Time and time again, questions are asked regarding a Ḥajj that was performed in one’s previous years. It was his first Ḥajj – the obligatory one – but wishes to repeat it. When asked about the reasons, such a person lists an array of matters that he fell short towards knowingly or unknowingly, sins that he wishes he had not committed during the first Ḥajj, or opportunities that he wished he had made better use of. However, such a request cannot be fulfilled, for if one fulfils his Ḥajj, having met the conditions, then it will count as his obligatory Ḥajj despite the shortcomings, and everything after it is voluntary.
We, however, wish not to be like this questioner who, upon returning from Ḥajj, finds himself harbouring more regret than hope. It is for this reason that I wish to offer myself, as well as those who are intending to embark on this life and afterlife changing experience this year or at some point in their lives, several bits of advice:
1 – Before you leave, force your heart towards the correct direction.
Interrogate yourself in an aggressively sincere manner by asking: “What do I really want from this Ḥajj?”. Is it honestly Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) and the Home of the Hereafter? Or are there traces of insincere grime still latching on? Is it so that Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) praises you for being a pilgrim, or is it so that people say “such and such has performed Ḥajj a staggering x amount of times? Makkah is a place that has been visited by millions since time in memorial, and many of them have been, just like you, praised for their Ḥajj and enjoyed such a reputation for a certain amount of time, but now that they have become the dwellers of the soil, how have those words helped them in any way?
Many will carry out Ḥajj this year, millions in fact, but will every one of them walk away with the prize that they apparently came for? Imām Ibn al-Qayyim said:
فإن الرجلين يكون مقامهما في الصف واحدا، وبين صلاتهما في الفضل كما بين السماء والأرض
“Two men may be standing next to one another in the same line for prayer, but in reality, the difference between them is like that of the Heavens and Earth.” 
We will all wear the same clothes, visit the same sites, and experience fatigue like one another. But in Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā)’s Eyes, we are so different because of intentions that are invisible to us. On that note, are there signs of sincerity? There are many, but I will mention just one for now as it relates directly to our topic of Ḥajj.
Imām Ibn Rajab mentioned the story of a man from the past who used to embark on the journey of Ḥajj every year on foot. On one night whilst he was asleep, his mother requested from him a cup of water. He found himself very lazy, not finding the enthusiasm to get out of bed and bring his mother a cup of water. Here, he paused and reflected on how he found the eagerness to embark on Ḥajj yearly by foot but failed when it came to serving his mother, who was metres away. He realised that what was giving him the energy to carry out his yearly Ḥajj was the praise of people. This, therefore, became the beginning of his Islamic awakening. 
The fact that we find the willpower to travel across the other side of the globe and endure the hardship of Ḥajj, but we remain unmotivated to go across the road to pray ṣalāh al-ʿIshā’ in jamāʿah or to wake up on time for ṣalāh al-Fajr is a very worrying sign. This is why some of our predecessors said:
رب محرم يقول: “لبيك اللهم لبيك” فيقال له: لا لبيك ولا سعديك مردود عليك
“A pilgrim may say ‘Labbayk Allāhumma Labbayk’ (Here I am, at your service O Allāh, here I am) and the response from above is ‘I am not here for you nor your happiness. You are rejected.’”
When he was asked about this, he responded by saying:
لعله اشترى ناقة بخمسمائة درهم ورحلاً بمائتي درهم ومفرشاً بكذا، ثم ركب ناقته ورجل رأسه ونظر في عطفيه
“Perhaps he purchased his camel for 500 dirhams, and a saddle for 200 dirhams, and a mattress for such and such dirhams, then mounted his ride, combed his hair, admiring himself.” 
This is why ʿUmar b. al-Khattāb (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said:
الحاج قليل، والركب كثير
“The travellers for Ḥajj are so many, but the true doers of Ḥajj are so few.” 
2 – Your money could not have been spent on a worthier cause.
Before you make the decision to embark on Ḥajj and as you make the transfer of cash, and even after you do so, Shayṭān will be whispering. Putting aside the exploitation of governments, opportunist tour operators, or their likes, I remind about you as a financer for your Ḥajj. Every penny you spend will be compensated by Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) and will be seen on the Day of Judgement, thus, will allow your heart to rest.
Success is not about returning home and priding yourself about how you “only spent such and such amount of money” for the duration of the travel. This journey is not about saving money, it is about spending it on your Hereafter. I mention this as the questions that pilgrims pose indicate a different motive; an eager desire to save. He says, “I want to do both ʿboth ʿUmrah and Ḥajj”, so one responds with “you can engage in the tamattuʿ format of Ḥajj or qirān, both of which include Ḥajj and ʿUmrah”. He says, “No, I want to do ʿUmrah after Ḥajj”. You ask him why and he replies that it is due to the hadī (the sacrificial animal). He wishes to avoid it. This is not the mentality of someone who wishes to ransom himself from hell and earn Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā)’s love.
Consider these three sentences found in Sūrat al-Baqarah and keep them before your very eyes in the face of every opportunity in Makkah to spend on your Hereafter.
The first sentence:
وَمَا تُنْفِقُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَلِأَنْفُسِكُمْ
“And whatever good you spend is for your yourselves…”
Whether the amount is small or large, you are actually treating yourself and so make an effort in being kind to it.
The second sentence:
وَمَا تُنْفِقُونَ إِلَّا ابْتِغَاءَ وَجْهِ اللَّهِ
“And you do not spend but to seek Allāh’s pleasure…”
Therefore, do not wait for people to offer you thanks and express appreciation. Some may argue that they have been the one spending on them throughout the entire duration of the journey yet have not heard a single word of thanks. Sheikh al-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah said that those who do good to people via their wealth but await recognition and thanks have excluded themselves from the verse where Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) said:
إِنَّمَا نُطْعِمُكُمْ لِوَجْهِ اللَّهِ لَا نُرِيدُ مِنْكُمْ جَزَاءً وَلَا شُكُورًا
The third sentence:
وَمَا تُنْفِقُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ يُوَفَّ إِلَيْكُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ لَا تُظْلَمُونَ
“And whatever good things you spend shall be paid back to you in full, and you shall not be wronged.” 
A reassurance from Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā), The Most Rich, who knows just how much reassurance we stingy humans can need. All that you spend will find its way back to you, thus in the wake of every chance that presents itself to spend for your Hereafter, do not think twice; keep these three sentences in mind and watch how you will spend in confidence, contentment, inner peace, and excitement.
The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam)’s Ḥajj was the qirān format, whilst other scholars have argued that it was in fact in the ifrād format. If we were to work with the second opinion, he was not obligated to give any sacrificial animals. Despite this, he sacrificed 100 camels. Does our behaviour reflect this, or do we search through the list of sacrificial animals until we arrive at the cheapest option?
3 – Be more concerned with the quality of your worship than its quantity.
Who is greater in the eyes of Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā)? Is it one who is a pilgrim on a yearly basis but upon arriving, searches for every possible shortcut and simply cannot wait to throw it all behind him? Or is it one who barely has enough money to catch a bus ticket, let alone a flight for Ḥajj, but observes the pilgrims on TV as pain rips his heart apart and cries his eyes out, wishing to be with them? Who is dearer to al-Raḥmān?
Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) said:
الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا
“He is the One who created death and life in order to test you which of you will be best in deed…” 
Notice how “most in deed” was not mentioned in the āyah, but “best in deed”
You will be amazed at the 21st-century express-versions of Ḥajj where some arrive at the very last hour of the day of ʿArafah, sitting at the very edge of its boundaries. Then, after sunset, they go back their hotels. Is this the Ḥajj that Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) wants? What about Muzdalifah? He says, “I can compensate for it by giving a sacrifice”. What about the nights in Mina? He says, “I can compensate for it by giving a sacrifice”. What about the pelting of the stones? Again, he says, “I can compensate for it by giving a sacrifice”
So what is left for him? Well, all that is left is tawāf and saʿi. So he remains within the comfort of his hotel room or home city and returns back for tawāf and saʿi when the congestion has lessened, and that is the end of his Ḥajj. He did not shed a sweat, he did not fatigue in the least, and was not exposed to a single particle of dust, and then says, “Alḥamdulillāh, I do Ḥajj every year.” Is this a Ḥajj worthy of being proud of?
Consider two āyāt from Sūrat al-Kahf – one from the beginning and one from the end – both of which set out the conditions for an accepted act of worship:
وَيُبَشِّرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ الَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ الصَّالِحَاتِ أَنَّ لَهُمْ أَجْرًا حَسَنًا
“…and to give good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a good reward.” 
فَمَنْ كَانَ يَرْجُو لِقَاءَ رَبِّهِ فَلْيَعْمَلْ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا وَلَا يُشْرِكْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِ أَحَدًا
“So whoever would hope for the meeting with his Lord – let him do righteous work and not associate anyone in the worship of his Lord.” 
Focus on the quality of your Ḥajj – your sincerity, your presence of heart, your sense of bankruptcy to the King – as opposed to offering Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) loose change.
4 – Realise that greatness of time, place, and worship have all come together.
When Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) takes an oath upon a matter, realise that The Great is drawing your attention to something great. He said:
وَالْفَجْرِ * وَلَيَالٍ عَشْرٍ * وَالشَّفْعِ وَالْوَتْر
“By the Dawn. And by the ten nights. And by the even and odd.” 
The ten nights, according to the majority of scholars, are in reference to the first ten days of the month of Dhul Ḥijjah where the rites of Ḥajj happen. The “even” is in reference to the 10th day of Dhul Ḥijjah – Yawm al-Naḥr – whilst the “odd” is in reference to the ninth day – the day of ʿArafah.
The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said:
ما من أيامٍ العملُ أحبُّ إلى اللهِ فيهِنَّ من هذه الأيامِ
“There are no days in the year wherein Allāh loves the doing of good deeds within them than these days.” 
And he said:
ما من يومٍ أكثرَ من أن يُعتِقَ اللهُ فيهِ عبدًا من النارِ من يومِ عرفةَ وإنَّهُ ليدنو ثم يُباهي بهم الملائكةُ فيقول: ما أراد هؤلاءِ
“There are no days in the year wherein Allāh frees more people from the fire than the day of ʿArafah. On that day, Allāh draws near and praises them to the angels, saying: ‘What do they want?’” 
And he said:
خير الدعاء دعاء يوم عرفة
“The greatest duʿā’ that one can make is the duʿā’ on the day of ʿArafah.” 
Imām Ibn al-Qayyim and others have argued that the first 10 days of Dhul Ḥijjah are in fact greater than the last ten days of Ramaḍān, whilst the last ten nights of Ramaḍān are greater than the first ten nights of Dhul Ḥijjah. However, if one was to argue that these ten days of Dhul Ḥijjah are greater than the last ten days and nights of Ramaḍān – with the exception to Laylat al-Qadr – such an opinion would not be considered erroneous. That is because Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) took an oath on the nights of the first ten of Dhul Ḥijjah. Despite all of this, you find that these 10 days of Dhul Ḥijjah are severely underappreciated when compared to the last 10 nights of Ramaḍān.
Not only has the greatness of time and place come together during these days, but the greatness of worship; Ḥajj. In fact, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said to his wife, ʿĀishah (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanha):
لَكُنّ أفضل الجهاد حج مبرور
“For you (i.e. women), the greatest jihād is an accepted Ḥajj.” 
It is for these reasons that those who had realised all of this would race to fulfil their Ḥajj time and time again, despite their circumstances of travel being far harsher than ours today, as they travelled by foot or animal in a state fully exposed to the sun and other harm. Consider:
- Makki b. Ibrāhīm al-Handhali who performed Ḥajj 50 times.
- Jaʿfar al-Khawwās who performed Ḥajj around 60 times.
- Bukayr b. ʿAtīq who performed Ḥajj 60 times.
- ʿAlī b. al-Muwaffaq who performed Ḥajj 70 times.
- ʿAtā who performed Ḥajj 70 times.
- Abū ʿAbdillāhi al-Maqarri who performed Ḥajj 97 times.
As for those who performed Ḥajj around the 40-time mark, only Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) knows of their number.
One of our predecessors, Bishr b. Muḥammad, said:
“During my tawāf, I came across an old man who was clearly fatigued, leaning on a stick and doing tawāf around the Kaʿbah. I asked him about which country he had come from, to which he replied, ‘Khorāsān (greater Persia).’
The old man then asked me, ‘How long does it take you to get here?’
I responded, ‘Two or three months.’
He said, ‘Then you should be doing Ḥajj every year.’
So, I asked him: ‘How long does it take you to get here?’
He said, ‘Five years. I left my country for Makkah without a single grey hair in my head and beard.’” 
Some of those who did Ḥajj with Imām al-Awzāʿī said:
حججنا مع الأوزاعي فما رأيته مضطجعاً في المحمل في ليل ولا نهار قط، كان يصلي فإذا غلبه النوم استند إلى القَتب
“We did Ḥajj with al-Awzāʿī and I do not remember seeing him resting on his side during any hour of the day or night. He would pray until he would be overcome by sleep. At that point, he would lean on a stick.” 
Furthermore, Ibn Abī Shaybah – a scholar of ḥadīth – has given a chapter within his work al-Musannaf the following title:
مَنْ كَانَ يَسْتَحِبُّ إِذَا دَخَلَ الرَّجُلُ مَكَّةَ أَنْ لَا يَخْرُجَ حَتَّى يَقْرَأَ الْقُرْآنَ
“Chapter: The narrations of those who encouraged the visitors of Makkah to complete the recitation of the whole Qur’ān before they leave.”
Try not to complain of “arriving early. It is still day four, five, or six” etc. At this moment in time and place, you could not be doing anything greater than what you are in, as Ibn Taymiyyah mentioned that the greatest actions of worship are those deeds that suit the situation that one is in. Thus, when a guest arrives to one’s house, the greatest deed one can carry out is attending to the guest. Similarly, the best deed one can carry out during the season of Ḥajj are the actions that are linked to Ḥajj So, remain enthusiastic as the greatness of time, place, and worship have all come together.
5 – Set yourself a target of al-Ḥajj al-Mabrūr
The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said:
من حج، فلم يرفث ولم يفسق، رجع كيوم ولدته أمه
“Whoever performs Ḥajj and does not have sexual relations (with his wife), nor commits sin, then he returns from Ḥajj as pure and free from sins as on the day on which his mother gave birth to him.” 
He also said:
العمرة إلى العمرة كفارة لما بينهما، والحج المبرور ليس له جزاء إلا الجنة
“Carrying out one ʿUmrah after another is a means of erasing the sins in between them, and the reward for a Ḥajj that is mabrūr (accepted) is none other than Jannah.” 
Set your eyes on this as your goal – a Ḥajj that is mabrūr. However, to qualify ourselves for such a magnificent prize, a magnificent Ḥajj must be what we offer Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) – one that is free from backstabbing, excessive complaining, treacherous glances, time-wasting – and when you feel that you are on the verge of slipping, remember the Ḥajj ethic of those before us in route to a mabrūr Ḥajj.
Anas b. Mālik (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) entered into a state of Ḥajj and his companions said:
ما سمعناه متكلماً إلا بذكر الله حتى حل، ثم قال: يا ابن أخي هكذا الإحرام
“We did not hear him say anything except the remembrance of Allāh until the end of his pilgrimage. Then he said: ‘My brother, this is how one behaves when in iḥrām.’” 
Furthermore, whenever Shurayḥ would enter into the state of iḥrām, it was as if he was a mute snake. 
ʿAtā (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said:
رأيت عبد الله بن عمر وعبد الله بن عباس يطوفان بالبيت جميعاً كأن على رءوسهما الطير تخشعاً
“I saw the two companions, ʿAbdullāhi b. ʿUmar and ʿAbdillāhi b. ʿAbbās, circumambulating around the Kaʿbah. They were so serene and humble that it was as if birds were sat on their heads.” 
ʿAtā (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) also said:
طفت وراء ابن عمر وابن عباس فلم أسمع أحداً منهما يتكلم في الطواف
“I did tawāf behind ‘Abdullahi b. ‘Umar and ‘Abdillahi b. ‘Abbas and I did not hear either of them utter a single word (i.e. with the exception to the remembrance of Allāh).” 
Such hard work comes as no surprise, for they were fully aware of what a mabrūr Ḥajj entailed. As for many of us, Ḥajj is a time to unveil the selfie stick, to stream ‘live feeds from Makkah’, and to carefully choose the most religiously scenic backdrops for the Instagram uploads. Wherever you look, you cannot help but notice the never-ending posing, flashes, videoing, and snapping. Is this the state of ikhbāt (humility) that reflects the heart of a pilgrim who fears his sins and is desperate for a clean slate?
A sign that your Ḥajj is mabrūr is that you will see a change in yourself when you return – a change of heart, change of mind, change in manners, change in priorities, change in purpose, change of how you spend your weekends and spare time, change in sleeping patterns and hours of wakefulness. An accepted Ḥajj changes everything.
You arrive back to your home having realised that your Ḥajj was about an agreement that you had made with Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) – a promise that you shall die as a Muslim, that you shall dedicate your life to Him, and that it will never be the same way again.
6 – Your reward will be proportional to your effort.
Hardship, as Imām al-Shāṭibī and others have stated, is not to be sought in of itself nor does the Sharīʿah make it an objective. What this heading refers to are the hardships that come about by themselves without one seeking it. Ḥajj is, according to the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), a form of jihād, and so whoever makes the trip expecting it to be a holiday has made a mistake.
The pilgrim is to prepare himself to be challenged physically and mentally. You may, at times, not find a mattress to sleep on. At other times, food may run out before you get your portion or it may be cold. You may get ill; your car may break down; you may be stuck in a bus for several hours and AC breaks down. You may arrive at Muzdalifah and the space allocated for your group has been taken by someone else. You may arrive at Mina late and all the good spots have been taken. Well, assuming that you need to sleep on a rock, it really is not about what you enjoy in Ḥajj, it is about what you go home with.
The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said to ʿĀishah (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanha):
إِنَّ لَكِ مِنَ الْأَجْرِ قَدْرَ نَصَبِكِ وَنَفَقَتِكِ
“Your reward will be directly proportionate to your effort and spending.” 
When you feel that such challenges are on the verge of getting the better of you, recall at once the burdens of those before you and what they endured.
Anas b. Mālik (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said:
حج النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – على رحل رث وقطيفة تساوي أربعة دراهم أو لا تساوي، ثم قال: اللهم حجة لا رياء فيها ولا سمعة
“The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) performed Ḥajj on an old saddle, wearing a cloak that was worth four dirham or less. Then he said: ‘O Allah, a Ḥajj in which there is no showing off nor reputation sought.’” 
In fact, Anas b. Mālik (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) narrated:
حدث أن رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – حج على رحل وكانت زاملتَه
“That the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) carried out Ḥajj on an animal that was carrying his belongings as well.” 
In other words, he did not opt for comfort. Whilst others would prefer to dedicate an animal as their ride and another for their luggage, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) – from his humbleness – used one animal for both.
Saʿīd b ʿAmr (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said:
صدرتُ مع ابن عمر يوم الصدر، فمرت بنا رفقة يمانية ورحالهم الأُدُم، وخُطم إبلهم الخُزم – يعني من الليف، فقال عبد الله بن عمر: من أحب أن ينظر إلى أشبه رفقة وردت الحج العام برسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – وأصحابه إذْ قدموا في حجة الوداع فلينظر إلى هذه الرفقة
“I was travelling once with Ibn ʿUmar for Ḥajj when we saw some fellow travellers from Yemen. Their saddles (on camels) were of leather and their reins were made out of hair (i.e. very primitive equipment). He said: ‘If anyone would like to see people most resembling the companions of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) during the farewell pilgrimage he should see them.” 
Comfort, clean clothes, ease and convenience are not objectives of Ḥajj. Al-Mundhirī titles a chapter in his work, al-Targhīb wa al-Tarhīb:
الترغيب في التواضع في الحج، والتبذل، ولبس الدون من الثياب اقتداء بالأنبياء – عليهم الصلاة والسلام
“The encouragement of being humble in Ḥajj and to be dishevelled, whilst wearing lesser quality clothes in imitation of the prophets.”
The requests that are made to tour operators are, at times, beyond belief. “Can I have my own tent in ʿArafah?” “What type of bedding do you provide in the hotels – American or Italian?” “Are the toilets fully ceramic?” “Do you provide swimming facilities?” “Do you provide private healthcare?” “What varieties of salads will you provide?” “Do you provide guards who can accompany me during my stoning of the jamarāt?”
With the advent of modern-day transport, remember the many thousands before you failed to reach the destination that you will have now arrived at. How many tears have been shed; how many travellers were robbed of their possessions; how many families were separated; and how many lives were claimed by land or sea without ever getting a chance to cast a glance at the Kaʿbah? The stories, in this regard, are beyond count, with narrations of those who just about made it and narrations of those who were buried in the attempt.
One of these stories is that of a well-known Sheikh from West Africa, Sheikh Uthman Daabo from Gambia. He once spoke to his friends, reminding them how Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) has given them wellbeing, yet they have not responded to the call of Prophet Ibrāhīm (ʿalayhi al-Salām) where, after he finished building the Kaʿbah, he called upon humanity to fulfil their Ḥajj. Sheikh Uthman, therefore, decided to embark on the journey with four of his friends. For the majority of the journey, they walked, only riding a handful of times. They would stop at certain cities where they would find jobs to help finance their journey, then they would proceed and so on. They left their homes with only enough food for only one week despite it being a journey that would end up lasting two years.
The pains, anguish, and horrors that they experienced, as Sheikh Uthman said, are not truly known to anyone but Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā), for how many nights did they spend in a state of near-death starvation? How many nights were they pursued by wild animals costing them much-needed sleep? How many nights did they find themselves running away from highway robbers?
Sheikh ‘Uthman said, “On one night, I was stung by a scorpion and fevered severely because of it. The pain was so intense that I was up the entire night and felt that I could smell death running through my veins. My friends would go for work whilst I would remain next to a tree until they would return in the evening.
At that moment, I became very weak and Shayṭān’s whisperings intensified, as he said to me ‘Why didn’t you stay home? Why did you put yourself in this hardship whilst Ḥajj was not even an obligation upon you?’
My soul felt very heavy and was on the verge of breaking. When my friends returned, one of them looked at me and asked me how I was. I turned away from him, trying to hide my feelings, but he saw the tears in my eyes.
He understood my pain, so he said to me, ‘Get up, do wuḍū’ and pray two units of ṣalāh.’ I did just that and felt that Allāh had renewed my strength and placed ease in my heart.”
Dear brothers and sisters, three of his four friends died during the journey, the last of them being consumed by the Red Sea. The Sheikh said:
“When our third friend died, I was struck with overwhelming grief and feared that I too would die before I arrive at al-Masjid al-Ḥarām. I was counting down the days and hours eagerly. We arrived at Jeddah, I fell severely ill and believed that this would be the end. I read out my will to those with me and instructed them that, if I were to die, to dress me in my iḥrām clothing and to bring my corpse as close as possible to Makkah, perhaps Allāh may increase my reward and accept me as a pilgrim.” 
He continued: “We remained in Jeddah for a few days and then continued our journey to Makkah. My excitement was mounting, the joy from my face was unmissable and the yearning to see the Kaʿbah was shaking me, until we finally arrived at the House of Allāh.”
At this point, Sheikh ‘Uthman – who narrates this incident – went quiet and broke down into heavy weeping. After wiping away the tears, he took an oath by Allāh’s name that he has never experienced a greater pleasure like the pleasure of that moment when his eyes finally fell upon the Kaʿbah.
He said: “When I saw it, I fell on my face in prostration in thanks to Allāh and cried in awe like the crying of a child.”
If and when the hardships of Ḥajj seem unbearable, this is a story to bear in mind along with the principle that states, “Your reward will be directly proportionate to your effort and spending.”
 al-Ṣalāh wa Hukmu Tārikihā
 Latā’iful Maʿārif
 Latā’iful Maʿārif, Ibnu Rajab
 Al-Ṣalāh wa Ahkāmu Tārikihā, Ibn al-Qayyim
 Al-Qur’ān 76:9
 Majmūʿ al-Fatāwāh
 Al-Qur’ān 2:272
 Al-Qur’ān 67:2
 Al-Qur’ān 18:2
 Al-Qur’ān 18:110
 Al-Qur’ān 89:1-3
 Musnad Aḥmad, on the authority of Ibn ʿAmr
 Muslim, on the authority of ʿĀishah
 Al-Tirmidhi, on the authority of ʿ Amr b. Shuʿayb ʿan Abīhi ʿan Jaddihi
 Tafsīr al-Thaʿlabi
 Siyar Aʿlām Nubalā’
 Al-Bukhārī and Muslim, on the authority of Abū Hurayrah
 Al-Bukhārī and Muslim, on the authority of Abū Hurayrah
 Kitāb al-Ṭabaqāt al-Kubrā
 Siyar Aʿlām Nubalā’
 Akhbāru Makkah, Al-Fākihi
 Al-Musannaf, Ibn Abī Shaybah
 Ibn Mājah
Shaykh Ali Ihsan Hammuda is Islam21c’s Tarbiya Editor. A UK national of Palestinian origin, he gained bachelors and masters’ degrees in Architecture & Planning from the University of the West of England, before achieving a BA in Shari’ah from al-Azhar University in Egypt. He is currently based in Wales and is a visiting Imām at Al-Manar Centre in Cardiff, and also a senior researcher and lecturer for the Muslim Research & Development Foundation in London. Shaykh Ali is the author of several books including ‘The Daily Revivals’, ‘The Ten Lanterns’ and ‘The Friday Reminder’. He delivers sermons, lectures and regular classes across the country.