Why is Hajj getting so expensive-Part 1

Why is Hajj getting so expensive-Part 1

June 01, 2017 Abu Muneer Ismail Davids

This is a question I hear year after year and it perplexes me when I find people still saying, “I will wait until it gets cheaper.”

This is a two-part article addressing the issues surrounding the cost of Hajj. In the first part, I will cover the subject in general and in the second instalment, I will get into some of the detail, insha Allah. Note: I may digress while discussing some points [onto other ‘pain points’ related to Hajj], so please bear with me.

I am not writing to try and justify the increases in Hajj prices year upon year, but merely to try and give you some insight into what I believe to be some of the main reasons.

I would also like to state that I do not get involved in any financial matters or pricing, nor do I make any money from my services as a Hajj guide. (I would like to keep my intentions for doing this great service, solely for the Sake of Allah and because I love doing it).

I often ask people to make dua for me during Hajj, and a few years ago, I was giving a small talk in the camp in Mina and asked the brothers to make dua for me and my family. One brother asked me, “Abu Muneer, what specific dua would you like me to make for you?” I gave it some thought and replied, “For Allah to continue to grant me the ability, time and health as a volunteer to do this for His Sake only.”

Are you thinking about going on Hajj? Which category are you in?

  • You have the money but think it’s not worth spending – will write a separate article for this insha Allah.
  • You have the money but don’t have the time – will be covered in above article.
  • You have the money but there is no one to care for the children – will be covered in above article.
  • You don’t have the money and are having trouble saving for it – will give some tips in above article.
  • You have the money, but are waiting for the cost to go down – this article is for you.

And so to our current topic…

Will the price of Hajj come down? No, it won't; unless some drastic financial change takes place.

Are the agents just ripping off the pilgrims each year by increasing their prices? No, they’re not. The second part of my article will provide better insight and understanding as to what makes up the prices and why it keeps increasing.

Are there dishonest people dealing in Hajj? Yes, there are. But fortunately, there are very, very few. So please, be careful before you hand your deposit (normally 50%) and your passport to someone you just met.

Are there agents who don't tell you everything you need to know? Yes, there are. This is quite common as not to make you change your mind about booking with them. An example is when they don't tell you the reason their flight cost is cheaper. Usually, it is because you will make 2-3 stops on the way, or there is a domestic leg involved. Another example I found during my last Hajj, was with a pilgrim from India whom I met in the Haram. He told me that  his accommodation is for three people, but the other two are acouple that he does not know. Yes, they are sharing one small room yet he is not a mahram of the lady! He said that is how the Indian Hajj ministry saves money, by booking pilgrims all mixed together. Where are the scholars in India and why are they not addressing this? Is the excuse to make it affordable?

Are there agents who don't know what they are doing? Yes, there are. Many times people who have been for Hajj come back and say, "I can do this and not charge as much".

Are there agents who are solely driven by money? Yes, there are plenty.

Are the Saudi’s interested in making it cheaper? No, I don’t think so. I once asked a Hajj official about this and he told me sternly, “If they can’t afford it, then they don’t need to come.”

Do people jump the queue or enter multiple times into the government-controlled quota systems? Yes, they do, as it can be about who-you-know and how much you can pay.

Are there good, reputable, caring agents? Yes, most of them Alhamdulillah.

Are you living in a Western country where the Hajj visa quotas are not a major problem? If yes, spare a thought for your brothers and sisters in Indonesia. This is a message from a friend in Indonesia I received recently (30/11/2016):

“Asalamu Alaikum, they announced the annual wait list times this morning in Indonesia for hajj with numbers on waiting list vs the quota’s given by Saudi. My brother is in Bali and he currently has a 20 year waiting time but still hasn’t got his name down.

A friend of ours in Lombok [next island over] is 50 years old and doesn’t have the money yet to put down for the required deposit but it is a 25 year wait in Lombok, which means he would be 75 if he put his name down today.

My sister in Surabaya is a 15 year wait and is 15 – 18 years for Jogjakarta I’m led to believe.

It is very common practice that when someone’s time is up to go to hajj they sell everything they have to pay the final amount and then come back after hajj to nothing. Remember they have no pension system there so you only have your house, which you just sold to go to hajj!

Average wage in Indonesia for low level workers is $100 - $250Aud per month.

When you put your name down and your time comes, they notify you to pay the remainder, if you don’t then you get 2 more chances each in the following years, after that you forfeit.

There was one Indonesian brother who got the 2 offerings and couldn’t afford and this year he was offered again and said he couldn’t afford it so was really forfeiting for life, but Alhumdulillah someone helped his situation and he was at Hajj with us this year.

Me being aware of the above before, is why I felt so so blessed we were chosen by Allah to be one of the ones to go and with good health.

It’s sad that some go to hajj from all around the world and treat it like it’s a holiday because it’s so easy for them to go without the hard tests to get there.

Alhumdulillah we all were able to go!”

So, after reading the above, does the price still bother you?

Stay tuned for part two of my article, in which I will elaborate on the cost breakdown, insha Allah.