10. Tips to make your stay in Makkah better and more effective
The following tips are applicable while you are staying in Makkah or visiting the haram.
|Tip 2. Bring with you a thick prayer mat. All the red carpets that you see in the haram are taken away during the hajj season. Therefore, if you sit in the marble floor of the haramfor a long time, especially in cross legged position, it will badly hurt your ankle.Tip 3. If your accommodation is very far away from the haram, it is OK to stay in your hotel room when you are not feeling well. You can say your prayers in a local mosque. While it is understandable that we want to worship Allah as much as we can in the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah, it should nonetheless be remembered that our health is equally important. Hajj is very demanding, and you thus need to save a lot of energy for that purpose.
Tip 4. Watch over your tongue. Normally after isha when everyone gathers in the hotel room, gossiping starts. Everyone shares his or her experience. Although seems innocuous at the beginning, indulging in such talk is always tricky. May be you will end up talking about how bad your agent is serving you, and you will later regret your impatience. May be you will say a geebah, which will be the cause of great remorse later. It is thus better to avoid such gossiping as much as you can, and if people force you to participate in their discussion, use some intelligent ways to stay away, or politely refuse.
Tip 5. We used to go to the haram in groups because of the fear that we may get lost. This practice has both advantages and disadvantages. Yes, if you stay in group, you will not get lost. Also sticking with a group helps when you hire a taxi and pay the bill, as the fare will be shared. However, going in groups also has some disadvantages. It makes decision making difficult. May be you want to sit on the first floor and your group partner wants to sit on the second floor. May be you want to come home right after isha but your partner may want to do some shopping before coming home. After first few days, we avoided going in groups, and I would advise the same for you too. Haram is easy to navigate, and have tawakkal in Allah.
Tip 6. In the haram, always try to find a place from where you have a clear view of the ka’bah. Gaze at the House of Allah as much as you can, because you will miss it dearly when you come back. Also, by merely looking at the House of Allah, you can earn reward!
Tip 7. Do as much tawaf as you can, but understand your body and make sure you save adequate energy for the hajj rites. The tawaf crowd is usually light on the roof top of the haram after dhur. However, put an umbrella over your head if you do tawaf after dhur, and keep with you a bottle of zamzam water. It usually takes 50 to 55 minutes to complete seven circles at the roof top, given that you can move freely.
Tip 8. Make lots of dua. I cannot emphasize it enough. When I say making dua, I mean you raise your hands to Allah and sincerely make dua for at least 20 minutes. I used to make only one dua each day, and now I regret why I did not make 3-4 such duas each day. Make sure that you do not regret like me when you come back from hajj. Before you go to hajj, learn the etiquettes of making dua.
Tip 9. It is OK to go for some shopping but make sure you keep your focus (why you are here) right.
Tip 10. Lower your gaze. Yes, you have to lower your gaze even in the haram! Because I have seen many women there who were not wearing hijab properly. You will also find many women sleeping in the haram, and you may find them not appropriately covered in their sleeping state.
Tip 11. Eat less. While you are at Makkah, I would recommend you to have only breakfast and dinner. Skip lunch altogether. For lunch, few dates and zamzam water should suffice.
Tip 12. Pray the funeral prayer. For each funeral prayer that you pray, you earn virtue that is equal to two uhud mountains. And multiply that with 100,000. Do you want to miss that much of reward? Learn how to pray funeral prayer before going to hajj.
Tip 13. Take good care of your feet. I would recommend that you put leather socks while doing supererogatory tawafs. Also every night before going to sleep, scrub your feet with a pumice stone, wash them with soap and warm water, and finally put some Vaseline. Your feet during hajj can make you suffer a lot (my feet made me suffer a lot) if you do not take care of them.
Tip 14. Always keep tissues—you will have to take them when you go to toilet.
Tip 15. Try to learn some basic Arabic. It will help you a lot during your stay in the Kingdom.
Tip 16. How efficiently you use your time in Makkah depends on how prepared you are. Make a good routine. It can be something like this: after dhur– tawaf and dua, after asr– quran recitation and dua, after maghrib– dhikr and dua. If you have a good routine combined with mental and spiritual preparation, you will make the most of your stay at Makkah.
11. Some photos of Masjidul Haram and its surrounding
12. Face of people
When we made umrah in 1995, my father met a cleaner of the Grand Mosque, who was having a khubz (Arabic bread) and a cucumber for his breakfast. Only khubz and cucumber-nothing else. At that time, their monthly salary used to be only 300 Saudi Riyals, which was a nothing money even in 1995. This is why when I went to hajj this year, I was eager to talk with these brothers to know if their situation has improved. I interviewed one such brother, and alhamdulillah, their situation actually improved. An English translation of this short interview is given below:
[You can listen to the interview here; but this is in Bengali]
Q: What is your name brother?
A: Nahid Majharul Haque Rubel.
Q: When did you come to Saudi Arabia?
A: In 2003.
Q: Have you been doing this work in the Grand Mosque since you arrived here?
Q: How many hours you are required to work every day?
A: Eight hours.
Q: Can you work overtime everyday?
A: No. We can work overtime only during Ramadan and during the hajj session.
Q: How is your salary?
A: 750 Saudi Riyals.
Q: Are you provided with accommodation?
Q: Does your company also provide you with food?
A: No, we have to manage that ourselves.
Q: How often are you allowed to visit your home country?
A: Once every two years.
Q: Does your company give you airfare allowance?
Q: What is your home district in Bangladesh?
Q: Are you married?
Q: Don’t you miss your family?
A: Of course.
Q: How is life in Makkah?
A: Alhamdulillah, life is going great here.
Q: So you can pray every day here at the haram.
A: Not every day, we can pray when we are at work. Our camp is about three to four kilometers away from the haram.
Q: How many siblings you have?
A: We are two brothers and two sisters.
Q: Does your other brother also live in Saudi?
A: No. He is studying back home.
Q: Are you the eldest of all?
Q: So, what do you cook normally?
A: Normal items-meat, fish, rice.
Q: Is fresh water fish available here?
A: Rare. Available fresh water fishes are mainly exports of Thailand.
Q: So, how much you have to spend for your food monthly? Can you manage within 100 riyals?
A: No, we need to spend around 350-400 riyals (I thought he was exaggerating here, food is cheap in Saudi)
Q: What is the name of the place where your camp is located?
A: The place is called Rusaifa.
Q: Alright brother. Assalamualikum!
A: Wa alalikumus salam.
12. Live Recording
I was really hoping that I would be lucky enough to pray behind Shaykh Saud Shuraim and Shaykh Abdur Rahman Sudais and hear their beautiful voices live. However, that did not happen. Shaykh Sudais did not lead any prayer during my stay. Shaykh Huamid and Shaykh Talib used to lead the Fajr and the Isha prayers, respectively, whereas Shaykh Gazzawi and Shaykh Ghamdi used to lead the Maghrib prayer interchangeably. Shaykh Shuraim led the istisqa and the eid prayer, but I was not in the haram when he led those prayers.
Here are some live audio recordings of adhan and salats of masjidul haram. I recorded them with my cell phone. The audio quality is not very good.