Tests in Hajj

on 11 February

The testing times of Hajj


We always hear people coming back from Hajj saying things like, “Hajj was difficult”, “the agency said this…”, “the agency did that…”, “our hotel was this and that…”.

Do we really expect to have a completely painless journey? Is this what the prophet (pbuh) and his companions got and expected? We know they used to travel on foot and camel whereas we have the luxury of using aeroplanes, cars and buses.  Every now and again you hear inspirational stories such as the two brothers who cycled from South Africa in 9 months to perform Hajj.

The most popular word heard during the Hajj period is 'Sabr Haji', which roughly translated mean, 'Have patience Haji'.

Why is this used so frequently during Hajj? Well for a start there are around 4-5 million people packed into limited spaces. The requirements to accommodate, feed, transport, crowds control and other logistics make this a challenge for anyone. In addition, the heat of the Arab desert do not make it easy to maintain this Sabr.  Living in the west, we are used to systems, processes, schedules, timetables and basic order.

Unfortunately, Hajj season makes adhering to those very difficult. The Saudi authorities have been doing rather well considering how many people are attending in addition to all the construction work that is going on.

I thought I would share some of the things that I encountered which is very small compared to what others have had to endure.  These have been highlighted since these are common across majority of hajj journeys.

1. Waiting for 6 hours at the Hajj terminal after checking out in 40 mins. This is actually a very quick checkout time.

2. Being split from half my family due to coaches not arriving/departing on time

3. Getting to our accommodation from the hotel 8 hours later to find cold left over food

4. Having to share a room with 9 other men when we were told it was 4 men per room

5. Drainage system malfunctioning and sewage flowing onto carpets

6. People complaining about AC being left on as they felt too cold when most people agreed it was too hot.

7. Water flow for Wudhu at Mina was at a low pressure with no seats making it difficult to perform wudhu.

8. Eating the same dried food for 4 days in Mina

9. Waiting ages to use toilet facilities at Mina and elsewhere. When you got to go, you can appreciate how difficult this is.

10. Queuing up to buy food, only to find there is no queuing system


Now some might say that collectively these would make it very hard. However, if you think about it. We make them into issues because we have very high expectations living in the west.  For someone who comes from elsewhere, this is seen as normal, or many cases better than what they expected.  Now don’t get me wrong, some of these are genuine issues which need to be addressed.  But on the whole, these are trivial matters.

We should all take a reality check and manage our expectations. Coming from the west, we should try and expect the worst and prepare accordingly. Try and prepare for 12 hours at the airport, try and picture sleeping for a few hours sharing a room with 10 brothers, try and think about not eating for a full day. Take some Imodium so you don’t have bowel problems. We have done it before right, so why can we not do it for the biggest journey of our lives.

When my grandfather went for Hajj in the 60's, it was completely different. Now he says everything is so easy.  Did you know that the mataf area where we perform tawaaf is actually cooled by cold water running underneath?  There are 5 star hotels everywhere, yet we always find a reason to complain.

If you don’t manage expectations, you will get frustrated, you will say and do things that you should not. Remember you are in a state of ihram.

May Allah make it easy for all of us.


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