By Amreen Pathan
Hajj is the name given to the annual pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah (situated in Saudi Arabia) by Muslims around the world. Hajj is a 3-5 day event that starts on the 8th day of Dhul Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is obligatory for every Muslim at least once in their lifetime, provided they are physically able and while having the financial means to do so.
For Those Intending Hajj
The first thing you would do in preparation for Hajj is to book your trip.
It is essential to keep in mind that scammers are not afraid to use Hajj to commit fraud against the unwise. Therefore, you should proceed with caution and only book with agencies authorized by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.
It would be wise to begin with a list of essential things to pack for your trip to Makkah. It is recommended to pack a few sets of Ihram clothing, as you are prone to getting them dirty throughout the pilgrimage. For footwear, it is advisable to pack sturdy slippers that are waterproof. It must be ensured that the slippers should conform to the requirements of ihram.
When packing toiletries, they need to be scent-free according to the Ihram rules. Traversing through the hot, sunny desert area in Makkah necessitates the use of sunscreen for your skin health, so it would be worth it to include in your packing list. An umbrella would also come in handy to shade you from the scorching heat.
Planning ahead and budgeting would take you far and minimize unnecessary costs. If you plan on keeping in touch with your loved ones back home, purchasing a local SIM card would save you from expensive roaming costs. There are various restaurants and eateries around the Masjid-al-Haram, varying in costs. You should familiarize yourself by searching about them online and find the ones that fit your budget. 
Preparing spiritually for the trip would entail making amends and abandoning major and minor sins to the greatest degree as the end goal of the pilgrimage is to ensure the complete forgiveness of all your previous sins. 
“Abu Huraira (May Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) as saying:
He who came to this House (Ka’bah) (with the intention of performing pilgrimage), and neither spoke indecently nor did he act wickedly would return (free from sin) as on the (very first day) his mother bore him.” 
To make sure your Hajj is accepted, you should make sure your speech is free from obscenity, and your behaviour is acceptable. Working on adopting good behavioral traits before embarking on the journey would make it easier not to fall into indecent speech or inappropriate behaviour.
Additionally, you would want to inform others that you will go for Hajj, as they would likely have some dua requests. Making a list of dua requests for you and others would be helpful as it is very easy to forget in the moment.
As this is not the place to discuss in detail the rituals and rulings related to Hajj, I advise you refer to your local scholars as well as reading the right material that informs on the essential details of Hajj.
Some Guidelines on Ud’hiyyah (Qurbani)
Virtues of Ud’hiyyah
Zayd Ibn Arqam (radhiyallahu anhu) relates that the Companions asked, “O Messenger of Allah! What is Ud’hiyyah (sacrificing an animal in its season)?” He replied, “It is the Sunnah of your father Ibrahim (Pbuh).” They asked again, “What benefit do we get from it?” He answered, “A reward for every hair (of the sacrificed animal).” “And (what reward is there for animals with) wool, O Messenger of Allah?” they asked. “A reward”, he said, “for every fibre of the wool.” (Ibn Majah).
The Liability Threshold of Ud’hiyyah
Ud’hiyyah (or Qurbani) is compulsory on every adult Muslim who is in possession of the liability threshold – 612.36 grams of silver (or its equivalent in money, gold or silver, share-stock, or any other form of wealth) – which is surplus to the basic needs.
Every adult in possession of the liability threshold is required to carry out the sacrifice, and one sacrifice on behalf of the whole family is not enough. Hence, Ud’hiyyah is binding upon one’s adult children too, if indeed they are separately in possession of the liability threshold.
Alternative to Ud’hiyyah
It should be noted that there is no alternative to Ud’hiyyah. So no amount of monetary can compensate for the ritual, which is to be performed. However, if for some reason someone has not been able to perform the ritual of Ud’hiyyah on the three prescribed days (10th, 11th and 12th of Dhu’l Hijjah) then they can give in Sadaqah the price of a sacrificial animal. The beneficiaries will be those entitled to receive Zakah. However, during the days of Ud’hiyyah, no amount of money will compensate for the obligation.
The Time of Ud’hiyyah
The ritual of Ud’hiyyah is valid during the three days of Dhul Hijjah, 10th, 11th, and 12th only, of which the first day (10th of Dhul Hijjah) being the most desired of the three days.
It should also be remembered that Ud’hiyyah will only take place following the Eid Salah and not before.
Ruling on Hair and Nails
It is desirable (not compulsory) that those intending to perform Ud’hiyyah (even though not planning to perform Hajj) abstain from cutting their hair or clipping their nails from the 1st Dhul Hijjah to 10th Dhul Hijjah, (until after the Ud’hiyyah is performed).
The above is a summary of the rulings of Ud’hiyyah. It is important to study in detail and approach the scholars for further information on these important matters.
- Islamic-relief.org.uk. 2021. Hajj Pilgrimage – a Guide to Hajj | Islamic Relief UK. [online] Available at: <https://www.islamic-relief.org.uk/islamic-resources/hajj-in-islam/hajj-guide/> [Accessed 19 May 2021].
- Blog, A., pilgrimage, H. and pilgrimage, H., 2021. How to Prepare for a Hajj Trip to Makkah | Hajj Guide | AccorHotels. [online] ACCORHOTELS Makkah. Available at: <https://makkah-madinah.accor.com/how-to-prepare-for-a-hajj-pilgrimage/> [Accessed 19 May 2021].
- Malik, M., 2021. Spiritual Preparation for Hajj. [online] MuslimMatters.org. Available at: <https://muslimmatters.org/2017/08/18/spiritual-preparation-for-hajj/> [Accessed 19 May 2021].
- Sunnah.com. 2021. Sahih Muslim 1350a – The Book of Pilgrimage – كتاب الحج – Sunnah.com – Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم). [online] Available at: <https://sunnah.com/muslim:1350a> [Accessed 19 May 2021].