Six Days of Hajj with Muassassas
Today, most packages involve moving to Azizya, a suburb of Makkah, close to Mina. The main advantage is that it is cheaper than the non-moving one. The main disadvantage is that it is difficult, though not impossible, to go to the Haram for the 5 daily Salaat and Tawaaf from Azizya.
Most travel agents move their Hujjaajj to Azizya either on the 1st of Zil Hajj or 4th of Zil Hajj depending on the package you had opted for. A detailed notice will be put on the notice board of your Makkah hotel listing all the logistics for such a transfer. The night before your transfer, you will be advised to have the bulk of your luggage ready for collection in the hotel’s foyer so that it can be transferred, in advance, by truck, to your Azizya lodgings. You will only retain your hand luggage with essentials.
The following morning, the agent will transfer you by bus to Azizya or you could walk if you know the hotel or can take a taxi at your expense. Some travel agents include in their package a regular shuttle transfer between Azizya and the Haram till about the 4th of Zil Hajj. After this date, you have to make your own travel arrangements as this shuttle is withdrawn due to traffic congestion. In addition, if your return flight after Hajj is not immediate then also you will have to make your own arrangement for going to and from the Haram.
Many travel agents do not provide food in Azizya after Hajj hence you will have to rely on near-by restaurants/takeaways till your departure.
From Azizya if you wish to take a taxi to the Haram, tell the driver that you want to go to “Haram Nafak” which means the Haram tunnel. From here you just take the escalator which takes you right in front of the Haram. To return to Azizya, again take a taxi from the underground tunnel by the escalator and mention the name of your hotel in Azizya to the driver.
If you can afford an extra US$500-00 to US$800-00 per person then it is advisable to book for “special services” with the Muassassas. This package includes cleaner, most spacious tents very near the Jamaraat and Makkah. Food and drinks are available twenty four hours of the day in this package too.
During the Six Days of Hajj, make sure that you are in the correct area for each ritual. There are massive pillars and billboards that mark the boundaries of Makkah, Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah. However, these areas are NOT regular geometrically.
Because of all the traffic and people, one tends to get confused and may not realise that one is 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 is easier to walk and get to the next location quickly. Of late, an overhead train system has been commenced. This has cut down travelling time between the Holy sites to as little as ten minutes!!
Sadly enough, most bus drivers, some Mutawwif and travel agents are NOT VERY concerned about your Hajj "Arkaan" and may NOT help you get to the correct area in time. Every year Hujjaajj have horror stories to tell about their Hajj facilitators. May Allah SWT accept your Hajj and make it easy.
Furthermore, have patience. It only takes about a minute for each person to complete Ramee so there is NO need to rush or push. With patience, you will Insha Allah be able to perform it properly. The entire Jamaraat area has recently been expanded and is now air conditioned, so relax and take your own time.
Six Days "Pedal" (Walking) Hajj
On the 8th of Zil Hajj follow the pedestrian tunnel opposite the Marwa gate. It is advisable to link up with someone who has done "pedal" Hajj before.
Some Hujjaajj take two bags for the Days of Hajj - one bigger one for their entire stay in Mina and one smaller one for Arafat & Muzdalifah. They then leave the bigger one in Mina in their tent when they go to Arafat & Muzdalifah.
One of a recent handy item during the Days of Hajj is a fold-up, (flip-open), two-person tent. If you do not mind carrying it, it is very handy for privacy, (e.g. changing clothes/sleeping/eating), in Arafat and Muzdalifah. This tent may be brought from your home country or they can also be purchased in Mina, Arafat or Muzdalifah.
Traffic Jams During Six Days of Hajj
Vehicular traffic congestion especially can get very severe during these days, traffic moving at snail-pace. In such instances, it may be quicker to go by foot, so be prepared to walk. In addition, you may have undesirable company in the bus (!) hence again be prepared to walk.
In Mina and Arafat the males and females are in separate tents. Despite these tents being next to one another, work out a method of communicating with one another in case a need does arise. In Mina each large tent has "roll-up, fall-down" canvas dividers and so each tent can be subdivided for some form of privacy. However, these large tents are gender-specific!
During the Days of Hajj, meal times will be when the meal arrives! There are usually no fixed times although the organisers do their level best to follow a fixed routine. This applies to those Hujjaajj whose package includes meals. These meals are usually meat and rice although the more upmarket packages have buffets, bar-b-q's, desserts, juices, drinks, fruits etc. Some packages include pre-cooked meals so be prepared to eat cold meals during these days! If meals are not included in the package then about 150 Riyals per person should be sufficient during these days as each meal will cost approximately 10 Riyals.
Ladies, (and those having a difficulty in moving from one place to another), should be taught how to go to and from the tent/toilet area.
Make a mental note of permanent structures around your tent area in Mina and Arafat, (e.g. police post, fire station, first-aid post, telecommunication centre, etc), in case of fear of being lost in the event of venturing out of the tent area. Colour-coded, numbered tall poles are one of the best landmarks.
Muzdalifah and Seasonal Variation
Muzdalifah can be very cold depending on the season when Hajj is due, so be prepared, especially the males, who are not allowed to wear a jersey/jacket in Ihraam by Shariah.
You may have paid for air-conditioned transport for these 6 days, yet you may be assigned a vehicle which may not be so. Do not waste too much time complaining; instead proceed on the available vehicles, (or else you may end up walking), as being at specific places within the allowable time frame is more important than trivialities, (albeit a bit uncomfortable).
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copyright February 2006 (Muharram 1427)
(updated December 2013 - Safar 1435)