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The Hajj

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Official Travel Notes Blog

The prophet Muhammad was born in Mecca, in 570, but had to move to Medina when his teachings angered local residents.

When he was 60, the prophet Muhammad returned to Mecca with his followers, and conquered the city.

His founding of Islam changed the course of history, and eventually turned Mecca into an important place of pilgrimage for Muslims.

The Pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) is the fifth of the 'Five Pillars of Islam' - the five most important acts of a Muslim (Sunni Islam) under Sharia law.

Special visas are issued to foreigners by the Government of Saudi Arabia, for the purpose of pilgrimage; although entrance to the city itself is forbidden to non-Muslims, as the entire city is considered a holy site in Islam.

Every sane and able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so is obliged to make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime, during the last month of the Islamic Calendar (Dhu al-Hijjah, or Month of Hajj).

Islamic Months
1. Muharram; 2. Safar; 3. Rabi' al-awwal; 4. Rabi' al-thani; 5. Jumada al-awwal; 6. Jumada al-thani; 7. Rajab; 8. Sha'aban; 9. Ramadan; 10. Shawwal; 11. Dhu al-Qi'dah; 12. Dhu al-Hijjah.

The Hajj

Pilgrimage rites occur during a five-day period, between the 8th and 12th days of the twelfth lunar month.

The event is also marked by the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, which falls on the 10th day of the lunar month.

Some 2 million pilgrims visit the Holy sites during the Hajj and some of the Holy places can be very crowded, particularly at the stoning of the Satans at Mina (BBC stoning story from 2003) and the circumambulation of the Kaaba.

Going to Mecca For Hajj:
Many pilgrims fly to Jeddah, and then travel to Mecca by bus. Some 25,000 British Muslims make the annual pilgrimage.

The Hajj 2006

BBC Diary of The Hajj:
As millions of people stream into Saudi Arabia for this year's Hajj, Rabiya Parekh has joined the pilgrims and is writing a diary for the BBC News website.

CNN's Hala Gorani in Mecca:
Wearing a surgical mask, Hala Gorani reports from Mecca as the Hajj gets underway this Sunday, January 8th.

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At 9/1/06 22:29, Anonymous ann said...

Thought you might want to link to The Media Line article on the plight of pilgrims for the Hajj. Here's the link


Thank you.

At 14/1/06 11:36, Blogger tree4five said...

A very interesting blog!!!

At 19/1/06 09:07, Anonymous Mel said...

never really understood islam, very nice blog btw

At 13/12/06 17:29, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Trip to Mecca in December 2006 has been an absolute nightmare. I started preparing for the trip back in March of 2006. I called up a well known and ‘trusted” travel agency in NY, Dar El Salam, to help me with my travel plans. I did this because my friends who have traveled to Hajj before me advised me with the fact the Saudi kingdom frowns on lone travelers. So, I got my meningitis shot (($132), put down a deposit for the trip ($1,500), paid for my visa application ($290), and confirmed my flight for the 16th of December. A few weeks went by after my initial contact with Dar El Salam to confirm that everything was in order. They said that the airline had booked my flight for the 14th of December. I explained to them that I had limited holiday and vacation time and that I needed to travel on the 16th as they had advertised on their website. I spoke with the manager at Dar El Salam, Ahmed Atef, he assured me that everything would be OK, and that I would be traveling on the 16th of December. I asked him what the refund policy was and he assured me that if anything happened to my ticket and that if I had any problems that I would get a complete refund for the trip. Well After several months passed and nothing happened I contacted them again to get a second written confirmation for my trip and they sent me a confirmation fax stating that I would be traveling on the 16th. I sent the rest of payments for a total of ($4,390 + $100 for a sacrificial lamb). In Early December I called them to find out about weather or not I had been approved for a Visa from the Saudi Consulate in NY. Dar El Salam said that the Consulate was not open yet for Visa processing. Finally on the 8th of December the Saudis decided to issue me my Visa. Typical of a backward Middle Eastern Country. Waiting and procrastinating until the last minute to issue vital important documents. I called Dar El Salam up to find out if they ticket was ready and they said that they had received the ticket but it was for the 14th of December. I talked to Ahmed Atef up who assured me that everything would be fine and that I would be on my way to Hajj on the 16th. Well today is the 13th and no ticket and no passport. At one point in the process they, Dar El Salam, had claimed that they did not receive my passport and apperently had lost it. They finally found it and apologized for the confusion. So, Now I just wait until the 16th to come and go without a trip to Mecca. And who knows If I will actually get a refund for my trip. Let me tell you Arabs are some of the most difficult people to deal with. I am not surprised that we are in Iraq.


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