Hajj is not an itinerary trip for pilgrims to follow and perform their ritual, it is one of the most difficult experiences people can go through. No one can claim that Hajj can be done without problems, it will not be Hajj then. This why Allah “SWT” forgives all past and future sins of Hajjis who have the good intention to perform Hajj besides following all Hajj rituals. Here are some of our experiences gained by Adam Travel staff during the last twenty-five years of doing yearly Hajj. These are real scenarios that face Hajjis every year; we hope it will be useful for those who are planning to perform Hajj in near future.
1- Selecting a Hajj provider company: ask several friends who performed Hajj recently, in the past one to two years, about their experiences. A single company can have several Hajj packages; individuals travelling on different packages can give two opposing reviews, one positive and the other negative. At this point you should ask more people and gather more data to enable you to choose based on your own judgement.
2- Online reviews: these are useful but be aware that this is not your only source of information. Unfortuaneltly, many of these reviews are sponsored by the Hajj companies, so just be aware that you need to do more research.
3- Down selecting a hajj provider company: We suggest that you examine the history of the company: how many years in the business, their growth over the years and their geographical presence. We suggest that having a local office should provide an opportunity for face to face interaction.
4- Once you decide on the company: call and talk with the person in charge of Hajj to get their feed back on the package you chose. This is a crucial step to make your Hajj smooth with no unexpected surprises. The cost of the package should not be the only factor you consider in your selection, always choose the right package which fits you and/or your family.
5- If you have a problem with walking do not choose the Economy Hajj package (less expensive Hajj Package), you may wait another year and save an additional 2 to 3 thousand dollars and go to the Upgraded (Premium) Hajj package the following year. Upgrade (premium) here is in reference to the Mena and Arafat camps only, which will be explained in the paragraphs below. The average difference between the Upgraded camp and the Economy camp is about $2500-$3000, given that you are using the same hotels at Makkah and Medina.
6- Do not take infants or young children with you for Hajj, it is a punishment for them because it is a difficult journey and they are not required to do it now.
7- We strongly suggest that you go to Hajj and come back directly to the US, avoid stopping in your country of origin. For the next five years (2020 – 2025) Hajj will fall in the summer months. All international flights are packed, getting a side trip to your country of origin is a hassle for you and the company working with you.
8- Carry with you one piece of luggage and a small hand bag; best Hajj you can have if you are light to facilitate quick movements from one destination to the other. Do not carry too many things when you go to Manasek (Mena and Arafat); you will not find the space to store them and it will make you uncomfortable.
9- Never borrow Money to go for Hajj. If you are not financially able to perform Hajj, you will be written amongst those that have performed Hajj as long as you have a genuine intention.
10- Arriving Makkah or Medina first now is not a major fcator, Hajj terminals has been updated drastically. All busses from Jeddah to Makkah are fairly new and the bus ride is comfortable. Please make sure that you are aware of your luggage’s location until you receive them at your Hotel. Make sure the luggage is with you on the same bus as you are departing from airport. If a group on the same bus is dropped off at another hotel before you get to your hotel, watch out for your luggage to make sure it is not accidently dropped off early. If you lose your luggage during this transfer, you may never get it back.
11- There are two different main packages that are advertised by Hajj company providers: “Upgraded Camp” and “Economy Camp” ( sometimes called the North American Camp). The “Upgraded camp” is directly facing the Jamarat, just a few minutes walking. The “Economy Camp” is about a one (1) hour walk to Jamarat. The “Upgraded Camp” has more bathrooms per person relative to the “Economy Camp” and bathroom upkeep services are more frequent in the “Upgraded Camp”. In the “Upgraded Camp” food, open buffet style, is served three times a day during Manasek. In the “Economy Camp” food is served as boxed meals three times a day, the quality of the food is dependent on the contracted providers. In the “Upgraded Camp” each Hajj has an of area about 1.2 square meter for a sofa bed, it is tighter in the “Economy Camp”. Air conditioning is much better in the “Upgraded Camp” than the “Economy Camp”.
12- Arafat for “Upgraded Camp” is very smooth except when walking to the train or waiting for the train when departing from Arafat. Muzdalaf now has become much better than what it used to be. You can have a good relaxation there praying Maghreb and Ishaa then collecting the stones for Jamarat. In the “Economy Camp”; regarding the tent’s furniture, it is lower quality than the “Upgraded Camp” but the air-conditioning is about the same in both camps. The most difficult experiences for the “Economy Packages” are the site of Muzdalafa and the transfer in government buses between Mena, Arafat, Muzdalafa, and back to Mena.
13- Transportation during Manasek is much smoother for the “Upgraded Camp” and you should not face any issue if the selected Hajj provider – has provided a private bus for each group. For “Economy Camp” transportation is challenging between Manasek sites, some companies offer buses to transfer between Mena and Makkah to make Twaf Ifadah smoother. This service will be listed on your itinerary as provided by your selected Hajj company.
14- Visiting Medina is not a requirement for your Hajj. If this is your first Hajj, we strongly recommend that you visit Alharam Alnabawy and make a visit to the grave of the Prophet Muhammad (PUH) and his companions to deliver your Salaam to all of them. If possible, pray at the “Rawda”, this may be difficult due to the crowds at this time of the year. Nayah “intention” will be enough in this case to get the Sawab of praying at the “Rawda”.
15- At Alharam Alnabawy, there are two gates for women entrances. They are located on the North side of the Haram. It is a long walk for senior ladies so stay on south or west side of the Haram.
16- In the above paragraphs we summarized most of the logistics for Hajj but we did not explain specifically the difference between Hajj packages and how some of them can be crucial for completing your Hajj.
17- “Economy Hajj Packages” there are no major differences in Manasek services between the different “Economy Packages” offered by the various Hajj providers. Most of the packages offered stay in 3 to 4 stars hotel near the Harams then go to a building (Apartment or Hotel Style) in Azizia (a subrb in Makkah close to Jamarat) until they finish Hajj. Be careful, some companies use “Azizia” for any place in Makkah, such areas in Makkah may be far from Haram and it may be difficult to commute to Manasek or the Haram. Other companies may say place “close to Haram and no Azizia or no movements” but in fact these places may require walking at least 45 minutes to enter the Hall of the Haram. Very few companies offer 4- and 5-stars Hotels very close to Haram and state that “hotels will be available for you during the Manasek”. Available means you do not change your bed or occupancy.
18- Upgraded Hajj packages are confusing and diverse, one should read and ask carefully about the details and differences between these packages. You need to follow Suna and perform the Hajj with no doubts about missing any ritual of your hajj. It does not matter if you start your trip from Makkah or Medina. However, your hajj must start with the Tarwia night in Mena (8 ZH, arrive and pray Zohar and Asr in Mena). Next day go Arafat (9ZH) and after sun set you transfer to Muzdalfa with Train or Bus. For older people or people with some disability, it is better to use a bus but Muzdalafa will be at any location chosen by your group leaders. In case of using a Train, there is a specific location at the train station that you must stay in for the entire night or part of the night.
19- You must be very specific with the company to inform them that you want a package to spend the night in Muzdalafa. In Muzdalafa, pray Maghrab and Ishaa then – collect the 7+21+21+21 stones (if you stay the three Tashreeq days in Mena). If you stay only two days in Mena 10 ZH and 11 ZH and leave on the 12ZH then do not collect last 21 stones. After Fajar you leave Muzdalfa and go to Jamarat to perform the “Aakaba Alkobra” by throwing the 7 stones at the last Shaytan symbol.
20- Next you need to transfer to Makkah in your private bus, if no bus is provided there are government buses that travel from Jamarat to Haram (they may be crowded but it is must faster because they travel on a private road).
21- Make Tawaf AlIfadhah then make sure your Zabiha has been slaughtered if you contracted through a private agreement, but if you are buying the government coupon then you can assume it is slaughtered once you finish Tawaf AlIfadhah. Shave your hair completely and change out of Ihram cloth. Now your Ihram is over and you have no restrictions. If you have a hotel in Makkah, you may stay there and before sun set you travel back to Mena. You have the choice of staying all night in Mena or part of the night. For the next two days you throw a total of 21 stones each day, 7 stones at each Shaytan symbol. Stones should be thrown after Zohr time on the 11th and 12th of ZH.
22- Above Hajj is the complete Hajj. All other Hajj itineraries may not be identical to how the Prophet (PUH) performed his Hajj however there were several deviations to which the Prophet (PUH) did not object to.
23- Tarwia night in Mena (8 ZH) some people do it and some do not, Fatwa approved it. Some people go straight from Makkah to Arafat without entering Mena, Fatwa approved it. Staying at Muzdalafa until after midnight only, people do it and Fatwa approved it. People throw stones at any time instead of after Zohr, people do it and Fatwa approved it. People sleep in Mena half of the night only, Fatwa approved it. Some men shave completely and some shorten it. Fatwa approved both.
24- If one asks an Imam or scholar about all of the above – items you may get different answers. This depends on their background, place of study, the Mazhab they follow or other issues. However many scholars will assert that any time the Prophet (PUH) was asked he never said no to anyone rather he said “IFAAL BELAA HARAJ” means “Do it with no expected shortfall”.
25- Possible itineraries for the “Upgraded Camp” packages.
I- 1-4ZH Medina then 4-8ZH Makkah then Manasek with no Hotel. Finish Hajj and go home with one night or two in Jeddah. This should be the least expensive of the “Upgraded Camp” Hajj Packages.
II- 4-8ZH Makkah then Manasek and Medina after Hajj. This package is comparable in price to the one above (i).
III- 1-4ZH Makkah then 4-14ZH Azizia and Medina after Hajj. Although this may be cheaper than (i) and (ii), the fact that you are staying at Azizia for a long period is a show stopper, we do not recommend this package at all.
IV- 1ZH-4ZH Medina then 4-15ZH Azizia and Makkah 15-20ZH. Same as (iii) we do not recommend this package also.
V- Azizia in any package makes it difficult for people to commute to the Haram plus most of the Azizia buildings are not Hotel style rather more like apartment buildings.
VI- 4-8ZH Medina then a flight, train or bus to Makkah 8-15ZH Makkah and Manasek. This is the shortest package possible; we do not recommend this package if you want to follow the suna 100%. The reason is because you arrive Mena too late. Some people in this package go straight from Makkah to Arafat.
VII- Best and most expensive package, 1-5ZH Medina then Makkah from 5-15ZH including Manasek. Beds will be available all the time for you in Makkah and in Mena. No sitting on chairs for half of the night rather you have a sofa bed to sleep on while at Mena.
VIII- If groups alternate using a shared space at Mena then this should reduce the price of the package compared to (VII).
IX- In all the above-mentioned packages we are assuming the same quality hotels are provided across all packages. We are only differentiating between time spent at the hotels and the Manasek.
26- One item we need to explain here is the different kinds of Hajj:
Hajj TAMATOA ( Hajj with Pleasure). You make Ihram, perform Umrah with Neya for Umrah and Hajj. After finishing Umrah you get out of Ihram state and live normal until Hajj then make Ihram again on 8 ZH. After your Hajj is complete, take off Ihram as explained above. In this case you need to offer a sacrifice (zabiha).
Hajj QIRAN ( Combine Umrah with Hajj ) In this case you make Ihram one time for both Umrah and Hajj and keep the Ihram on until you finish Hajj. No Zabiha is needed in this case.
Hajj Faradi (Single Hajj) No umrah in this case, just make Ihram for Hajj.. No Zabiha needed is required in this case.