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Haj is one of the fundamental pillars of Islam. It is obligatory on every adult, sane Muslim, having sufficient means for undertaking the journey, to perform Haj once in life time. Almighty Allah says in holy Quran:
 
And Haj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Kaa’bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who can afford the expenses (for one’s conveyance, provision and residence).” (Al-Imran: 96-97)

The messenger of Allah (SAW) has emphasized its importance in a Hadith reported by Muslim

“Oh Men! The Haj has been made obligatory (fard) on you. So keep this commandment” (Muslim).

On Whom Haj is Obligatory
For the incumbency of Haj some pre-requisite conditions have been deliberated in the books of Ahadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad) which can be summed up that the intending pilgrim must be: -
1.    An Adult Muslim
2.    Sane and good in health
3.    having sufficient money earned through lawful means, for the expenses of the journey.
4.    There should be enough provisions left for the support of the family during his absence.
5.    Journey should be safe and there should be no problem in reaching Makkah.
                 In addition to these, for a woman there is one more legal obligation that she must perform the pilgrimage in the company of her husband or a Mahram (with whom under no circumstances it is lawful for her to marry) e.g Father, Son, Brother, Maternal Uncle, Uncle, Nephew, Grandson, Son-in-Law, grandfather, maternal grandfather etc. In the similar vein, a woman should refrain from Haj during Iddat (The term of probation incumbent upon a woman in consequence of dissolution of marriage either by divorce or the death of her husband).
Preparation for Haj
On confirmation of selection, make it a habit to inculcate among yourself humility, fear of Allah, and modesty and introspect the past sins, mistakes, shortcomings and repentance for these. Aspire for the acceptance of Haj by Allah in your favour and removal of obstacles in its realization in your benedictions. Besides upholding the obligatory prayers on time, offer supplementary (Nawafil) prayers especially Tahajjud (Night Prayer) with consistency. In addition to these remove mutual grievances and clear off your debts. Appoint somebody from your group as head (Amir) and obey his orders during the journey. Before departure and after arrival don’t organize gluttonous feasts.
On the day of Departure
After performing Salat al Layl, i.e. Tahajjud seek Allah’s mercy with humility, remorse and tranquility for making the pilgrimage of Haj easy and acceptable.
 Before the time of Departure
After ablution or bath (Ghusul) offer two Rak’ahs of Naful and start the journey for Haj. It is essential here to note that these two Rak’ahs have no relation with Haj or Umrah but it is in essence of Prophet’s (SAW) practice that he always initiated a journey by offering two Rak’ahs in the Masjid.
Abstaining from Innovation (Bid’ah)
1.   While departing, men should refrain from shaking hands with Ghayr—Mahram women and women with Ghayr-Mahram men.
2.   Garlanding the Pilgrims at the time of departure should be avoided as it does not fall in line with the Islamic Principles.
3.   With honor, grace, humility and benevolence in medium tone read out Kalima-i-Tawheed and say Durood-i-Ibrahim while departing. Uncecessary sloganeering must be shunned. One must also prevent one’s friends and acquaintances from raising Takbeer in mixed voices of men and women.
          During whole journey discipline, fraternity, Self-Sacrifice and humility must be displayed and maintained.

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