From the moment you make your intention to go for Hajj your spiritual journey has begun.  Something inside you has already blossomed like a flower when you made that first step towards Hajj.  The intention to be able to fulfill one of the five pillars of Islam is a huge decision and one that we can't all make so easily.   After all, being able to go on this journey isn't entirely our own decision.  It is an invitation from the Almighty.  You have been given this opportunity to make this journey of a lifetime and so it is up to you to make it count.

Like I mentioned in my Preparation post, for me, preparing for Hajj meant reading as much as I could to learn as much as I could about Hajj.  But not only this I also wanted to make the most of my time in Makkah and Madinah too.  I wanted to make the most of every second as I didn't know whether I was going to ever be going again.

I didn't want to waste any time doing anything other than worshiping Allah and being the best Muslim I could be.  So I prepared myself before I went.  I didn't want to do anything wrong in the two most blessed lands.  I was fully aware of everything I said and did and made sure everything I said was the truth and and everything I did was good.   And from that moment I learnt that telling the truth is always the best way.  Not to say that I lied all the time but you can be careless sometimes.  Instead of paying attention and giving an honest answer, we tend to just gloss over things.  And that's not very fair.

I had read so much information about Hajj and what to do that I was confused about what had to be done on each of the five days of Hajj.  I found it difficult to understand when I had put my book down so I decided to simplify it.  I made my own Hajj book where I wrote down the rituals for each day in one word or sentence.  That way in one glance I could see what I had to do on any particular day, instead of reading through paragraphs and paragraphs of information to get to my answer.

After learning so much from all the books I read, I wanted to try and do as much in terms of Ibadah as I could whilst I was there.  I wanted to do everything and include as much as I could.  I wanted my journey to be perfect.  I started collecting Duas, Wazifahs and Duroods that I wanted to pray whilst I'd be in Makkah, Madinah and during Hajj.

I also included some of these in my Hajj book and stuck them on the day I would need to pray them so I wouldn't forget.  My Hajj book became the go to book for our whole trip as I had written everything in there and had included all the duas which would be needed from the moment we left our home until we got there and back.

I had included in order, our journey from home, so dua on leaving home, boarding a car/vehicle to even dua on entering Makkah and seeing the Kaaba for the first time.  Some duas that I collected, I didn't even know existed.  I came across them whilst I was reading up on Hajj and I knew I would forget about them if I didn't note it down somewhere.

I also had my simplified Umrah guide which had everything in there in terms of how to make intention for Tawaf, what to do after Tawaf, how to start Saee and duas to pray at Mount Safa and Mount Marwa along with many more duas.   So we would just take look and see, 'oh this is what we're doing next' and 'this is what we need to pray'.

I wanted my Hajj to be easy to understand so that I could perform each part of it as best as I could to the best of my knowledge and ability.

Of course, the first time you see the Kaaba is one of the best moments in your life.  It is so breath taking, words cannot describe it's true beauty.  Seeing it in all it's glory with your own eyes does not compare to seeing it online or on TV.  You will cry.  It's beauty softens the hardest of hearts.  A truly amazing experience.

The number one thing on everyone's mind when they see the Kaaba is to make dua.  Often, you'll have heard people saying that they completely forgot what they wanted to ask for when they were finally standing in front of the Kaaba.

My tip for you is to start memorising what you want to ask for and make the same dua everyday.  As you remember more things add them to your dua and continue to ask the same dua everyday.  Eventually you'll know your dua off by heart so Inshallah when you're there you'll be able to ask for everything you ever wished for.

Another tip for you is to complete the Quran in front of the Kaaba when you make your dua.  Now you're probably wondering how you're ever going to manage that as there are 30 paras and it takes a long time to pray from start to finish.

Here's what you have to do.  Start your Quran from home and leave the last 4 Surahs so that when you start your dua in front of the Kaaba you can complete your Quran and make dua after.  As we all know dua after the completion of the Quran is accepted and where better to do that, than in Makkah standing right in front of the Holy Kaaba where an angel will kiss your forehead as soon as you finish.

There are plenty of ways for you to prepare for Hajj and to understand the rituals better.  Your tour guide or even your local mosque may organise a Hajj seminar and it's definitely worth going to these as they are very beneficial.  Even more so, if this is your first time going to Hajj.

Hajj, is not plain sailing.  It was never meant to be, otherwise you wouldn't learn anything and it wouldn't teach you anything about your true self and how you can become a better person.  You will face challenges that you've never had to before, but it's up to you to make the best of them and come away knowing you did right.      

Now that you've prepared yourself for the trip it's time to get packing!