Table of Contents
The Hajj | Al Hajj | Saudi Arabia
Hajj is the once-in-a-lifetime-obligatory pilgrimage of Muslims to Makkah, Saudi Arabia during Dhul Hijjah.
Hajj, the Fifth Pillar of Islam, is absolutely required on all capable Muslims. Umrah, when performed independent of Hajj, is the optional lesser pilgrimage and may be accomplished anytime during the year.
General Advice and Tips For Hajj
- Carry business cards of the hotels you stay in Makka and Madina. If you are lost, you can call them or somebody can direct you better.
- Be flexible. Especially for transportation. You may have paid for an air conditioned bus but the one assigned to you during Hajj may not be air conditioned. If possible, proceed on the vehicles that are available. Completion of the “arka’an” in a timely manner is more important than petty issues.
- Traffic gridlocks get very severe during Hajj. At times, traffic hardly moves and it is quicker to go by foot. From my personal experience, it took us 4 hours to get from Arafat to Muzdalifa. The distance is less then 10 miles.
- Be prepared to walk a lot thus carry several pairs of comfortable slippers. Most modern sandals and shoes are NOT permissible during Ihram.
- There are good chances that you will get lost. In particular, during the six days of Hajj the entire area of Makka, Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa gets very confusing. It is like a sea of humanity. Most people dressed in Ihram, there are tents all over the place. Some Hujjaj get disoriented and lose their way.
- If you get lost, there are “Pilgrim Assistance Booths” set up all over and they are chartered to help Hujjaj find their hotels, tents, Jamarat, Masajids, etc.
- For a group of people, it is advisable to agree on “well known” locations to gather in case somebody gets lost.
- Designate a set place to meet (in case somebody from your group gets lost) outside Haram in Makka. Select a noticeable landmark, eg. Baab Abdul Aziz Gate.
- Designate a set place to meet in Mina, Arafat, & Muzdalifa. The landmark should be well known and accessible. Many people get lost in the huge crowds.
- Designate a set place to meet outside Masjid in Madina. Select a noticeable landmark
- To avoid spending time in vain SEARCHING for various things that you need during Hajj, consider taking most of them with you from home. During Hajj there are long lines at almost all stores.
- You should plan to do your shopping for Islamic souvenirs AFTER Hajj since prices are lower in Makkah and Madinah then. Suggested souvenir list.
- Though there will be many doctors and physicians who will have an adequate command of English, you may find yourself in the position of “triage assessment”. What is triage? When demand is very high (as in Hajj) medical resources are prioritized based upon patient symptoms and signs; a non-doctor or non-physician, who is less likely to speak English, usually undertakes this. It is critical at this juncture for quick and accurate translation of your symptoms is required.
- If you are young and strong you should actively look out for those older or weaker than yourself and help them wherever possible.
- Treat others as you would wish them to treat yourself, your parents and children. Most importantly remember the words of the Prophet who has said that we should not be angry.
- It is better if you pray in the front rows in the “Harma’in Shareef”.
- Get to the “Haram Shareef” early for each prayer if you want to pray inside in the Haram Shareef or close to “Ka’ba Shareef”, or near Prophet Muhammad’s “Rauza-i-Aqdas” (tomb) in Madina.
- Before a prayer, it takes about an hour to enter the Harma’in Shareef and find a spot. On “Juma’a” it takes even longer to enter the Harma’in Shareef.
- You should not block doors and entrances of the Holy Haram by praying at them, even if you were trying to attain the reward of congregation prayer.
- As a prayer time approaches, Hujjaj start sitting down for prayer in the front rows. In Makka, although, others may still be performing Tawaf, the front rows start getting full. It gets harder to find spots to pray. Similarly it gets harder to make Tawaf when people start sitting down.
- Do not hinder Tawaf of other by sitting or performing prayer around or near Kaaba, by standing near the Black Stone or the “Maquamu Ibraheem” when it is crowded since these overcrowding harms others.
- Subhan-u-Allah, during Hajj, the Haram Shareef is alive with activity all night. People perform Tawaf and Saiy all night.
- Do NOT push and harm other Hujjaj to reach “Al-Hajarul Aswad”. If it is The Will of Allah SWT, you will be able to reach it without committing harm to others. The ONLY reason to kiss the black-stone is that our beloved Prophet Muhammad kissed it. It is MERELY a stone but from Paradise. It has NO powers or mysticism.
- It is “waajib” to make “salaat” near “Maquamu Ibraheem” after Tawaf. However, because of the huge crowds still making Tawaf, you could get seriously injured, especially during “sujuud” (prostration). You might request other Hujjaj to divert people so you can complete salaat or make salaat a little distance away. Where there may be fewer people in Tawaf.
- In Madina, “Masjid-An-Nabawi” closes down, for general public, shortly after “Isha’a salaat” and reopens before “Tahajjud” prayers.
- Within Masjid-An-Nabawi there is an area “Rauzatul Janna”, Garden of Paradise, marked with green or white carpeting. There are “Ustuwana” or “Sutun” (columns) that are also special. Layout of the special areas inside the Masjid-An-Nabawi.
- Consult your Hajj book for their importance. You need to get there early to be able to pray “Fardh”, “Sunnah” or “Nafl” prayers.
- To clarify, each and every space and corner of Masjid-An-Nabawi is full of blessings and benedictions. Similarly every corner of the Haram in Makka is “afzal” (a blessing).
- The “women-only” prayer areas are in the Eastern section away from the “Qibla” at Masjid-An-Nabawi in Madina.
- Women hujjaj have special times to visit Prophet Muhammad’s tomb in Masjid-An-Nabawi. Women should take advantage of those “women-only” times.
- You are NOT allowed to carry boxes, grocery bags, shopping bags and backbacks in to the Haramain. Sometimes even “musallas” and water bottles are not allowed. It is better that you do not take them with you to the masjids.
- During Hajj and Umrah seasons, if any item is left unattended, even for a short time, in Madina, Makka, Mina, Arafat, Muzdalifa, etc. the item is generally removed. It will be lost. Thus keep your belongings, especially Al Quran, other books, ID cards, money, “Musalla”, purses/wallets, slippers always with yourself or with somebody for safe keeping.
- “Women should AVOID going to public toilets. Women have been attacked in public toilets, elevators or even shops.
- Be careful with your money and in dealing with people. There are reports of pickpockets.
- Sad but true: even during Hajj people are trying to “scam” the Hujjaj with very heart jerking stories. Some of them totally false. May Allah SWT have Mercy on us.
- In addition, there is significant amount of theft and pick-pocketing (even while performing Tawaf and Saiy). In general, use commonsense with regards to your personal safety and property.
- Be preparted for being “searched” by security police when entering the Harmain sharif. Female guards search “Hajja” and Male guards search “Haaji”.
- AVOID ANY arguments with the Saudi police and officials. May Allah SWT forgive them and us, but some of them are arrogant, ruthless and offensive.
- It is ironic that the booths for Haaji complaints and assistance are usually staffed mostly by Arabic-only speaking officials.
Practical Tips For the Six Days of Hajj
- Keep the cards which are given to you by the Mutawwif as permits for the camp at Mina with you (useful for directions).
- Bring from home: “halal” high energy dry foods: yoghurt bars, chocolate bars, nutrious cookies/crackers etc. (This suggestion sent in by a visitor to our site.)
- Drink lots of water and juice. Carry some bottled water at all times. AVOID carbonated drinks and solid foods during the Six Days of Hajj. “Laban” (yoghurt), milk, and fruit juices provide vital nutrients.
- It is hard to find clean toilets. There are long queues of Hujjaj waiting.
- During Hajj, always be prepared to leave earlier than planned. For example, if your Mutawwif asks you to be ready by 6 am for going to Mina, be ready earlier. In case, the buses arrive sooner, you can leave sooner. The buses could be early or late, it is all very erratic.
- Do NOT be late. No one will wait for you. Hujjaj need to complete the “arka’n” in time and need to proceed as soon as possible.
- During the six days of Hajj, make sure that you are in the correct area for each ritual. There are massive pillars that mark the boundaries of Makka, Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa. The areas are NOT regular geometrically.
- Because of all the traffic and people, one tends to get confused and may not realize that they are not in the correct locality.
- Do NOT rely on the bus drivers for directions. Most of them are from Egypt, Tunisia, and Nigeria and do NOT know the area well enough.
- Be READY and WILLING TO WALK between the localities so you can be present at the correct locations at the required times if transportation is unavailable, due to traffic gridlocks or accidents. Even if transportation is available it easier to walk and get to the next location quickly.
Makka to Mina: 5 miles (8 KM)
Makka to Arafat: 14 miles (22.4 KM)
Mina to Arafat: 9 miles (14.4 KM)
Mina to Muzdalifa: 1.8 miles (3 KM)