Top Five Things to Pack for Hajj

Top five things to pack for hajj

1) Clothing and Toiletries

Pack in one extra set of Ihram, comfortable clothing for the number of days you are travelling, a shawl or sweater (for any unexpected chilliness at night), socks and undergarments. Take along two pairs of inexpensive slippers and a drawstring bag to carry them when entering the mosque. Men can keep a cap to cover their heads, when they are not in the state of Ihram.

Pack in soap, shampoo, deodorant as well as a non-fragrance soap and travel soap dish to use when in state of Ihram. Keep small scissors, a nails cutter, a disposable razor, a set of towels and a small packet of detergent to wash your clothes.

2) Accessories

Keep a money belt or vest with pockets to keep money hidden. Also, keep sunglasses, –+prescription/reading spectacles, and a spectacle-holding string to secure your glasses. Remember to wear plastic name tags for identification (especially important, if you have small children with you).

Also pack a light prayer rug, an alarm clock, your mobile and it’s charger, an umbrella, a flashlight for when you go to Muzdalifah, a flask or water bottle, three sandwich sized zip-lock bags or drawstring cloth bags for pebbles that you collect from Muzdalifah and a medium sized handbag for everyday use to hold glasses, medicines, Quran, prayer rug, etc.

3) Medicines

Illnesses are easy to catch, when there are three million people coming from around the world! Pack in one course of broad spectrum Antibiotics, pain-killers, cough syrup, band-aids, pain-relief ointments as well as any special medication you need for conditions such as diabetes, asthma, hypertension. Remember to keep a prescription written by the doctor for the medicines you are carrying.

4) Documents and Finances

Double-check that you have with you the originals and photocopies of your passports and tickets in separate suitcases. Take along the confirmation letters from hotels and travel documents. Keep a sufficient amount of money in US dollars and Saudi Riyals. It may be a good idea to keep in extra photos, envelopes, a writing pad and a pen as well.

5) Taqwa!

And last but not least, do not forget what Allah (swt) has said: “And take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best provision is At-Taqwa (piety, righteousness).” (Al-Baqarah 2:197) You are making Hajj for the sake of Allah (swt) and for the forgiveness of your sins. Make sure you make the most of it! Pack in a copy of the Quran and other reading material, such as invocations (Dua) cards and Hajj guides.

Pray to Allah (swt) to make it easy for you, before you embark on this incredible journey. In case you do forget something, Makkah has been hosting pilgrims for over 1400 years and most things will be available. Remember, you are a guest of Allah (swt) and He will take care of you!

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers – Final Part

7 habits

In the previous issue we discussed your personal bank account (PBA) of deeds and how three different types of small deposits can eventually enrich you in the long run. Now we will discuss the remaining three ways of meaningful deposits to build your (PBA). Similarly an opposite action would end up in withdrawal from your (PBA).

PBA Deposits

  • Keep promises made to yourself
  • Initiate little acts of kindness for others
  • Handle yourself gently
  • Be honest with yourself and others
  • Renew yourself
  • Let your talents bloom

PBA Withdrawals

  • Break personal promises
  • Be a loner and keep to yourself
  • Beat yourself up
  • Be dishonest with yourself and others
  • Wear yourself out
  • Neglect your talents

Be honest with yourself and others

Honesty begins with self. When ever we lie or cheat it makes us unsure of ourselves. It casts a heavy shadow on our heart and is an immediate withdrawal from our (PBA). As they say you can’t do wrong and feel right.

Have you been fake or dishonest with your parents, friends or at work? We know that we all have a tendency to impress others even if we have to act phony. Next time be yourself and you will feel a lot more wholesome. It takes strength and courage to be honest with yourself as well as others.

Sean Covey shares a story of a teenager called Jeff. Jeff was smarter in mathematics than his other friends. He came up with an idea to start charging them for every test he helped them cheat on. Initially, he felt great making money and helping his friends get good grades. Later, he realized he hadn’t really been helping them at all. If they didn’t learn now, it would just get tougher down the road for them. So he quit his game and took a brave stand by being honest with himself and his friends. It was hard but it was the right choice, which served everyone’s best interests.

Honesty may not be a trend anymore. You will find people get ahead in life by cheating and lying. But remember – every act of honesty is a deposit into your (PBA) and will build strength eventually, because your heart will be pure.

You may begin by not exaggerating or embellishing your point of views. Or next time when your parents ask you to tell them about something, just factually narrate the complete story without misleading them or deliberately leaving out some information.

Renew yourself

We all think that only medicines and magazine subscriptions expire. Wrong! As human beings, we also sometimes feel low and need a place of refuge to re-energize our mind, body and soul. If we do not learn to relax and renew ourselves occasionally, we tend to lose the zest for life.

How you can do it depends on your daily routine. Some people like to relax by writing in a journal, painting, playing a sport, going to the gym, etc. Some like to retreat to a quiet place for some quiet thinking in their homes, such as in their bedrooms, terrace or the basement. Some like to head outdoors to a favourite spot, such as a park, garden, river-side, etc.

I know a teenager, who used to keep hitting his tennis ball on a particular wall to relieve tension and after half an hour of playing ball, he felt de-stressed and renewed.

Of course, if you can build a habit of listening to a soothing Qirat by one of your favourite Qaris, it works like watering a wilted flower. When done, you’re in full bloom!

So next time you end up in an argument with your parents or friends or are simply worried about something try to slip in to your favourite place of refuge and re-collect your thoughts and emotions. Once you have renewed yourself, you will feel much better, Insha’Allah. And that will work as a deposit in your (PBA)!

Decide on a fun activity and do it today. If you feel lethargic go out for a walk or run.

Let your talents bloom

Allah (swt) has gifted talents to every single human being on this Earth. Even people with certain disorders such as Dyslexia or Autism are greatly gifted and intelligent. The key is to tap into your talents and draw on the best. Try figuring out what pleases you most and what skill you are inspired to polish?

And if you haven’t figured out fantastic ways to make deposits into your (PBA) yet, try to find special interest and then develop it. Nothing is more rewarding. And we don’t need to be stereo-typical and traditional about it. Why just think of being a writer or an athlete? You can be good at anything and carve a niche for yourself.

Talents come in different packages. They are all about self-expression. One can be a great collector of leaves, exhibit leadership skills, be a patient listener to others, write backwards, etc. Don’t ever think that it sounds silly or small. People, who have believed in their ideas and pursued their dreams, are the ones who have ever achieved anything. Most importantly they found joy and an identity for themselves. Stuff they did or made equally benefited others, too.

Make a list of talents you want to develop this year and how to achieve them. Secondly, list the name of people you admire the most for their talents and maybe try finding out how they got there!

Being a Proactive Parent!

Being a Proactive parent

Have you ever felt that you didn’t handle a parenting challenge in the best manner? Or that though you are trying to raise your children correctly, you are frustrated with the results – or lack of them? Being a parent is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. Unfortunately, for this job, there are no degrees, and the baby doesn’t come with an instruction manual! We all try to do our best for our children, but often get caught in a cycle of reactive parenting. A situation comes up and we react, without realizing it’s repercussions in the long run! Taking a moment to step out to look at the long-term picture is a great way to get some perspective and to help head our family in the right direction.

Reactive Parenting!

  1. Nagging, begging, bribing and threats. Most parents are guilty of using one of these reactive methods. They either nag their children, until they do what they’re asked. Some parents bribe their children: “If you go to school without crying, I’ll let you watch TV, when you get home.” Others resort to begging: “Will you do this for me? Please?” And, of course, the empty threats: “If you don’t clean up your room, I’ll throw all your toys away!” Saying such things and then not following through, teaches children not to take their parents seriously. With such methods, we almost force our children to tune us out, a phenomenon known as ‘parent deafness’!
  2. Giving in. Most parents set up rules but cave in, when their children insist. If you say: “No snacking before lunch.” mean it! If you, however, let your child eat a piece of chocolate, you lose all credibility with your child.
  3. Unclear expectations. Be clear about what you want from your children. Instead of asking them to ‘behave’, it might be a good idea to specify, what you mean: “Say Salam, when you go to Ayesha’s house” or “Share your toys, when Muhammad comes over.”
  4. Being inconsistent consistently. Children don’t know what to expect of their moms and dads! At times, they can get away with being super-hyper, while at other times, they are scolded for making noise. Make clear rules and be consistent. Control the situation, rather than let it control you.
  5. Lying. Parents don’t realize the small lies they tell their children. Hiding a toy and saying: “Oh, the birdy took it away,” is lying. Be the person you want your children to be. As Robert Fulghum says: “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.”
  6. Hitting. Some parents resort to hitting their children in a last desperate attempt to discipline them. What parents forget is that the only thing the child will remember from the incident is the hitting itself and not why he was spanked!

Being Proactive!

Being a proactive parent means that you think about what you want for your children in the long run and take every parenting moment that comes to help them towards that goal. Safaa Minhas, who recently conducted a workshop “Parenting: Proactive vs. Reactive” at “Hiba” office suggests the following ways, in which you can respond proactively to your child, Insha’Allah:

  1. Working together. Work together with your child. Make rules and routines. Decide consequences. Let your child decide, how he should be punished, if he misbehaves. Become a team, and you will see a remarkable difference in the child’s cooperation.
  2. Being prepared. The most important thing about proactive parenting is being prepared for every situation. If you know your child gets cranky when visiting friends or relatives, keep some of his favourite toys along. Also, talk to your child beforehand to help his transition to any change or event.
  3. Positive statements. Keep the blame and accusations out of your tone. If your child knocks down and breaks a vase, instead of saying: “See, I told you not to run around,” use such positive statements as: “Why do you think the vase broke?” “Should we run around in the sitting room?” The aim is to make the child realize his mistake, so it doesn’t happen again, not to prove you were right.
  4. Good compromises. Where giving in is a bad idea, sometimes parents do need to compromise. If your child makes a valid point, agree to change the rules.
  5. Show empathy. Understand your children and relate to them. Not acknowledging their feelings leads to frustration and anger in children. For example, if your child exhibits rivalry towards his younger sibling, show empathy. “I know he takes your things, and I know it’s annoying. But it’s only because he loves you and wants to be like you.”
  6. Use your imagination and humour. Parenthood should be a fun and joyful journey! Use your humour to help you deal with some situations, instead of flying off the handle! If your child fusses at bedtime and never gets to bed in time, use your imagination. Make her the mummy and have her put her fussy teddy to bed!
  7. 5-3-1 GO! Parents expect immediate obedience from their children and get angry, when the children don’t drop everything at once. Give children the time to adjust. Shouting: “We’re leaving in five minutes!” and then dragging a screaming child to the car is not a solution. Count your child down. Remind again in three minutes, then one minute and finally make it clear that it’s time to GO!
  8. Ask helpful questions: Try to understand, why your child misbehaves, when he does. Uncover the problem and then make him understand that misbehaving is not the solution.
  9. Saying sorry. Learn to say sorry. Everybody makes mistakes, and when you make a mistake, set an example by apologizing and owning up.
  10. Punishment vs. discipline. “Discipline expresses a parent’s boundaries with the emotional volume turned down,” says Sharon Silver, founder of Proactive Parenting. Chalk out consequences, rather than punishments, to help your child realize his mistake.

Three golden tips for raising our little Mumins in today’s world!

  1. Always think long-term! Instead of reacting impulsively, be proactive – use a situation in your favour by guiding your children to learn a lesson from it.
  2. Don’t give freedoms that you know will eventually have to be taken away. With exposure to TV, the Internet and assimilation of western culture, we need to inculcate the Islamic spirit early on. If you say: “She’s too young right now and it’s okay for her to wear such clothes,” then be prepared for a rough transition.
  3. Last but not least, make Dua for your children! Pray to Allah (swt) to make them leaders of the Muslim Ummah and to help us in our quest of being better parents!

The material presented in this article is based on a parenting workshop facilitated by Safaa Minhas at “Hiba” Magazine’s office.