Hajj Hajj Essentials: From sun hats to shoe bags, here’s a guide to what Muslims need to carry on pilgrimage.

Mecca, Saudi Arabia — Straw hats, crossbody bags and folding chairs: These are just some of the essential items that Muslims carry on Hajj pilgrimage.

Spiritually, the five-day Hajj is incredible for believers, an experience they say will bring them closer to God and to the entire Muslim world.

Physically, it’s tiring. Pilgrims walk outdoors for hours in the scorching heat around the holy sites of Mecca and the surrounding desert. They were trapped in an overwhelming and unimaginable crowd, all trying to get to the same place. Traffic navigation barriers mean that if you miss your turn, you may have to walk for hours more to get to where you want to be.

So more than 2 million pilgrims not only learn the complicated rules of how to properly perform the rituals, starting on Monday. They also collect useful hints and trading tricks for a living, learned from other hajjis – such as those who have completed the known pilgrimage.

Here’s a look at what they say is essential equipment.

WHAT TO wear

Wear heat-resistant clothing, as daytime temperatures frequently exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). Much of the ritual takes place outdoors in the desert, including climbing the Mount of Mercy and stoning the Jamarat, a colonnade representing the devil.

Sun hats are key. Pilgrims often opt for wide-brimmed straw hats or even cowboy hats. Colorful umbrellas are everywhere. Some balance prayer mats on their heads or umbrellas.

All men are required to wear a simple white gown with no stitches, a rule intended to unite the rich and the poor. Women had to give up beauty products and hair coverings but had more rights to wear fabrics from their native countries, leading to a colorful expression of Islam’s multiculturalism.

When it comes to footwear, it’s best to wear something durable for long walks but also easy to put on and take off, as pilgrims must remove their shoes before entering Mecca’s Great Mosque.

Slippers are reasonable, but some pilgrims say it’s best to wear socks because the mosque’s marble floors can get surprisingly cold as they walk around the Kaaba seven times.


A backpack of some kind is essential for carrying food, water, sunscreen and other sundries. But backpacks can be a hassle when you’re crammed on your shoulders.

Much more common are crossbody bags that you can grab without turning around.

Many pilgrims also bring their own drawstring bags or shoe bags. Normally at mosques you can leave your shoes to a valet at the entrance, but with the hundreds of thousands at the Grand Mosque, it’s a surefire way to lose your shoes, or best of all. take a long time to get them back. It also means you have to exit the same way you entered, which is not always possible when the crowd takes you in a different direction.

Umaima Hafez, a five-time hajjah from Egypt, packs up like a pro.

Sitting in her portable plastic chair, she reached into her large bag and pulled out a blanket, homemade granola and crackers, and a bath towel that she wet and covered her head while it was hot, an extra-thick prayer mat – for her knees. – and some drugs. The stool also fits into the pocket. She would carry it around the Hajj, then leave it for others to use.

She insists her bag is not heavy. “Everything is beautiful and easy with God. … And people give a lot of water and food here.”

Hassan Hussain, a 24-year-old first-time pilgrim from England, also opted for the maximal approach. His bag contains his phone, charging cable, power bank, sunglasses, water bottle, British and Saudi money, bank cards, shoe bag, prayer mat and facial moisturizer.

He said his sister, who did the Hajj last year, told him what to bring. His advice to other pilgrims is to bring too much luggage.

“You don’t know when you’ll need those,” he said. “The person next to you may need many things. Just take everything and work it out as you move on.

In contrast, Ali Ibn Mousa, a 30-year-old Russian and father of seven, is geared toward maneuverability and speed, so he’s always been light.

His drawstring bag only holds his phone and his Pilgrim ID. He is more concerned with what he will bring back from the Hajj, saying that besides his spiritual journey, he is looking for a second wife.

“If I had a heavy bag, I wouldn’t be able to do some of the things I wanted to do,” he said. “That’s why I bring a small easy-to-carry bag so I can run inside” as I go around Kaaba.


Huge streams of pilgrims travel back and forth between the holy sites stretching more than 10 miles (16 km) from the Grand Mosque to the Mount of Mercy, or Mount Arafat, out in the desert. Even in a single place of worship, it can take much of the day to walk from one end of the day to the other, like Mina, where pilgrims will stay in one of the world’s largest tents and put stone pillars representing the devil.

A pilgrim must be prepared to be stuck in a location outside for centuries, waiting for an incoming traffic or a dispersed crowd, sometimes in the middle of the night.

Ikram Mohammed’s supermarket in Mecca sells camping essentials such as lightweight tents, sleeping mats and collapsible water bags.

“They buy dried fruit and nuts, cookies, chips. Anything they can consume easily on the go without a fridge or utensils,” said Mohammed. A special division specializes in fragrance-free toiletries, in line with the perfume ban.

Mohammed also sells souvenirs for pilgrims to take home, everything from chocolates and sweets to water from the sacred Zamzam well near the Kaaba.

Another popular item: Joint pain relief cream.


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