righteousness, etc.).
So fear Me, O men of understanding!"
Surah Al-Baqarah (2:197)
Pay all your outstanding debts if possible.
If you are not able to, make arrangements for their payment during your absence, or in the event of your death.
Being debt free is not a precondition for performing Hajj.
Ensure that family members are aware of any outstanding debts. Money owed to someone is something many people tend to treat very lightly, even though it is a very serious matter in Islam. It may keep you from entering Jannah.
Have a Will drawn up. Ensure that it conforms to the Islamic rules.
Visiting Madinah is not a part of Hajj. However it is commendable to visit the Prophet's (Peace Be Upon Him) mosque if you are able to.
There is no sunnah requirement to spend a minimum of 8 days in Madinah.
Tawaaf-al-Ifadah is a compulsory act of Hajj and cannot be omitted by anyone. Plan accordingly for your departure from Makkah (for women, keeping in mind your menstrual cycle).
The Islamic Months are:
(each month has a maximum number of 30 days)
4. Rabi-at-Thaani (Rabi-al-Aahir)
5. Jumada-al-Awal (Jumada I)
6. Jumada-at-Thaania (Jumada-al-Aahira; Jumada II)
The Hajj months are from the 1st Shawaal until the 13th Dhul-Hijja.
The actual days of Hajj are from the 8th until the 13th Dhul-Hijja.
o Arafat is on the 9th ;
o Eid day is on the 10th (“no Eid” for the pilgrims).
According to the current regulations in Saudi Arabia, all pilgrims coming by air must be in the country by the 5th of Dhul-Hijja.
Do NOT leave home without a visa. You will be sent back!
The Saudi Arabian Embassy may have some special requirements before issuing you with a Hajj visa. This may vary from country to country:
o Marriage certificate (if applicable);
o Birth certificates for accompanying children;
o Letter from your local Islamic society stating that you are a Muslim;
o Copy of airline tickets & itinerary;
o Proof of money (copy of travellers cheques);
o Copy of the two cheques (drafts) needed for landing in Saudi Arabia;
o Proof of vaccinations (meningitis, cholera, etc.);
o Proof of mahram for female pilgrims. Women over the age of 45 that have no mahram may obtain a visa if they are travelling with an organised Hajj group.
Send the passport and 2 photographs for each applicant. The visa rules and requirements may change from year to year and the visa issuing time is normally from Shawaal onwards. Your hajj or travel agent will process and obtain your visa for you.
Check the site www.mofa.gov.sa for more details.
Determine the dates of Hajj in the Gregorian calendar and make the necessary arrangements for the children (if applicable), vacation from work, etc. In most western countries it may be difficult to find out about the exact dates for Hajj. Use the following method to give you an approximate date:
Assuming you know when it is Ramadaan and Eid-ul-Fitr in your country. Calculate as follows: Add 29 days (Shawaal) + 30 days (Dhul-Qada) + 8 days (Dhul-Hijja).
Example: Eid-ul-Fitr is on 8th February; add 29 days which takes it to the 9th of March; add 30 days which takes it to the 8th of April; add 8 days which makes Arafat day on 16th April, Eid on 17th and the days of Tashreek the 18th , 19th and 20th April.
The above calculation will be accurate within a 3-day range, as the months may only be 29 days, and the new moon will be different, depending on your locality. However this should give you a good enough date for the purpose of planning your flights and vacations. Another place to find the dates is on the Internet or the Hajj brochures.
Don't forget to plan for Madinah, either before or after Hajj, if time and money permit.
Let us state again: Plan your departure from Makkah very carefully taking into consideration the menstrual cycle of the ladies accompanying you (Tawaaf-al-Ifadah is compulsory for all pilgrims). Year after year, pilgrims have return airline bookings one or two days after Hajj (14th, 15th Dhul-Hijja). Some even have it for the 13th.
This can become a major problem if one of the ladies is unable to complete her Tawaaf-al-Ifadah due to her menses. Remember that the Ihraam restriction of no sexual relations applies to all pilgrims until this tawaaf is completed. Gentlemen, if you are doing the planning, this is a serious matter. This is a compulsory act of Hajj and cannot be omitted and there is no expiation. If your wife leaves Makkah without completing this Tawaaf, she is sexually illegal to you until she performs it.
Many packages cost the same whether you arrive in Makkah one month or one week before Hajj. So, if time permits, go early and stay longer. There are many benefits in arriving early for Hajj (at least 3 weeks before). Being early allows you to enjoy Makkah when it is less crowded.