MY HAJJ EXPERIENCE VIA GOVERNMENT HAJJ SCHEME

By Hadia Rahman

Every Muslim desires to visit the holy land of Allah (Makkah and Medina) at least once in his lifetime. Blessed are those who get chosen and pay a visit there. Luckiest are those who get bestowed with an opportunity to perform one of the most important obligations of their life: Hajj pilgrimage.

It’s been a month already since I came back from the most impactful journey of my life. Allah chose me and my husband this year to perform Hajj.

I feel equally blessed and overwhelmed that I got to perform this spiritually fulfilling obligation at such young age. Alhamdulilah!

Me and my husband performed hajj via Government hajj scheme and since this is somehow different from Private hajj scheme, I wanted to narrate my 45 days journey of hajj.

Private hajj schemes have different expenses depending upon the facilities, accommodation and total number of days but their charges definitely cost you an arm and a leg which is not the case with the government scheme. Though this year government hajj scheme was without any subsidy so it costed around 4,30,000/- rupees per person including payment for qurbani (slaughtering). Paying for slaughtering is totally optional and if one doesn’t opt for it, cost was around 4,00,000/- rupees. Government hajj scheme usually has 40 to 45 days stay. Our stay was for 45 days.

Government hajj package includes residence quite far from Haram (Khana Kaba) in Azizia and it is understood that one has to avail bus service unlike private hajj schemes. Buses are arranged by the government and they are available 24/7 outside your hotel building no matter how late or early. It used to take us around 20 to 25 minutes from hotel to Haram.

Residence provided by the Pakistani government was actually good (beyond my expectations) both in Makkah and Medina. Rooms were tidy, with attached baths and ACs were working perfectly. A room was shared among 5-6 members and males (mahrams) got the adjacent room. Roommates one get and the floor one gets for room is totally luck dependent. I was quite lucky in this regard since I had really nice roommates.

Meals were served at hotel restaurant and menu and time slot was followed properly. Tea was served with breakfast and Laban (Lassi) and a seasonal fruit was served with lunch. In the same way, juice and sweet dish was served with dinner. Menu included major Pakistani staple foods i-e rice, chicken, daal, mutton, sabzi and haleem. Meals had one dish at a time.

In order to deal with any unfortunate situation, Pakistani medical camps were also founded there. Duty doctor was available 24/7. Medicines were given free of cost.

Five days of hajj were definitely tiresome since it was very hot. I got startled by the Muslim world before me. The implausible diversity of people traveling far and wide was a view to behold. Camps at Mina had bunker beds and one camp accommodated around 50- 60 people. There were no ACs there but giant water coolers  were installed in Mina camps. Private camps of Mina had ACs.

Travelling to Arafat, Mazdalfa and Jamraat was not difficult since Mashair train service was available for government hajj scheme hujjaj only. It literally took

us 5 to 10 minutes to reach at all these places. Private hajj scheme hujjaj travelled through buses and it took them lot more time and energy because of huge traffic during hajj days.

Travelling to Haram was on foot since no train service is available to Haram so “Tawaf e Ziarah” was little tiring. Going on foot was way better than using cab/bus service since roads were jam packed and fares were triple that day. Rest of the days were not so difficult.

Hajj journey is beautiful and spiritually fulfilling. I don’t think that I can find any specific buzzword for hajj. No single word can do justice to this obligation. Hajj is hard, Hajj is patience, hajj is challenging but ultimately, hajj is rewarding. May Allah accept hajj of all hujjaj and may Allah call all muslims to holy land of Saudi Arabia. Amin!

An International Relations scholar by education, Hadia is a former news anchor; an academician, freelance host and writer by profession and environmentalist at heart.

Twitter @hadiarah