Another year has come around and another Hajj (holy pilgrimage) period has started for Muslims from all around the world. Those who have decided to take part in this year’s Hajj may have already made some preparations for this holy journey or are in the process of gathering their stuff and making arrangements. But even when we think we are more than ready, we find ourselves saying: “Oh, I forgot that!” right on the way to the airport!
Hajj is a journey that every Muslim is required to participate and loves to do so. However, according to Islamic principles, before deciding to take part in this occasion, you should ask yourself these three questions:
1. Can you afford Hajj financially? [i] (This includes buying tickets, hotel expenses, and your expenses during your stay in Mecca and Medina, etc.)
2. Are you physically able to perform Hajj rituals? [ii]
3. Is the route to Mecca and Medina (to which I recommend you to travel and have a plan for it) safe and open? [iii]
If you are positive about all the above questions, you are considered to be Mustati (i.e., obliged to take part in Hajj) . Then you can start preparing yourself for this journey. If not, don’t get disappointed. Pray to Allah to give you the necessary abilities for participating in the next year Hajj.
Hajj is first and foremost a spiritual journey. A journey to the depth of your soul. If you don’t know why you are taking all these difficulties, then your effort will lose its meaning. Like any other action in Islam, you should perform Hajj with the intention of Allah’s satisfaction and surrendering to His will.
Search for a travel agency which offers various Hajj packages and consult with them about the necessary documents you need in order to ask for visa from Saudi Arabia. You can also visit the website of Saudi Arabia‘s Ministry of Hajj for more information.
You can also ask your friends or acquaintances who have taken this journey before about the best travel agency for Hajj. Or you can visit the nearest mosque or Islamic center in your city, and ask the Muslims there about travel agencies.
Either way, make sure you know about the date, duration, accommodation, your representative there, and the type of transportation your agency offers within Mecca and to Medina. You can find some useful questions to ask from travel agencies on this website.
The best way is to google it. Try to have a clear view of all the places you will visit during Hajj such as Mina, Arafat, etc. You can download a map and see the locations. Also make sure you check the weather, to know which clothing best suits you. Typically Saudi Arabia is hot during Hajj rituals so be ready for a hot and sunny journey!
Since Hajj rituals take much energy and need a healthy body to complete the tasks before everything visit your doctor and have a check-up. If there are any medicines that you should use during your journey, make sure you get the prescription from the doctor and buy the medicines beforehandedly.
Hajj is a one-month journey, so you will need many things during this time. Here is a list of some necessary or useful things to pack in your baggage for Hajj:
An extra set of clothing (white underwear, trousers, hijab, white socks, etc.)
Waist Pouch (Fanny Pouch)
slippers (flip-flops, thongs), sneakers
towels (2 large, 2 small)
elastic eye-glass holder
sunglasses (or clip-on sunshades)
travel alarm clock
A scent-free lotion or Vaseline
A scent-free sun protection free
A medical face mask
toothbrush and toothpaste
small shampoo bottle
some plastic bags
Saudi Arabia’s Money (Rials)
Guidelines for Hajj
pen, pencil, notebook
A praying mat
A small copy of Quran, prayer and Dua books, Tasbeeh
Foods/Snacks/Water (some light food, like biscuits, cereals, nuts, dried fruits, etc.)[vi]
During Hajj rituals you will walk a lot. You should walk around Kaaba, walk the distance between Safa and Marva, etc. So, it’s important to have enough strength and be physically in good condition to be able to keep up with this endeavor.
Try to do some exercises and eat healthier food sometime before embarking on your journey to Mecca.
Yes, you need to write a will! Even if you are 25! But don’t worry it doesn’t mean that you won’t come back home. It’s just a way to make sure you have arranged all your worldly concerns properly, and you can start a spiritual journey with light and free soul. Make sure you consult with your lawyer after writing your will and legalize it.
You remember what happened at Mina two years ago, right? Many families were worried about their children, husbands, wives, etc. but they couldn’t reach out to them. So, it is very important to predict a proper way of communication with your hometown. This can be a Saudi Arabia SIM card or even any other SIM Cards that work abroad. You can also ask the hotel staff for their WIFI information.
Have an idea of the actions you need to perform during Hajj. Salam Islam has a complete guide to these rituals: Hajj, The Holy Pilgrimage. You can also buy a booklet or download an ebook about these rituals to have it with you during the journey. Then, understand the reason behind those actions. You can read our Philosophy of Hajj Rituals, to get a better grasp of the reason behind these rituals. This way, you will remember them more easily.
Most of the rituals during Hajj are time-bound. For example, you have only a few hours to perform stoning Jamarat. Also, the process of Ihram and actions in the Arafat need to be done during a certain time. So, you need to work on your time management so that you won’t lose any of those actions.
Hajj is not an easy journey. It is not a summer vacation. It is an Islamic obligation and a life-changing journey. During this time, you will face many difficulties, and sometimes you may find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of interesting yet difficult physical activities or prayers you are required to do.
However, think of it as a chance to be purified and as an opportunity to strengthen your patience. For, every precious reward comes after consistency and patience.
As you are well aware, Muslims are not just of a certain nationality or country. In every country and with every nationality, you can find people who believe in Islam. Hajj is a chance for this huge community to gather together and be unified despite their differences.
So, during your journey, you may encounter people with different colors, languages, outfits, etc. Try to be respectful and modest toward everyone, no matter where they come from or how they look.
During Hajj you might have to join a group. And you will be with them every day of this one month period. You will accompany them in every ritual and action. So, try to prepare yourself for more cooperation and sacrifice. Sometimes you may need your roommate’s help, and in return, he/she may need yours. Try to be nice and generous.
After all, you want to participate in Hajj for a good reason: Self-awareness. This is a journey to find out who we are and why we are here. So, practice on the good in you and try to improve them. Be the best you can be. And prove that you deserve Allah’s invitation.
[i] One of the requirements for Hajj to be obligatory for a Muslim is financial ability – i.e., you have enough money to support yourself and your family on your journey .
[ii] Another requirement for performing Hajj is physical ability- i.e., Hajj is not obligatory for the sick, the old or those who are either unable or would face severe hardship .
[iii] Another requirement for obligatory Hajj is Sirbi ability - i.e., the route is open and safe .
[iv] To buy Ihram you can follow these links:
[v] Make sure about the kinds of medications you are allowed to have with you according to Saudi Arabia’s airport costume.
[vi] Make sure about the rules of Saudi Arabia with regard to carrying food in your packages at the airport.
- Hajj, The Holy Pilgrimage
Success is something that all human beings try to reach. In this world, some people are known to be successful. Others try to become like one of those successful people. And some people, who could never become like any of the successful characters, become depressed for the rest of their miserable, hopeless life!
People keep reading books about “how to become rich”, “how to become famous”, “how to become a great manager”, etc. And they define a successful person, as a person who is wealthy, popular and famous. But there are only a few people in the millions of world population who are well-known because of their wealth, eminence, and power, great scientific or athletic achievements. So, the majority of people are experiencing an unsuccessful, unhappy life. But is that the right definition of success?
In this article, I would like to share with you my understanding of success according to Islamic teachings. I will portray a description of success, without having to be a millionaire, a champion or a celebrity.
In the Holy Quran, the Arabic word for success “Falaah”. Falaah is translated as salvation because the person who attains success, has escaped and recovered from obstacles on the way to success. Having in mind the Quranic description of success, it is time to see what the Quran teaches us to become successful. Allah says in the Holy Quran “Certainly, the faithful have attained salvation” (23:1). And to describe one of the characteristics of those felicitous people, He says: “There has to be a nation among you summoning to the good, bidding what is right, and forbidding what is wrong. It is they who are the felicitous.” (3: 104)
However, an overall conclusion of all the Quranic verses about success could be defined in this Quranic phrase: “... and be wary of Allah so that you may be felicitous. (3: 200)
Also in chapter Baqarah Allah introduces the felicitous as those “who believe in the Unseen, maintain the prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them; and who believe in what has been sent down to you (prophet) and what was sent down before you, and are certain of the Hereafter. Those follow their Lord’s guidance, and it is they who are the felicitous.” (2: 3-5)
According to what we have said so far and what we are going to discuss, it would be better to classify some of the characteristics of successful people and some suggested methods for becoming successful.
In chapter Mu’menoon, Allah describes the characteristics of the successful or felicitous people as follows:
الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ ﴿2﴾
“Those who are humble in their prayers.”(23:2)
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَى صَلَوَاتِهِمْ يُحَافِظُونَ ﴿9﴾
“And are watchful of their prayers” (23: 9)
Not only in this chapter, but also in many other chapters, Allah emphasizes the on-time and humble prayer as a way to achieve success.
Apart from all the spiritual impacts of prayers on the human soul, practicing to pray on time and thus, to plan our daily routine based on our prayer time will help us have a disciplined program. Having the willpower to wake up at dawn for morning prayer is what distinguishes between successful and ordinary people.
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنِ اللَّغْوِ مُعْرِضُون ﴿3﴾
“And avoid vain talk.” (23:3)
By having a quick look at the life of almost every successful person, we can realize that they do not spend much time on useless things. “Vain talk” as mentioned in the Quran may refer to watching TV, hanging around on the Internet, unnecessary chats with friends and acquaintances, gossiping and following the uncertain and useless news. Of course, people who have a certain goal and are trying to reach it would avoid vain talk.
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِفُرُوجِهِمْ حَافِظُونَ ﴿۵﴾ إِلَّا عَلَى أَزْوَاجِهِمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ غَيْرُ مَلُومِينَ﴿6﴾
“And guard their private parts, (except their spouses or their slave women, for then they are not blameworthy” (23: 5,6)
Since human beings find comfort in their soulmates, successful people preferably find their soulmates and shape a family instead of wasting their time flirting with the real or virtual opposite sex. Being committed to family life is another way to keep one’s life disciplined.
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِأَمَانَاتِهِمْ وَعَهْدِهِمْ رَاعُونَ ﴿۸﴾
“And those who keep their trusts and covenants” (23: 8)
Being honest with people in the society is an important characteristic of a successful person. But more important than that is to be honest with one’s self. To become successful, we have to be able to trust ourselves. If we make a plan between God and us, we have to fulfill it. This can be a promise to read a page of the Quran every day, or to do daily exercise, etc.
But what makes people successful is to be consistent with their covenants.
In many Quranic verses giving charity is one of the main characteristics of the felicitous; those who “spend out of what We have provided for them…” (2: 4) What is the secret in giving charity? How could spending out wealth, enrich people?
In another verse of the Holy Quran, the two important habits that can bring calmness and abundance into one’s life is to be wary of Allah, and to put trust in Him:
“…Whoever is wary of Allah, He shall make for him a way out [of the adversities of the world and the Hereafter], and provide for him from whence he does not count upon. And whoever puts his trust in Allah, He will suffice him. Indeed Allah carries through His commands. Certainly, Allah has ordained a measure [and extent] for everything.” (65: 2, 3)
Allah (SWT) gives us a hint of becoming popular among other people;
“Indeed those who have faith and do righteous deeds—the All-beneficent will endear them [to His creation].” (19: 96)
One may say that these descriptions are all related to the afterlife. And if we keep praying all the time and stick to spirituality, we will have no improvement in this life.
But it is important to note that Allah does not say that praying, giving charity, being modest, and respecting the values and morals are the only things that we must do in our lives. Rather, Allah emphasizes the importance of hard work and effort to achieve human goals;
“nothing belongs to man except what he strives for” (53: 39)
The characteristics of the felicitous as described above, are additional characteristics. Human beings should have them alongside their hard work to fulfill their worldly mission. Some other characteristics of a real believer as described in chapter Tawbah are as follows: “[The faithful are] penitent, devout, celebrators of Allah’s praise, wayfarers, who bow [and] prostrate [in prayer], bid what is right and forbid what is wrong, and keep Allah’s bounds…” (9:112)
Being successful in this world is not good enough for a human to be recognized as a good servant of God. Many successful people in the world, who are being admired by their fans, are not successful in the eyes of God.
“Say, ‘Shall we inform you who are the biggest losers in their works? Those whose efforts are misguided in the life of the world, while they suppose they are doing good.” (18: 103, 104)
It is important that which ways we choose and go through to meet our goals. Do we consider all the morals and ethics in our path to success? Or we ignore some values to meet our goal?
So, in every successful situation that we gain or are about to gain, we have to open our eyes. And see if this achieved success is true according to Islamic teachings. Or it is only true according to the capitalist viewpoint.
If a person tries to gain all those characteristics, he/ she starts the process of purifying him/ herself. And purifying the self makes the soul a prepared field, in which every human talent can be planted and bloomed.
“Felicitous is he who purifies himself. And celebrates the Name of his Lord, and prays.” (87: 14).
In fact, there is only one secret to become successful, powerful, popular and wealthy. And the secret is to obey the rules of Allah and to completely submit to His orders. The point is that if one can fulfill all his/ her duties towards Allah, then as a natural rule he/ she will see the result of his/ her actions: “Whoever brings virtue shall receive [a reward] better than it.” (27: 89)
In conclusion, I would like to mention this divine narration: “My servant! Obey me, and I will make you lordly. I am the lively who will never die, and I will make you lively, so you never die. I am the wealthy who will never be poor, and I will make you wealthy, so you never become poor…” 
- Al- Jawahir al-sunniyah, p. 709
Today, more than anything, people are concerned about what they eat and drink. And that is for a good reason; for you to live a fuller life, you need a healthy body alongside a healthy mind. And you can function better in the society as well. So a useful and practical food diet is the one which can guarantee both of these factors.
This is only one reason why Islam has forbidden drinking alcohol. Let’s regard this matter in depth.
There are many verses in the Quran that directly or indirectly prohibit Muslims from drinking alcohol and emphasize the disadvantages of this action, one of which is as follows:
“O you who have faith! Indeed wine, gambling, idols, and the divining arrows are abominations of Satan’s doing, so avoid them, so that you may be felicitous. Indeed Satan seeks to cast enmity and hatred among you through wine and gambling and to hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. Will you, then, relinquish?” (5:90-91)
The above verse reveals two destructive effects of drinking alcohol. They are threatening to the society as well as each individual.
Morally speaking, it is evident in many instances that drinking alcohol lowers the brain’s function and makes it unclear  & . Thus the person would lose his/her control over his/her actions and could exhibit any behavior out of the moral boundaries. A simple misunderstanding, then, may cause a serious clash between the members of the society, since they are not in their right mind and cannot reason well.
Moreover, many car accidents in the society are caused by the drivers who have been under the influence of alcohol. According to a study:
Consuming alcohol before driving greatly increases the risk of car accidents, highway injuries, and vehicular deaths. The higher the amount of consumed alcohol, the more likely to be involved in an accident. When alcohol is consumed, many of the skills that safe driving requires – such as judgment, concentration, comprehension, coordination, visual acuity, and reaction time – become impaired .
The one who consumes alcohol will be occupied with such jubilant feeling caused by alcohol that he/she will forget his/her duty toward Allah. One of the essential teachings of Islam is that a Muslim should be able to feel Allah in his/her heart in every breath and His presence in all his/her actions [i].
Through drinking alcohol, even in small quantities, your mind loses its sharpness and focus to fully attend to your necessary actions as a Muslim, e.g., daily prayer (Salat).
We are born to be free, to choose and to decide for ourselves. That is why we are endowed with the power of reason. The one who drinks alcohol voluntarily drops the guard of his/her reasoning down. He/she deprives him/herself of the ability to choose the right manners and have control over his/her life. With an unclear mind no one can practice his right to choose, thus is not free!
The holy Quran says: “They ask you concerning wine and gambling. Say, ‘There is a great sin in both of them and some profits for the people, but their sinfulness outweighs their profit.’…” (2:219).
Almost in all our decisions, we are careful to choose the way that is more profitable for ourselves, be it financially, physically or morally. According to the Quran and many scientific studies, drinking alcohol brings more negative effects than positive. Thus its loss is way more than its profit. So it would be more rational to avoid drinking alcohol than to bear its negative consequences.
On the other hand, a lot of research conducted by scientists from all over the world shows that alcohol consumption has many detrimental effects on human health ,  & .
Brain and nervous system is the first part of the body that would be seriously harmed by drinking alcohol. According to research, “Heavy drinking can cause a form of nerve damage known as alcoholic neuropathy, which can produce a painful pins-and-needles feeling or numbness in the extremities as well as muscle weakness, incontinence, constipation, erectile dysfunction, and other problems” . Moreover, some scientists believe that one of the leading causes of depression is alcohol consumption.
According to a study:
1. “If you drink regularly, you increase your risk of developing pancreatitis.
2. Over the long term, drinking alcohol increases your risk of serious illnesses, such as mouth, throat and breast cancer
3. One of the most significant of these was the 2007 European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study which established a clear link between excessive alcohol intake and bowel cancer.
4. Drinking alcohol can contribute to the conditions that cause diabetes.
5. Our brains rely on a delicate balance of chemicals and processes. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it can disrupt that balance, affecting our thoughts, feelings, and actions – and sometimes our long-term mental health.
6. Drinking alcohol at any stage during pregnancy can cause harm to your baby and the more you drink, the greater the risk. This is why the UK Chief Medical Officers' (CMO) alcohol unit guideline advice to pregnant women is that the safest approach is to not drink alcohol at all during pregnancy.
7. Drinking alcohol can increase your risk of developing liver disease and cause irreparable damage to this significant part of your body. In fact, alcohol is a major cause of the 25% increase in deaths from liver disease in England over the last decade (from 9,231 in 2001 to 11,575 in 2009)”  & 
Finally, you may say that all these health effects of Alcohol are probable. Or a day will come that scientists will find a way to drop these adverse effects. If we have accepted to be Muslim, to surrender to the will of Allah, and believe that He desires the best for us in this world, then we would easily trust Allah’s commands.
So, trust Him in eliminating what He calls disadvantageous for you. And keep in mind that there is always a rationale behind whatever Allah commands; whether this logic has been revealed to us or not.
[i] Quran (33:41-42)