When travelling for Hajj or Umrah, the spiritual journey of a lifetime, there are certain steps you can take to make your journey easier and maximise the benefits.
This blog post will mainly concentrate on general advice for brothers and sisters, with our upcoming posts concentrating on the acts of Umrah and spiritual gains (InshaAllah).
Before any action, we have to firstly make our intention sincere and remind ourselves that this is for the sake of Allah. The second is to perform our actions according to the prophet and his ways (peace and blessings of Allah upon him).
“By failing to plan, you are planning to fail.”
As the quote suggests, planning is key. Start researching Umrah, how it is performed and what it consists of. Learn about some of the virtues and how you can maximise on the rewards. There are many books and online resources highlighting how Umrah should be performed, handily many of the guides also come with images – making it that little bit clearer and easier to understand.
As silly as it may sound, make sure all your paperwork is correct and in date. This includes your passport as well as your Meningitis (ACYW) certificate (meningitis issued no more than 3 years and no less than 10 days before arrival in Saudi Arabia). Make a photocopy or take a picture of your paperwork and email it to yourself and family, just in case things go wrong.
Family and People
“A man follows the religion of his religion; so, each one should consider whom he makes his friend” (Abu Dawud)
If you’re going with a group of people, make sure that you are in good company. This will play a key role in your experience during your trip. Will you have someone who reminds you of doing good or someone who wants to regularly eat out? Meet and talk with other Muslims whilst there. You will get to see the beauty of this deen through meeting people from all over the world, all with the same goal.
Keep in touch with your family back home, give them comfort by making them aware that you are OK and everything is going well. With technology, it has become so easy to keep in touch whilst abroad, with many different apps available to use. You can use the Wi-Fi in the hotel or your roaming data – make sure you check with your network provider, last thing you want is a big bill when you come back.
Hygiene and Health
“And We sent down in the Quran that which is healing and a mercy to those who believe: to the unjust it causes nothing but loss after loss”. (Quran 17:82)
If you are taking medication regularly, do consult with your doctor before travelling. Ensure you have enough medication to last you whilst away and if you have any specific illnesses, your doctor can provide you with a travel letter, which tells people (unaware of your illness) the actions to take in case of any emergencies.
Men should definitely keep moisturising in mind, especially in a state of Ihram. When in a state of ihram, you aren’t wearing any boxers or underwear, your legs will chaff and Vaseline or other creams can make a world of a difference.
To conclude your Umrah men and women need to cut their hair. Most men opt to shave (recommended), so make sure the barber you visit uses a brand new disposable blade. The Saudi government requires it and most barbers follow this rule, but just be extra careful and have your barber open up your blade in front of you. Women do not need to shave their heads; to cut off a length of a fingertip is sufficient.
We would recommend you exchange some money before your travel – £30-£40 should suffice in case anything is needed at the airport including sim card etc.. However, Saudi Riyals are not readily available in all places (in the UK), it may take a day or two for them to order it. The exchange rate is much better in Makkah and Madinah, once out there, get most of your money exchanged there inshaallah.
Getting your laundry done at the hotel is very expensive and would definitely recommend using external sources. Both in Makkah and Madinah you can find laundry services (outside of the hotel) approximately 5-10mins away – please feel free to ask one of our tour guides for directions. Keep in mind, they generally charge per item with prices varying, depending on the item of clothing.
There are plenty of food outlets available in the cities and very easy to get to. From the more traditional Kabsa to the more not so traditional Hardee’s – rest assured you can find something that will tickle your fancy! Alternatively for you day to day snacks, fruit and drinks, the well known Bin Dawood supermarket is literally a few mins away from the Haramain.
Madinah and its sites
Narrated Abu Huraira: If I saw deers grazing in Medina, I would not chase them, for Allah’s Messenger said, “(Medina) is a sanctuary between its two mountains.”
Whilst in Madinah there are a few sites to visit, which you shouldn’t miss out on. Go and visit the Rawdah found in the Prophet’s (pbuh) masjid – it is easy to identify with green carpet flooring and heavenly feel. Keep in mind it does get very busy, with a lot of people trying to pray there. It is best to try visit the Rawdah during the night, a few hours after Isha. Other places to visit include the site of the battle of Uhud as well as Masjid Quba, which is the first Masjid built by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Don’t forget to pray 2 rakats in Masjid Quba and reap the reward of Umrah while you’re there, Insha’Allah!
Allah (swt) says: “And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me—indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of every supplicant when he calls upon Me […]” (Qur’an 2:186)
This is a trip made for Duaa. You will be visiting the holy sites and the house of Allah, what better chance to strengthen your relationship with Him then now? Make lots of Duaa, as often as you can. Don’t forget yourself, your family and the Ummah (including lil’ old us, here at Quba Travel).0