Haj is the fifth pillar of Islam and is compulsory for all Muslims to perform once in their life if they are physically and financially able to make the journey to Mecca and Madinah.

Umrah is the smaller pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca can be made any time of year. While not compulsory, it is still a highly recommended ritual Muslims are encouraged to perform.

But undertaking the Haj or Umrah is not cheap and is a major financial commitment.

Travel agents say that costs have risen substantially in recent years, and pilgrims can expect to pay anything from $3,000 to $20,000 per individual — even more if you live in a country very far away from Saudi Arabia.

But Islam does not encourage Muslims to borrow money from others to perform pilgrimage — we are encouraged to save and invest for this expense — and only Muslims who are financially able are required to carry it out.

If you are one of the millions of Muslims from around the world who are not able to make the trip this year but are planning to undertake the Haj or Umrah, here are some tips to help you make the trip.

Define your goal clearly.

A realistic goal must be:

1. Achievable: Use your income to determine which Haj or Umrah package you can afford.

2. Specific: “To go on Haj” is not a specific enough goal, but “to have $15,000 in 5 years” is.

3. Measurable: Set a deadline for your goal, specifically the timeline for purchasing a Haj package.

The good news is, there are systematic ways individuals can save for Haj and Umrah.

Takaful Brunei Keluarga (TBK) provides the TBK Haj & Umrah Takaful, a protection and savings plan for Bruneians who wish to perform either Haj or Umrah.

Customers can book an appointment with TBK’s Islamic financial planners by calling the TBK Call Centre at 2231100, or by visiting our website or the TBK head office in Kiulap.