Hajj

Chanting “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik” (Here I am Oh Lord), I joined a gathering of over two million people clad in white garments. This was a congregation of Hajj 2007, I attended with my wife. Every able-bodied adult Muslim, having means to bear the cost, must perform Hajj once in his/her lifetime. It involves pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia at a certain time each year.

We boarded a plane on 21st Nov 07, from Karachi, Pakistan for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The plane landed after 4 hours, covering an aerial distance of 2,050 km. Hajj was 27 days away. For logistic reasons, the pilgrims were being brought in much earlier. A steady stream of aircraft from all over the world was outpouring thousands of devotees in a tent-shaped terminal said to be largest in the world. I was holding hand of my wife all the time. If she got lost, it would be a miracle to find her.

Ihram

Before boarding the plane, I had taken a bath, wrapped a seamless white cotton sheet around my waist and secured it with a belt. I donned another similar sheet over my back and the left shoulder keeping the right shoulder uncovered. Wearing a pair of rubber slippers, I was in proper attire called “Ihram”, a must for anyone proceeding to Saudi Arabia for religious reasons. Ladies were exempted but were expected to wear long robes and head scarves.

photo credit http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2192/2251719319_d4cab0ddd4.jpg
photo credit http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2192/2251719319_d4cab0ddd4.jpg

Jeddah - Mecca Expressway

After custom and immigration formalities, everyone was given (i) coupons for internal travel, (ii) a rubber bracelet with identification marks and (iii) a hajj security badge. This took a long time, about six hours before we could board a bus. Because of traffic congestions, the bus moved slowly on the 80 km expressway along a mountain chain with peaks rising up to 3,000 meters. There were many stoppages because of security-checks as no non-Muslim could enter the Holy City of Mecca. However, we did not feel any boredom as on each stop, a stream of canned juices, biscuits and crackers flowed in as a matter of hospitality. At long last, we reached Mecca at about midnight and got a double in a hotel “Ufukal Fateh”, hardly 700 meters away from the Grand Mosque, the holiest site of Islam. Soon we were snorting to mark the end of phase one of the holy journey.

Next morning, I got up and looked around. The room had TV, telephone, air-conditioning, attached bath, refrigerator and power outlets. I went out to market and brought a tiny electric tea-kettle and a hot-plate costing hardly three dollars each, viva la China! There were scores of shops and restaurants around our hotel and finding foods was no problem.

First gathering at the Grand Mosque

At 11:30, we all gathered in the Grand Mosque. Our leader explained to us three types of Hajj of which we selected Tamattu. Since we were already in Ihram, we would now perform Umrah and dispense with Ihram. On the day of commencement of Hajj, we would put on our Ihram again and carry out all of its requirements.

Kaaba

Circumambulating Islam's holiest site. http://www.flickr.com/photos/omarsc/2583246971/
Circumambulating Islam's holiest site. http://www.flickr.com/photos/omarsc/2583246971/

First Umrah

Since we had come early in the Hajj season, there was not much rush in the Grand Mosque. We were required to perform Tawaaf which involves circumambulating seven times around Kaabah, a tall structure made up of granite with height of 13.1 meters, length of 12 meters and width of 11 meters. It was covered with a black silk and gold curtain which is changed each year. In its south-east corner is the famous Black Stone about 1.5 meters high from the ground. Every devotee salutes this stone with the right hand while passing by and it is a great honor to kiss it, if it is feasible in very early season.

We were lucky as we were very near the Kaabah and we just walked in a 90-meter circumference. It hardly took us 30 minutes to complete the seven rounds with recitation of prayers and supplication. There was no gender segregation and we moved together holding each other hands.

Safa & Marwa

After performing Tawaaf, we moved towards two hillocks known as Safa and Marwa. These were at short distance within the boundaries of the Grand Mosque. These were located in a long gallery with three levels and the ritual of ‘running between the two hills’ can be performed at any level. Since it was early in the season, we found enough space in the ground floor.

The distance between Safa and Marwa is approximately 450 meters, so that seven trips amount to roughly 3.15 kilometers which we covered in about 55 minutes. We were quite relaxed having no hurry or tension anytime and completed the ritual smoothly and quite peacefully.

Afterwards, we got out of the mosque and looked for a barber. Soon many approached us yelling 10 Riyal, 8 Riyal. With some patience we caught hold of one charging only five riyals roughly one dollar. He shaved my head making me look like Yul Brynner. As for my wife, she cut off a symbolic hair lock by borrowing a small scissors from other ladies.

Thereafter, we went to our hotel, dispensed with ihram, changed into everyday clothing and jumped on the bed to have a sound sleep.

Mecca street scene   www.traveljournals.net/pictures/153259.html
Mecca street scene www.traveljournals.net/pictures/153259.html

Staying at Mecca

Since Hajj was 26 days away, we spend the time in praying five times in the mosque, strolling in the streets and quite often observing other believers in their prayers. Many were squatting on the Kaabah floor in extreme humility, their imploring hand raised up in passionate prayer, their tears tricking from their numbed eyes. Many a times, we went to the Holy Well, Zam Zam, to sip sweetest water in the world. Also we had the pleasure to watch tiny birds and pigeons flying gracefully over the mosque.

Quite often, we went to downtown commercial plazas for window-shopping but postponed emptying our pockets till the fag end.

Expressway   http://img2.photographersdirect.com/img/95/wm/pd42941.jpgy
Expressway http://img2.photographersdirect.com/img/95/wm/pd42941.jpgy

Departure to Medina

On 12th day, the 2nd of Dec 07, we left for Medina, 447 km away by bus. The journey was smooth with a 4-lane expressway with a lot of tunnels, flyovers and underpasses. There were hills, deserts, oasis, towns, mosques, civic amenity centres, food stalls, teashops and barren land along the road. It took us about seven hours to reach the second holy city of Islam, Medina. The city is 625 meters above sea level amidst fertile oasis bounded by hills, the highest, Mount Uhud, rising 2,000 meters.

We were lodged in a hotel. However, no private rooms were available and 4-6 persons were accommodated in one room, ladies and gents separately. This was unexpected and we were refunded the premium paid for a private rooms. Sharing with me were Aqueel, Sarwar, Haq and our wives were in the next room. We developed a deep friendship and moved together for prayers, eating in restaurants, shopping and sight-seeing.

Masjid-e-Nabi

photo credit:http://www.ahlan.org/md2.htm
photo credit:http://www.ahlan.org/md2.htm
street of Medina
street of Medina

Masjid-e-Nabvi

A visit to Medina is not part of Hajj but every adherent visits it to pray at the grave of great prophet, Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) in Masjid-e-Nabvi, the second holiest mosque in Islam. The mosque has a unique construction with domes, sliding roofs, big umbrellas and artistic ceiling. It is pleasantly cool inside as a tunnel connects it with an air-conditioning plant about eight km away. Outside, there is a marbled area with underground rest-rooms separately for gents and ladies. The mosque is flanked by innumerable shops, fast-food restaurants and teashops.

We stayed at Medina for 8 days. It was the loveliest destination on the earth. As in Mecca, we prayed regularly five times days in the mosque. Unlike Mecca, the ladies had a separate enclosure for prayer. Thanks to mobile phone, my wife used to give me a call whenever she came out of the prayer hall and asked me to fetch her.

It was much cooler in Medina. We enjoyed the cool breeze and whirling of birds in the air. We loitered about in the streets of Medina. There was hardly any sign of old city. It is said that the mosque has covered the entire old Medina Town and the expansion was still going on.

Our stay was very near to the mosque. We always enjoyed the melodious calls to the prayer. Our eight days stay was a unique pleasure, a real exhilarating tonic.

Return to Mecca

On return from Medina, we again put on Ihram but first went to a guest house at Kudi, a suburban area of Mecca about 3 km away. After taking some rest, we came to Mecca and performed the Umrah and returned to the guesthouse. After two days stay we move to Mina, the tent city. The Hajj was still two days away.  Next phase as per Haj-II

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Comments 44 comments

donna 6 years ago

Thank you for a glimpse of this very important facet of your religion.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Donna. You always have good words for me. God bless you.


Rufi Shahzada profile image

Rufi Shahzada 6 years ago from Karachi

Dear Sir,

Thanks for such a nice HUB, I have been to KSA last year for UMRAH, When I went to ZIARAT for ARAFAT I saw a huge structure of Thousands of Permanent Air conditioned Tents.

I want to ask whether in 2007 these tents were permanent or not? Though I was so impressed with such a mighty structure and how Saudi Government manage huge number of people that are increasing every year...

P.S. My experience in JEDDAH Airport was pathetic...

Well I am enthusiastic for your next Hub!

RUFI SHAHZADA


Syed Taha Ghayas 6 years ago

Dear Sir:

I pray to Allah that He accepts your Hajj as Hajj-e-Mabroor, and bless you in dunya and aakhirah!


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Rufi. I would cover tent city in my next hub. Yes, the tent installed are now a permanent fixture. These are fire-proof and air-cooled with power outlets for charging mobile or heating up meals.


Mateen Khalid 6 years ago

As Always, it is great to read all this.

May God Bless You Sir..

Mateen


Rufi Shahzada profile image

Rufi Shahzada 6 years ago from Karachi

You Welcome Sir. I would be waiting for that HUB...

Your work for this HUB is simply MARVELOUS!

RUFI SHAHZADA


kamran hashmat 6 years ago

great sir.its like imagine your self as you are performing hajj.i pray from God that we all got chance to perform hajj.


Syed Mairaj Ahmad profile image

Syed Mairaj Ahmad 6 years ago

Another remarkable article !!

Informative and descriptive, the whole article was interesting to read.

Waiting for the next part of the article...


Fahad_Khan profile image

Fahad_Khan 6 years ago from Karachi

MASHALLAH! May GOD grants us this opportunity too. Reading your hub brought many memories of my UMRAH trip.


Fahad_Khan profile image

Fahad_Khan 6 years ago from Karachi

I went there in 2006 for UMRAH. While doing the Ziarat of many holy places, I observed that the "RAMI-JAMRAAT" (used for "stoning of the devil ritual") bridge was under construction. I believe it must've been under construction during your visit too.

Please cover the 5 days of HAJJ in your next hub as I haven't come across any write-up as comprehensive and as eloquent as your's regarding HAJJ. I'd like to know more about the tent city and Arafat.

P.S. (i)The neem trees at Arafat were planted on suggestion of Gen. Zia-Ul-Haq

(ii) Like Rufi, I also had a terrible experience at Jeddah airport. Even some of Pakistan's local airports are better than Jeddah's...but me and Rufi landed on a different terminal of King Abdulaziz International Airport). For Hajj, KSA has a fully-devoted terminal (the umbrella one). The northern terminal receives flights from Pakistan and due to our reputation (no comments on it), our countrymen are dealt accordingly.

(iii) In MAKKAH and MEDINAH, most of the shops play a nasheed/naat (religious poem), "Ya Tayba". Upon return to pakistan, I downloaded it and often listen to it now to recall experience of a lifetime at the holy land.


michael schmidt 6 years ago

I enjoyed this story and am looking forward to reading the rest of it. I had had no idea that the entire operation occurred on such a grand scale! It must be a very difficult task for the government, hotel operaters, transportation directors, etc. of Saudi Arabia to hold such a great event. And I can imagine that it must be a very moving experience to share ones faith with so very many people in such a vivid way. No doubt Hafeez and his dear wife will always treasure these memories!!


Fahad_Khan profile image

Fahad_Khan 6 years ago from Karachi

Dear Michael Schmidt,

I was listening to Saudi Minister of Hajj's interview the other day. According to him, organizing Hajj is like having 20 superbowls in one stadium :)


Haris saleem 6 years ago

MASHALLAH sir . may GOD provide you this opportunity again and to all muslims as well in their life :) AMEEN


maria javed 6 years ago

its really a wonderful article & the way u expressed urs experince is tremendously superb i am willing like to visit there...

sir u r all rounder u have a knowledge on all the things

& the way u write your tales is really amazing & really i enjoy a lot your tales because its in very suitable language & hold interest to read further.

sir do post your articles as soon as possible. because now we are little bit free of exams & willing to learn a lot from your experiences


Irfan Ullah 6 years ago

May Allah grant acceptance to your endeavor…

Nicely narrated, however I look forward to read your further account of pilgrimage as the Hajj in reality starts from Mina, where you have paused for this time.

Was it your first Hajj. I was there too, with my parents in year 2007. We reached Makkah after 10Dec09 and left for Medina during first week of Jan'08. In Haram (Makkah) we mostly spent our time along the alley aligning the house of Allahaa’s Black Stone corner and starting point of Safa Marwa.

From my Mina-Arafat-Muzdalfa-Mina road experience by bus during Hajj days, I would strongly recommend to use Mishaa (pedestrian track)if one could and I am sure you will not repent your decision, (keeping other things constant) as I recently heard that they metro (speed train project) is already underway in order to establish quick & comfortable communication link between these icons of Hajj.


Sana Rao 6 years ago

Dear Sir

I went there in 2006 and it was nice and unforgetable moment to be a part of haj and umrah.The feelings are never to share how great u feel and when u see KHAN-E-KABAH..itz amazing,the street of Madina that you walk away on the street of our beloved HOLY PROPHET(PBUH)was an unforgetable experience.May God gives a chance to every muslim to perform haj and umrah.Thanx for sharing your moments with us it refresh mi memories.


shahnawaz sheikh profile image

shahnawaz sheikh 6 years ago from karachi

SUBHANALLAH ,

sir thank you for sharing your experience , INSHALLAH if ALLAH permits me and my family will also feel the touch of the sacred grounds next year , Thankyou again sir , GODSPEED and GOD BLESS


Syed Kabeer Ehsan profile image

Syed Kabeer Ehsan 6 years ago

Respected Teacher,

You are very lucky person that, u performed hajj.. .

i never been to KSA, but i wish Allah also calls me for Hajj and Umrah.. .

May Allah, Bless you wid loadz of barkatain and Naimatain, Ameen.. .


mashood_khan profile image

mashood_khan 6 years ago

Dear Mr.Hafeez:

MASHALLAH! I went last time KSA for performing UMRAH in 2005 and prayed to perform Hajj soon. After Reading your this knowledgeable article my Iman has refreshed and wishing to be there very soon. Please pray for me to perform Hajj very Soon.


myroslimh profile image

myroslimh 6 years ago from Subang Jaya, Malaysia

Subhanallah. Nicely done hub. May Allah reward all of us, insyaAllah.


Masroor Ahmad Subhani 6 years ago

Good effort,it is making me remind the whole journey for "HAJJ"2007.I m recalling the time when i Ist met u in the lobby of ufak ul fateh.u have done a great exercise by compiling that journey.pl also add remnaining part of the journey i.e Mina,Arafat,Muzdalfa.God bless u.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan Author

@masroor

Already written. Please go to the hajII


Masroor Ahmad Subhani 6 years ago

Great coverage of whole journey.I went through the remaining part of the journey just now.Mr.Hafeez u r just a marvelous writer.U have learned it through ur hihg academics and experience of roaming through the world.I must learn from u.God bless u with more devotion.Pl send me some other writing.


liveforjesus profile image

liveforjesus 6 years ago

I promise to give each other hubs about relation with our God. but am sorry for the small faults which I make in English, if it is French it is ok for me; but it is the rules of the games. Thanks a lot.I invite you to join my fan's Club


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan Author

@liveforjesus, Engish is my mother tongue either but Urdu. I is OK, please feel free to make any comments. I have already become your fan.


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 6 years ago

I think it must be a wonderful feeling to be in Mecca performing the Hajj with so many people from all over the world. I have seen the prayers said from the Mosque in Mecca on tv when I used to have a satellite dish and could get programmes from Arabia. It is a very moving thing to experience.


M. Sharif Shafique 6 years ago

Dear Hafeez Malik:

Haj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Every Muslim is required to perform this sacred duty when he is able and can afford the ritual as per tenants of Islam.

Your narration of the petformance of rituals of Haj can be classified the best in every respect. yOUR description is sole searching and thought provoking. The reading enhances one's inner virtue. God may bless you and embibe you to write more such sole searching narrations. Photographs of the sacred places increases the worth of the Article.


Adn@n @hm3d profile image

Adn@n @hm3d 6 years ago from Karachi,Pakistan

SUBHANALLAH ,

sir thank you for sharing your experience...sir my brother perform Umrah last year 2nd time , INSHALLAH if ALLAH permits me and my family will also feel the touch of the sacred grounds next year , Thankyou again sir , GODSPEED and GOD BLESS


FlyHajj Team 6 years ago

Wonderful depiction!

FlyHajj Team

http://www.flyhajj.com


Freya Cesare profile image

Freya Cesare 6 years ago from Borneo Island, Indonesia

Ah. I am waiting for my turn, insha Allah, if Allah give me rizqi and chance to do it. :)


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan Author

Keep on praying, one day Allah will listen.


hajj packages 5 years ago

i liked your site...........


hajj packages 5 years ago

sir thank you for sharing your experience , INSHALLAH if ALLAH permits me and my family will also feel the touch of the sacred grounds next year , Thankyou again sir , GODSPEED and GOD BLESS


latest sms jokes 5 years ago

Cool! Great!


seo lahore 5 years ago

Itulaa.. aku sedang menunggu cerita ko pulak Megat.. jangan tunggu lagi..


Hajj Packages Team 5 years ago

Dear Sir Hafeez!

Our team congratulate you for your great work and prays for your good health and happiness. Keep good work going.

Thanks Again

http://hajjpackages.org.uk team


don 5 years ago

I have tried to follow this tutorial with no success. Your first example code is html but your downloaded code does not include an html document. I tried to take the downloaded code and run it on my web server and it does not present the pages. You get the enter you name box but nothing happens when you do. Also you see some of the code. I guess my question would be is the download code suppose to work. I have PHP and JQuery on my server, then at last i found this How To Blogging


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

As a non-Muslim I found this hub very interesting and informative. Though I have read about Hajj in the past I loved your personal experience in this article. I do know about Hajj because every year the government in my country sponsors the pilgrimage. It feels so wonderful to watch the sea of humans during the Hajj. I love to watch this in the TV. Thanks for suggesting me this article.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Vinaya Ghimire for your comments.


Taalib Pugh1 profile image

Taalib Pugh1 4 years ago from Wilkes Barre Pa

As salaamu alaikum ahki may ALLAAH except your Hajj ameen. I enjoyed this article it was very informative. Insha'ALLAAH I myself are looking forward to making my Hajj in the very near future. May ALLAAH grant me and all who have not yet gone. MAy He grant for those who have gone including yourself, grant the blessing that come after making it ameen.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Taalib Pug1 for your comments.


Hafiz 3 years ago

Please note Neem tree was supplied and planted in Arafat by Bangladeshis as per suggestion and good will by Bangladesh president Gerenaral Ziau Rahman.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 3 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Hafiz for pointing it. I would look into past literature and would make corrections, if any.

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