In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
The Declining Day (Al-'Asr) 1. By the declining day, 2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss, 3. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance.
Labbayk, Allahumma, Labbayk, Labbayk, La Shareeka laka, Labbayk Innal-hamda wan n’mata laka wal-mulk, La shareekala – (Here I am at Your service, O Lord here I am, No partner do You have, Here I am, Truly the praise and the favour is Yours and the dominion. No partner do You have).
Dhul-hijjah is the 12th month of the Muslim calendar of Hijra. This is the month Muslim perform hajj, with its peak when they do ‘wukuf’ (to stop or gather) in Arafah (or Arafat) on the 9th Dhul-hijjah.
Wukuf, being the highest 'rukun' (component) of hajj must be rendered; without which hajj does not take place. The requirement is the presence in Arafat, regardless of whether the pilgrim is riding, walking, sitting or moving. In Arafat one is to spend the afternoon from dhuhr (midday)to maghrib (sunset) prayer times making du’aa (supplications) and repenting to leave Arafat with all of one's sins forgiven.
For Muslims who are not performing hajj in their homelands, they are encouraged to perform recommended deeds during the first 10 days of Dhul-hijjah such as fasting especially on ‘Wukuf’ day and giving charity. Then during Eid Adha (10th Dhul-Hijjah) when Muslims perform ‘solat’ (Eid prayers) and the days of Tashreek (11, 12, and 13th Dhul-Hijjah) they are recommended to do the slaughter or ‘korban’ (sacrifice) animals (such as sheep and cow).
Muslims from all corners of the world gathered in the Holy Land to perform the hajj manasik (rites and ceremonies performed at hajj). After Arafah, the pilgrims would then proceed towards Muzdalifah and pick up pebbles there to be used when stoning the Pillar of Aqabah or Qubra on Eid Adha (10th Dhul-Hijjah).
In Mina, they are required to stay for three nights where they will stone the three ‘jamrahs’ beginning with the first Pillar (i.e. the one which is furthest from Makkah), followed by the middle Pillar and lastly the Pillar of Aqabah. The pilgrims will also shave their heads or cut their hair and then proceed to Makkah to perform the Tawaf Al-Ifadah (circling the Kaabah seven times which is an essential part of Hajj) and then perform Sa’y (walking seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwa). While waiting for the the big day (Wukuf), pilgrims fulfill their days by performing prayers and 'tawaf' in the Grand Masjid of Makkah (Masjidil-Haram).
Some prefer to perform ‘umra’ (small hajj) again and again but they are advised not to it frequently as they needed a lot of energy to prepare for the hardship of hajj. It is advisable to perform hajj when one is at a young age. Perhaps the time is right when one is in his thirties or forties because physically and mentally he is fit to fulfil some ‘robust’ obligations that need strength and stamina such as stoning the devils at the jamrahs in Mina. Furthermore pilgrims have to use the power of their legs for activities such as walking frequently (perhaps five times daily for 'fardu' prayers) from one’s hotel room to the Prophet's Masjid (in Madinah) and Al-Haram Masjid (in Makkah). During hajj, a distance of one or two kilometers from the hotels and the masjids are normal.
For hajj or umrah obligations such as tawaf and sa’y, one has to walk a distance; for example for sa’y when one has to walk seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwah, the distance could be more than four kilometers (600 meters x 7)! When performing the stoning of the devils, it is normal for pilgrims to walk quite a far distance, perhaps two to three kilometres from their tents in Mina to the jamrah. Pilgrims are supposed to stay for four days and three nights in Mina (10, 11, 12 and 13 Dzul-hijjah) dan stone the three jamras everyday during the stay except during 10th Dzul-hijjah (Eid) when pilgrims only stone the main jamrah (Jamrah Al-Aqabah). Thus, to perform hajj one should be physically and mentally fit, so it is advisable to Muslim to take the necessary steps for example started saving from an early age, hoping and praying one could perform the fifth pillar of Islam at the earliest time possible and not at old age.
Writing about my own experience in the Holy Land after being there a few times, I loved to be ‘alone’ (without the presence of known companions near me) in places such as Majidil-Haram and while gathering in Plains of Arafah because I had the feeling of nearness to Allah SWT. Without the presence of ‘a known person’ close to me, I could ‘freely’ pour out my heart to Allah SWT. I was free to shed tears without the feeling of being ‘observed’ by ‘close relatives and friends’.
When you are ‘alone’ it is easy for you to talk and admitted about your past sins and then beg forgiveness from the Almighty. In one such occasion, I was sobbing, lost for words. I reached for my small du’aa book and read the supplications, among others:
O Allah! I ask of Your integrity and soundness in my religion, my life, my family, and my possessions.
O Allah! Cover my shame, pacify my fears, guard me from what is in front of me and behind me, from what is on my right and on my left, over my head and under my feet.
O Allah! Grant health to my body. O Allah grants health to my hearing. O Allah! Grant heath to my sight. There is no deity except You.
O Allah! You are my Lord. There is no deity except You. You are my Creator and I am Your creature. I try to keep my covenant with You and to live in the hope of Your promise as well as I can. I seek refuge in You from my own evil deeds. I acknowledge Your favours to me, and I acknowledge my sins. Forgive me my sins, for there is no one who can forgive sins except You.
O Allah! I seek refuge in You from worry and sorrow. I seek refuge in You from impotence and sloth, from stinginess and cowardice, and I seek refuge in You from the burden of debt and from being humbled by men.
O Allah! Make the beginning of this day good, the middle prosperous, and the end successful. I ask You to grant me the good of this world and of the Hereafter. O Most Merciful of all Who show us mercy!
O Allah! You hear my words, You behold my situation, You know what is open and what is hidden within me; nothing is hidden from You. It is me alone who is in need, a humble seeker of Your forgiveness. I beseech You with humility in my heart, with trembling and fear, in prostration and utter helplessness.
O Allah! Grant me soundness of belief, goodness of character, forgiveness of my sins, and Your eternal pleasure in the Hereafter. – Ameen
Well, when a ‘hajji’ or ‘hajjah’ returns to his/her homeland, he or she has a huge burden or responsibility on his or her back. Among others, he or she is a messenger of good faith and must shine so that others could follow his or her steps.
Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam, so whoever has performed hajj, he/she is supposed to produce the finest in whatever they do, keeping in line with the teachings of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him, pbuh).