Are you going on Hajj? Do you plan to put on the Ihram in one of the designated places, to enter the Sacred Mosque and do the Tawaf (Circumambulation)? Do you plan to go out of your abode in Makkah on the 7th and 8th of the month of Dhul Hajj in order to camp in Mina? Do you plan to camp on Mount ‘Arafah in order to relive the day in which your Prophet delivered that memorable speech? Do you plan to experience, ahead of time, the day of resurrection when humanity, “white”, “black”, “yellow”, “red”, rich and poor would stand in front of Allah, in nudity, to account for their actions, inactions, deeds and misdeeds while on earth?
If your response to the above is yes, then it is useful for me and you to prepare as follows for the journey to Saudi Arabia.
In the first instance, the Prophet (upon him be peace and blessings of Allah) admonishes us that before we embark on journeys the like of which you now intend, we should pause and consider the possibility the journey could be the last one on earth for us and, by implication, the beginning of the eternal one to the Almighty.
Thus, an intending pilgrim should repent of all sins he has committed before stepping inside the aircraft. If the sin is an infraction against the injunction of Allah, a sin you committed and about which only Allah is a witness (and Allah is enough a witness over His creatures), you seek His forgiveness, regret deeply for the error and enter a covenant with your creator on your resolve, should He preserve your life till you return from Hajj, that you would not travel that same heinous path again.
Now, if the sin you committed is against a fellow human being; perhaps it is a sin against your parents, your co-worker, your neighbour, then you have two pathways to follow. First, if the sin has to do with the honour (‘ird) of the person in question, you should seek the latter’s forgiveness in person before you begin to seek the forgiveness of your Creator.
If the sin has to do with something physical, perhaps its money you unjustly appropriated or something that you know does not belong to you, you have to return the thing to its owner, seek his forgiveness and thereafter, seek the redemption of your Creator. You should do all these because your Hajj would likely be invalid while somebody’s property is unjustly under your care. You should not embark on a spiritual journey to Makkah while your soul is enshackled by the iniquitous acquisition of worldly properties and gains.
Having said the above, it needs no emphasis to state that the hajj rites that would be accepted by Allah from His servants are the ones which are prosecuted with lawful means. In other words, a governor who diverts public funds into providing Hajj seats to some Muslims with the intention to maintain their political patronage would suffer double jeopardy. He would be held to account for bad governance of the state under his watch; he would equally be held to account for transacting in spiritual corruption.
Once you are done with this, the next thing for you to do is to write your will. The Prophet says: It is the duty of a Muslim who has anything to bequest not to let two nights pass without writing a will about it.
Going to Hajj presupposes we are prepared to be tested by Allah. In other words, even though Hajj means the embarkation on the best spiritual journey for the Muslims, it is equally, and quite ironically, the greatest platform upon which our claims as Muslims, our posturing as servants of the Almighty can come to the fore.
Thus, while packing your luggage, do not forget to include patience and perseverance; as you are stepping on the airplane, do not forget your coat of piety and sacrifice. Brethren, was it not in paradise that Prophet Adam and Hauwa (Upon them be peace) were tested? If you are given to quarrel, if you are the type who always wants people to say sorry to him when he is stepped upon, if you are highly irascible and very temperamental, then you have to re-read your resolve to embark on the journey to Makkah and Madinah. Hajj is the only journey on earth that provides humans with the greatest opportunity to be successful here and in the hereafter. Thus, much care is necessary so that the opportunity may be maximized.
Dear pilgrim, constantly keep in mind that the Hajj exercise is first and foremost a spiritual assignment; that it is not for tourism. Avoid the temptation, therefore, to turn your tawaf and sa’y between Safa and Marwa, and the standing in Arafah to tourist exercises. Avoid the temptation to engage in frivolities. Keep in mind the importance of these rites so that you may have the full measure of their treasures.
Again, keep in mind this may be the last time you would have the chance to visit the Kaa’ba and remember to pray for your country, Nigeria.