It has been nearly a month since I came back from Hajj. Hajj is the most amazing thing that I have ever experienced. I felt Allah’s blessing throughout my journey. Yes, there were some difficulties but they were not as hard as I expected. Performing Hajj at young age is definitely a great advantage. I feel sorry for the elderly in my group. They went through much more difficulties as the journey involved a lot of walking, extremely hot weather and only primitive toilet facilities were provided. The whole arrangement was quite organized. Of course, there is still a big room for improvement. Given that the Saudi government had to accommodate nearly 2 million of travellers in such a short period of time, it was a relatively smooth logistic arrangement around the hectic Hajj schedule. After I came back to London, the sense of emptiness is so strong that I feel the urge to record my feeling and experience to keep myself reminded of Allah’s blessings. I hope this will also act as a guide for those who are thinking of going to Hajj in the future.
Let me first summarise our itinerary. My husband and I chose a three weeks trip. Initially, before the five days of hajj, we checked into our accommodation in Aziziyah. After our Hajj, we then stayed in a hotel near the Haram for around eight nights before spending a short stay in Madinah. We took Qatar Airways meaning we had to transfer in Doha. Upon landing in Doha, my husband changed into his ihram before heading on to Jeddah. Before we left, many of our friends told us that our wait at the airport would not be shy of a few hours. We were therefore not surprised when our wait was six hours. Just when we thought our wait was over, we were merely shifted from the waiting room to the immigration lines, which took another five hours. Finally, we cleared customs just to find we were loitering under the hot Saudi sun for another four hours for the bus transfer to Aziziyah. By the time we settled down in our rooms, it was already the afternoon of the next day (we left our house at 5am the morning before). After resting a little bit, in the night time, we headed to Masjid al Haram for our Umrah. After years of expansion, the mosque is much bigger than a few years ago, accommodating many more pilgrims for tawaaf and prayers.
From the main gate, we can see the majestic Kabah standing in the center of the mosque. This is the first time I have seen the Kabah with my own eyes. I of course took this opportunity to make a lot of duas. I recommend that you jot down all your duas before getting there as you will be too overwhelmed and your mind will be blanked out. This is a place where Muslims from all over the world gather. I never thought that Mecca, which is a few thousand miles away from my home, is a place I can meet Muslims from all around the world. Not least, I was amazed by the number of Chinese Muslims whose number was on par with those from Turkey. They are all from different parts of China including Qing Hai, Lin Xia and Xing jiang. Since the number of Chinese Muslims was so numerous, a lot of the storekeepers in Mecca actually knew some Chinese words.
I am now going on a tangent, let’s going back to our experience at Majid al Haram. We completed the Umrah including the tawaf (circumambulating the Kabah) and sai (running between mount Safaa and Marwa), in approximately 2 and a half hours.It was a lot shorter than I thought and a lot less crowded than I imagined given it was so close to the Hajj days. The weather was quite agreeable – in September, the night time temperature was around 30 odd degrees which is very similar to the weather I would get in Hong Kong. As there was air conditioning and fan in the mosque, it was actually very cool and easy.
Next part, I will share my experience during the Hajj days.