I want to apologize to my non-Hajji readers. I don’t mean to alienate you with all these posts on Hajj. Insha’Allah your turn will come soon enough and you’ll turn here to find more information.
As for the Hajji’s, thank you for letting me be a part of your Hajj experience. You probably won’t understand now, but next year at this time you will have the strangest feeling. It’s a mix of sadness and joy laced with covetousness . You’ll be so excited for the Hajji’s and your eyes will light up whenever you’re given a chance to discuss your trip but you’ll be sad that others get to visit that which you love, while you can’t. By writing these posts, I feel like I’m vicariously re-living the Hajj experience through you guys.
May Allah SWT accept your Hajj. May He SWT, keep you healthy, happy and safe. May you return a better person. May the ‘Hajj -Effect’ never wear off. This is my last post in the Billion or so Hajj Tips & Tricks series.
I’m a visual learner, so seeing pictures really helps me understand . As I mentioned earlier, when a family friend was kind enough to share her Hajj Book with me, I instantly felt so much more prepared for Hajj. Seeing her pictures helped make those strange words make sense: “Meeqaat”, “Jamarah” , “Rami”.
I was warned by many people to not take my iphone to Hajj with me because it will be stolen. When I got to Hajj everyone had their smartphones and were regularly Whatsapping pictures and videos to their loved ones. At the time I was full of regret- I should have brought my phone! In retrospect however, I think it was a good thing. Being in constant connection with my family and friends might have reduced the connection I felt to my Hajj experience. Or maybe I’m just trying really hard to make myself feel better.
The female guards/police/Muttawa’s are a force to be reckoned with. They are strong and zealously dedicated to their jobs. They will body search you for cameras and smartphones. They will size you up in a millisecond and will speak to you in your language. Don’t mess with them. Just do as they say and no one gets hurt.
The men’s side of the masjid is a whole other story. The brothers were openly videotaping their surroundings as they were taken on a tour! Most of the pictures we have were taken by my husband, there’s no way I could have taken them on the women’s side.
It’s impossible to try and enforce any sort of rules in such a busy place. We openly took pictures here though we had heard stories in the past of guards trying to confiscate cameras.
Hajj tip: let your mehram take pictures in Madinah. Be cautious while taking pictures in Mecca.
I hope my Hajj in pictures will help you better prepare for this journey of a lifetime Insha’Allah 🙂
The over riding theme of every lecture, class and paraphernalia from our group stressed the same point: patience. Hajj really isn’t that hard, it is very important, hence the stress around it, but overall it’s quite simple. Relax, you got this! Just stay healthy, calm and patient.
Stop-Over In Turkey
AFTER we had bought our meal during our stopover in Turkey, we found out that Burger King was giving free meals to our group. All we had to do was show them our boarding pass. Being the desi people that we were, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity for free food- so naturally we had two lunches!
Landing in Madinah
Subhan Allah such a beautiful sight! Masjid Al Nabawi shining bright in the dark desert. Remember to sit on the left side of the airplane if you’re flying directly to Madinah.
Chai at Hajj
Seriously one of the most disappointing parts of my trip was the gross chai.. I know you may have expected me to tell you where to get the best chai and believe me, I searched far and wide,,but nothing tasted good .On the bright side my husband can no longer accuse me of being addicted to chai..I went about three weeks without it!
No one told me how absolutely beautiful Masjid Al Nabawai was! Everywhere you looked, everything was beautifully crafted and meticulously designed. What’s especially fascinating about Madinah is the mix of tradition and technology. After fajr, try and stick around the inside of the Masjid. Pay attention to the ceiling,you’ll get to see the domes discreetly shift to let the sunlight in.
They say the art work of a society depicts their cultural values. As Muslims we believe in Allah (SWT)’s Divine order in all realms of the universe. Likewise, Islamic art is often a series of perfectly balanced geometric shapes,arabesque designs and calligraphy. It reflects our harmonious world view. The subtle state of the art technology is a perfect example of how we maintain our values while advancing with the needs of our current time.
I love the Umbrellas
I really loved the umbrellas in the courtyard of Masjid Al Nabawi. Under every umbrella, at the very top of the column there are fans that spray a cool mist. I must admit, initially I was startled; I thought it was one of those Hajji’s that I was warned about. Allhumdullillah I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t bodily fluid of any sort; just the perfect vapour to cool you down in the heat.
The umbrellas unfolding is a sight to see.
Sight Seeing in Madinah
During our stay in Madinah, our Hajj package included a sight seeing trip. I can’t explain how amazing it is to see the places I read about in Islamic history texts and hadiths!
I didn’t get a chance to climb the Archer’s hill (Mount Uhud) because I twisted my ankle during an incident the night before at Raudah. Don’t worry I healed. But you can still make duah for me .
Raudah is a piece of heaven on earth! Obviously people become overwhelmed at the thought of setting foot in heaven so they trample on anyone in their way. Hajj Tip: Do NOT start praying as soon as you set foot in Raudah (where the green carpet starts), make your way as far from the entrance of Raudah as you can- it is the safest option. Hajj Tip: Go with a buddy so she can protect from getting trampled on you while you pray. Someone sat on my head while I was in sujood; I kept thinking about the irony of dying ‘in heaven’.
Mina is tent city. It is where you will be without any makeup (not even concealer- GASP!), you’ll see your husband completely bald and be in a tent full of women for a few days. These ‘tents’ are not simple structures as you would expect. Our tent had won ‘best tent’ award (I’m sure it was something more eloquent but I can’t remember right now), so I thought it was pretty awesome until I walked past the tents belonging to the Saudi citizens! Their ‘tents’ had marble floors!
It’s easy to engage in back biting and useless talk here because you have so much ‘free’ time. Hajj tip: If you have a game plan such as finishing a certain number of juz of the Quran etc, then you will be fine Insha’Allah.
As I mentioned in previous posts, this is where you will encounter the most poverty.I want you to be prepared. Directly outside of your tents will be families sleeping next to piles of garbage and under trucks.
Hajj tip:after returning from Muzdallifah, you can donate your sleeping bag to these families. A few people from our group decided to donate their extra items after leaving Mina but couldn’t find people to donate to.
Next to Mina is the Jamarah building which is also the route to the train station. Watch your abayas and thawbs! Be careful not to get caught in the escalators. Kind of like boarding a plane, you are expected to show up to the train station a couple hours before your departure.
And we’re off!
The moment we had been waiting for… Hajj. We didn’t take many pictures because we wanted to focus more on worship.We wore our Ihram’s before boarding the bus from Madinah to the al-Sheeshah. We made our first tawaf as soon as we reached Mecca which happened to be fajr time.
Please follow your Hajj group’s instructions, even if you’re doing Hajj for a second time or are feeling very confident now that you have the awesome PDF from my last post. It’s irresponsible and selfish to wander off because the rest of your group will waste precious time trying to find you.
Our Week in Mecca
We went to Mecca after Hajj. It was awesome! Once again, I was impressed by the beauty and attention to detail of the Haaram. Everything was so gorgeous and regal. You’ll see people sleeping in the most random places. Their hotels are usually very far from the Haaram so they spend the entire day there in order to ensure they pray all five prayers in the Haaram!
Since Hajj was over at this point, there wasn’t any real schedule with our Hajj group. We were free to do as we pleased. Many people did extra Ummrahs and tawafs.
What I loved most was our morning schedule. We would head to the Haaram for tahajjud, pray fajr, read Quran/make duas, read salatul duha, eat breakfast and then return to our hotel rooms to sleep. Those were the best mornings of my life: if you add up the amount of good deeds we hopefully accumulated it’s amazing(Tahajjud + Fajr Salaah with Jamaah + salatul duha) X 100,000 + thawab for worshipping from fajr till after sunrise= more good deeds than I could EVER accumulate anywhere else.
We touched the Ka’bah!
This was the view from our hotel window- seriously how were we supposed to sleep??? I just wanted to keep staring at the Kabah without blinking. It is incredible.
I kind of resented that our hotel rooms were so nice..lol! Why tempt us to spend time anywhere but in the Haaram?
We had decided that we weren’t even going to try to touch the Ka’bah. It wasn’t worth risking our lives over or causing discomfort to our fellow Hajji’s. Fun fact: we never actually laid eyes on Hajjar Al Aswad (the black stone), it was always covered by a swarm of people.
One day while we were admiring the Ka’bah from a distance, we mentioned to my husband’s uncle (who happened to be doing Hajj that year from India), that we never got to touch the Ka’bah. He was shocked. He immediately ushered us towards the Ka’bah; a few minutes and lots of ‘rasta! rasta!’ later we were there! I have no idea how he managed to get us there so quickly and without incident, but I am forever grateful that he did. I can’t stress enough that touching the Ka’bah has nothing to do with Hajj and is completely not worth risking your life over. We managed to touch it about a week after Hajj was over and we were guided by our ‘professional Hajji’, Nizam Mamu has been on Hajj twice and for forty days each time.
Saying goodbye was difficult. As you can imagine, if leaving a relatives house is hard, try and perceive leaving the House of Allah SWT!
We had left our 4 year old son back in Canada; I was desperate to see him and the rest of our family but that meant leaving here. Even before we reached the airport we calculated how much money we needed to return as early as possible for Ummrah. Obviously we wouldn’t go on any other vacation; the moment we had enough money we would return.
But then life happened and we got distracted.
Ya’Allah please invite us to your home again.
Lots of love and duas.
For the rest of the Billion Hajj Tips and Trick series:
Part One http://chaiwithsahar.com/a-billion-or-so-hajj-tips-and-tricks/
Part Two http://chaiwithsahar.com/a-billion-or-so-hajj-tips-and-tricks-2/
Part Three http://chaiwithsahar.com/hajj-tips-shaikhs-shopping-and-shifaa/
Part Four http://chaiwithsahar.com/hajj-tips-part-four-two-types-of-people-at-hajj/
Part Five http://chaiwithsahar.com/hajj-tips-step-by-step-hajj-guide/