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Friday, November 27, 2009

Hajj 2009 - A Unique And Humbling Experience

HAJJ: A Unique And
Humbling Experience

Madinah is a picturesque city where the buildings
reflect both modern and classic Arabic architecture

PART ONE OF A TWO PART SPECIAL REPORT BY RAMZAN SHEIKH

Coastweek -- Labayk Allahuma labayk.

Labayk la shareeka laka labayk.

Innal hamda wannimata laka wal mulk.

La shareeka lak.

Here I am at your service, oh Lord, Here I am.

Here I am. No partner do you have. Here I am.

Truly, the praise and the favor are yours, and the dominion.

No partner do you have.

Hajj is a sojourn that every Muslim wishes to make at least once during his lifetime.

Some are lucky and achieve this mission early in life.

The decision to go for Hajj was indeed a dream come true for my wife, Hafiza, who had for the last few years trying to persuade me to take her to this spiritual journey.

Many friends have been to Hajj and they had described to me their experience.

The description varied, but most of them expressed dissatisfaction with the Hajj agencies.

They were cramped in a normal size room with 8-10 people with one toilet and they had to walk long distances on hills to reach the Haram (Sacred Mosque) during their stay in Makkah.

I had no desire to suffer in the hands of such agencies.

I therefore, asked my son Shaahid Sheikh to make some enquiries, in search of a reliable, reputable and experienced Hajj agency.

His search revealed that Saudi government has improved substantially the facilities and also action is taken against those lacking in providing promised services, if complaints are registered with the appropriate Saudi authorities.

After substantial research Shaahid selected a Hajj operator from South Africa with good reputation and the choice of quality hotels and excellent locations.

One evening during an informal get together at Shahid Butt's residence, the topic of Hajj crept up and my son gave a detailed description of his findings.

Shahid Butt immediately confirmed to join us with his wife.

The packages were selected and arrangements finalized with the agents who were totally responsible for our entire trip from the time we landed in Medina and departed from Jeddah.

On our arrival at the Madinah Airport , we were a bit disappointed to find that no one from the group was present to receive us.

After a long wait and few telephone calls, he finally turned up.

When we expressed our annoyance at his irresponsibility, he was impolite, unapologetic and arrogant.

However, exhausted, we were happy to be ushered to Hotel Moven Pic, located opposite Al Masjid an Nabwi, the Prophet's Mosque, and were provided with excellent rooms facing the mosque.

At the news of the airport mishap, Mr. Hassan Panday, a very pleasant young man, a director of the tour group, accompanied by his father Imam Yusuf Panday extremely polite gentleman came to see us at the hotel and apologized for the inconvenience and unpleasant behaviour of his representative.

However, he assured us he will personally see that we perform Hajj comfortably and without any further inconvenience.

He also arranged for us to be together with a select group of 16 people and assigned a religious guide to assist us with all Hajj rituals.

MADINAH

Madinah is a picturesque city where the buildings reflect both modern and classic Arabic architecture.

We prayed in the magnificent Mosque of the Holy Prophet Muhammed (SAW) and visited his tomb and of his companions Abubakr Siddique and Omar Farook.

We were taken to Janat-ul-Baqee where there are unmarked graves of the Prophet's family and successors.

We were shown the mountain that has a cave where Prophet Muhammed (SAW) retreated for inspiration and where the Quran was revealed to him.

It was at the foot of this mountain, Shuhda Uhad, where many of the battles took place between the early followers of Islam and the Prophet's tribe who opposed him.

It was a privilege to pray in Qubaa Masjid, Islam's first mosque.

After seven days stay in Madina, we set off to Makkah dressed up in white unstitched pieces of white cloth called Ihram.

Ihram is the symbol of purity and discarding of evil and first step of performing Umrah or Hajj or both.

It also indicates the equality of all people, rich or poor, black or white, in the eyes of Allah (SWT).

Our tour operator arranged GMC cars for our group to take us from Madina to Makkah.

MAKKAH

When we reached Makkah, we checked in at the Elaf Ajyad Hotel, located close to the Haram.

As we arrived at the Kaaba, we saw an amazing sight.

The volume of people doing the Tawaf is beyond imagination.

We thought by night time the numbers will be smaller, but it does not seem so.

We joined the Tawaf reciting behind our guide, who systematically kept pushing us close to the Kaaba and succeeded in easing our way in.

It took us over three hours to complete the Tawaf and did the "SA'IE" between the two hills of Al safa and Al marwah.

We cut our hair and returned to our hotel.

We were now free to remove our Ihram.

Hajj requires visits to five venues, spread over an area of 10km.

Pilgrims are required to travel a few kilometers out east from Makkah towards Mina.

The crowd control is miraculous as millions of pilgrims operate within a limited area.

They stay three nights in Mina, in air conditioned marquees with excess to modern toilets and bathrooms.

JAMARAT COMPLEX

Our senior scholar and guide Imam Yusuf Panday after the Hajj orientation seminar took us for a tour of the tent village and a walk thru the newly built Jamarat Complex to get familiarized in advance with the surroundings, the route to the Jamarat and the location of our tents.

A complete block of the tent complex was totally and entirely reserved exclusively for our group and was located close to the Jamarat Complex.

SEE ALSO:

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1 comment:

  1. I suggest every person (Muslim) to get cheap umrah packages which provide a chance of visiting most holy and historical places.

    ReplyDelete

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