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Pilgrims Passage - How to perform a healthy Hajj

Pilgrims Passage - How to perform a healthy Hajj

In this season of pilgrimage all eyes turn to the millions making their way towards Makkah. Noreen A. Kassem examines how pilgrims can best prepare to meet the physical demands of the Hajj Rites.


Featured in Issue 51, page 106 to 108: emel magazine

The Hajj journey is a spiritually, mentally and physically demanding voyage of a lifetime; so each pilgrim must make adequate preparations to ensure that their health is in the best possible condition before they set off. Pilgrims exert considerable physical effort during the Hajj: part of the sacred rites involves walking long distances and staying in desert tents, which tests the patience and self-sacrifice of all pilgrims, and their readiness to give up material comfort and convenience for God.

Extraordinary numbers of people gather in one area, so even the simplest tasks and rites can take an excessive amount of time and require a great deal of strength and endurance. The constant crush of hundreds of thousands of other pilgrims, each trying to perform the same rites at the same time in limited spaces and often in very hot weather, compounds the demands on physical conditioning. Many pilgrims return home with varying after-effects from Hajj, from flu-like exhaustion to more severe symptoms.


Hajj Preparations

In order to be prepared for the rigours expected of you, begin to hone your body by walking and exercising regularly to maintain your weight and build muscle for strength and endurance. Start with 20 to 30 minutes a day, gradually increasing this regimen to an hour every day or every other day. If you are overweight, make positive changes in your diet to ensure that your metabolism is performing at an optimum.

Talk to your GP and carry out a carefully planned, consistent regime. Detoxing with liquids, healthy foods and fibres will also cleanse and refresh your body. A great way to detox is by only drinking fresh juices or eating only raw fruit and vegetables for an entire day, at least every month. It is important to keep a check on your cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Any indication of disease and illness must be dealt with before you leave to avoid complications during your travels. Individuals with diabetes and other chronic diseases must be vigilant in maintaining their health. Be sure to inform your GP that you are planning to go for Hajj and seek advice on diet and medications.

If you are insulin dependent, be sure to carry insulin in your hand luggage and take adequate supplies for your stay. Additionally make sure that you are travelling with someone familiar with your medical condition at all times. Those with asthma, severe food allergies and other critical ailments must carry the necessary medications with them at all times during their pilgrimage. A medical bracelet that notifies others of what to do in case of an emergency is a good idea in the event that you are separated from your family or group.


General Health Guidance

Be prepared for harsh climates in the Arabian Peninsula where temperatures can soar even in winter.

• Heat exhaustion

Water depletion and loss of salts in the body occurs through excessive sweating. Make sure you rest, keep cool and replace fluids and salt.

• Heat stroke

This occurs when body temperature rises above 41°C. Avoid being in the sun for long periods of time, and carry water and a wet towel to cool down.

• Feet first

Wear light comfortable footwear for the long distances and rough terrain. Inside the mosque, use socks made from breathable natural materials such as cotton with a non-slip rubber sole to protect your feet.

Handy Hajj Tips

o Boost your Immune System 

Supplement your diet with multi-vitamins. Echinacea is particularly recommended.

o Keep Hydrated 

Drink plenty of bottled water or of course Zam-Zam water.

o Get the Protein 

Protein shakes are nutritious and serve to replenish body salts and chemicals lost through perspiration.

o Soothe It 

In case of a cough developing lozenges or drops may be necessary to soothe the throat.

o Stay Moisturised 

The desert climate can dry out the skin. Keep skin moisturised and use clear lip balm to prevent chapped lips.

o Keep Energy Levels High 

Take granola bars, high energy protein bars, and dates. Peelable fruit and packaged food are recommended to minimise exposure to infection from unsanitary handling.


To fortify your body against disease, arrangements for vaccinations need to be made at least three weeks prior to your departure.

• Meningitis: All pilgrims need the ‘quadrivalent’ meningococcal vaccine which protects against all four strains of meningitis. Entry to Saudi Arabia is not given without this vaccination.
• Vaccinations against Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B are recommended, particularly for males having their heads shaved. It is best to buy your own razors which you shoul not share.
• Flu jab: Respiratory infections are common during and after the pilgrimage. Particularly as the Hajj falls during the winter season at the moment, there is high risk of viral respiratory tract infections especially influenza.
• Malaria tablets: These are usually taken for four weeks while abroad and four weeks after travel. Other ways of avoiding malaria include using mosquito repellents or sleeping under mosquito nettings.


IMPORTANT: Symptoms of infectious disease may not occur until after your return home. See a doctor at once if you suffer from fever, rash, jaundice, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting or foot/leg ulcers.


A pilgrim’s tick list

o Panadol for pain
o Camomile tea as a sleep-aid
o Arnica for muscular pain
o Immodium for diarrhoea
o Dry ginger for nausea
o Plasters, anti-bacterial cream for cuts
o Wet-wipes for convenience


< Return to Hajj Special home page

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1 Comment



21 Nov 09, 00:19

As Salaam Alaikum Sister Dr. Noreen, I met you a few years ago and it would be very nice to see you again. I enjoy all your educational articles. Thank you and may Allah reward you.
All of you at Emel magazine are doing great work. May Allah increase you.

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