Makkah - General Information
Background to Makkah
"Verily, the first House (of worship) appointed for mankind was that at Bakkah (Makkah), full of blessing, and a guidance for Al-Alamin (the mankind and the jinn).
In it are manifest signs (for example), the Maqaam (place) of Ibraheem; whosoever enters it, he attains security..."
Surah Al-Imran (3:96-97)
It is desirable to have a bath (ghusl) before entering Makkah.
There is no particular supplication prescribed by the sunnah upon entering Makkah and also for upon entering the boundaries of al-Haram.
It is reported by Muslim that Abdullah ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with them) used to recite the following upon entering the boundaries of al-Haram:
لا إِلهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ وَحْدَهُ لاَ شَرِيْكَ لَهُ، لَهُ الْمُلْكُ وَ لَهُ الْحَمْدُ وَ هُوَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيءٍ قَدِيرٌ
"Laa ilaha illallahu wahdahu laa shareekalahu lahulmulk wa lahulhamdu wahuwa alaa kulli shay'in qadeer."
“None has the right to be worshipped except Allah, alone, without partner. And to Him belongs all praise and sovereignty and He is over all things omnipotent.”
(Ahmad & Tirmidhi)
Most pilgrims are very anxious to complete their Umrah. However, before you go rushing off to the Haram, first settle yourself into your accommodation.
Have something to eat or drink, if you feel hungry or thirsty, and have a rest if you are tired.
Keep track of the time. It is not a good idea to perform tawaaf when it is very hot. If you are not used to extreme heat, as is the case in the middle of the day during summer, delay your Umrah until later in the day when the weather is a little cooler. Do not be brave; there is no rush. You will need your strength and energy later.
Before you leave to go to the Haram, ensure that you are familiar with your surroundings and that you know how to get back to your accommodation. Use certain landmarks as a means of directions and locations.
As in any hotel, check and familiarise yourself with the emergency exits.
Take an address card of the hotel with you and keep it in your pocket, in addition to your identity card. If you do not have your Hajj card at this stage, keep some other form of identity with you (e.g., driver's licence, medical card, etc.).
There are clinics and public hospital services provided free of charge to the pilgrims. As the locations may vary, ask your group leader, hotel reception or authorities for the location. If you need to go to the hospital, either call an ambulance or the taxi driver will know the location.
The Arabic word for hospital is:
Money and Safety
As with any other trip, keep your money in a safe and secure place
Many pilgrims had their bags, wallets and money stolen from them while inside the Haram, performing tawaaf or salah.
Take extra care while you are in crowds, as this is the time when they tend to steal wallets from your pocket and even from your money belt. Some of these thieves are experts as they are able to cut right through your clothes and money belt.
Don’t carry large sums of money with you or any valuable documents in your wallet.
There are various types of beggars in and around the Haram. There are:
- the poor
- the children
- the physically deformed
- the “not so sure”
- the professionals
The first three categories are easily recognisable, and you can decide on whether you would like to give them any money or not.
The “not so sure” category is those who do not appear to be poor. Once again this is your call.
The last category is the most skilful ones. Be aware of them and do not part with your money unless you are 200% sure the beggar with his “sad story” is authentic. Do not be fooled by the tears or the medical papers. Remember they are professionals and this is an art for them. Many of them are in Ihraam or are very “well dressed”. Be careful!
Public Toilet Facilities
There are good toilet and wudhu facilities outside the Haram area. There are none inside the mosque, with the exception of the roof area where there are some wudhu facilities. Although you may notice many pilgrims performing wudhu at the other zamzam taps, they are not there for this purpose.
Lost and Found
There is a lost and found office. Ask the guards or cleaners for the location. This is for lost pilgrims as well as for lost children and lost articles and documents.
If you are lost, go to this office. If you lose an article or your wallet, this office will assist you.
In the event of loss of identification cards or wallets, certain paperwork needs to be completed at this office. (It helps a great deal if you can take an Arabic speaking person with you.)
If you have children with you, take them to this area and show it to them. Teach them to wait there (and not to panic) in the event of you “losing” them.
Put the hotel business card in your children's pockets, as well as yours.
Dress the children in brightly coloured clothes, which make it easier to see them in crowds. See chapter 3 for more details about children.
The police in the Haram will take all lost articles and persons to this office.
There are many barbers in Makkah. You can pay from between 10 to 100 Saudi riyals for a haircut, depending on where you go or what you like.
To have your head shaved will cost only 10 riyals, and maybe up to 50 riyals during the peak season.
A haircut will cost you about 20 riyals at most barbers. If you choose the hairdresser inside the Hilton shopping complex, it will cost you 50 riyals, and if you choose the hairdresser inside one of the 5 star hotels it will cost you 100 riyals or more. The choice is yours.
There are over a dozen barbers located right outside the Marwah area.
Use a soft pair of slippers (instead of shoes) as these are easier to carry with you.
There are shoe racks inside and outside the Haram. You may leave them in these racks and for the most part they will be there when you return. On the odd occasion you may find that someone has ”taken” them. It is not always the case of someone taking shoes. If you leave your shoes in the wrong place, the cleaners will sweep them away. Outside some of the big doors of the Haram, you will find a mountain of lost or unclaimed slippers and shoes. You may find a pair that fits you or you could use some as a temporary pair until you get to a shop. You may even find your own shoes.
It is best to keep your shoes/slippers with you (in a plastic bag, if possible). This is useful as you may ”lose” them or forget where you placed them. Sometimes you may not leave from the same door you entered.
If you are keeping them with you, be considerate as to where you place them while performing salah, so that they may not cause any inconvenience to other pilgrims.
Do not place your shoes on the ground with the soles facing upwards. Instead, place it on its side.
If you have to leave your shoes in one of the racks, and you are afraid of losing them, then you may consider the following: place your shoes apart from each other, meaning one shoe in one place and the other shoe somewhere else. Now do remember where you put them.
There are many times when you may have to perform salah in the street due to the crowds. During the Hajj days you may have to perform salah wherever you find a ”suitable” place, in the street or in the sand.
Makkah is a very lively and busy city. There are always plenty of activities, cars and taxis blowing their horns, people shopping, people going to and from the Haram, day and night. This city does not sleep!
Cameras are now widely used due to the mobile phones, but camera phones are not allowed in the ladies sections.
Keep a business card of the hotel where you are staying with you at all times. In the event of you getting lost, you can show it to the police or taxi driver. It is also useful in case you fall ill or end up in hospital.
Most of the smaller hotels only have one telephone line, which means that it is sometimes impossible to receive any calls, as the line is always busy. This is especially a problem for any family members or friends that are trying to call you from home. Also don't expect to always receive your telephone messages from the reception. If the hotel you live in suffers from this, inform your family, as many times they give up as they think they have the wrong number or they leave messages and may wait for you to return their call. Also give them your room number, as the receptionists does not always have the list of names with them.
You will notice many stray cats around Makkah. They are all very skinny. If you have a little food left over, don't throw it in the garbage bin, feed it to the cats instead.