Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Hajj: The Ultimate Spiritual Journey

How would you feel if you can perform your Hajj ahead of schedule? If you are a Malaysian, this would certainly be a blessing from Allah. As per normal procedure, you will be given the tentative departure year when you open an account with Lembaga Tabung Haji, the Hajj authority of Malaysia. My queue will be in 2014 and for my wife, she is scheduled for 2016.
However, if you want to perform the Hajj ahead of your scheduled year, you can make an appeal to them by writing a letter stating your valid reasons. I gave them three reasons as per below:
-  we had performed the umrah (mini-Hajj) earlier in 2006,
- we were physically and medically fit to undergo the Hajj physical rituals, and
-  we were able to finance ourselves for the whole duration of the Hajj season.
They can either accept or reject the appeal upon receiving the letter. The appeal letter must be submitted in January or February for the year in which you plan to perform the Hajj. I did this in February 2011. With Allah’s grace, they accepted my appeal thus I could perform the Hajj in 2011 together with my wife, Dr. Rokiah.
The Hajj can only be performed in the month of Zulhijjah (the last month of the Islamic calendar), specifically from 9 - 13 Zulhijjah. 
Our Tabung Haji Travel’s Hajj Group KT85 (Nilam package) left Kompleks Haji Kelana Jaya, near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 10 buses on the night of 29 October 2011. We were given the Police escort till we reached Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang.  As our destination was Makkah, all male hajj pilgrims were already dressed in their ihram attire.
The clothing of ihram (for men) consists of two pieces of white unsewn cloth. One is wrapped round the upper part of the body, except the head. However, when performing the tawaf (circling the Kaabah), the right shoulder must not be covered; this is called as idtiba'. The other piece is wrapped round the lower part of the body (you can fix this piece using the money belt). Additionally, the toes must not be covered as well.

                                 With my wife at Kompleks Tabung Haji, Kelana Jaya

                    The hand carry baggage provided by Tabung Haji Travel

                          Our name tags, to be worn while performing the Hajj

The plane took off at about 3:15 a.m. and we landed in Jeddah about 7 hours later. We then traveled to Makkah by bus and finally reached our Dar Al-Eiman Royal Hotel located in Al-Safwa Towers just before 5:00 p.m. For Muslims, performing  the hajj is the fifth and the last pillar of Islam.  

Our hotel - Dar Al-Eiman Royal Hotel is situated in this Al-Safwa Towers

We performed the umrah on that same night, led by mutawif or religious guides.  Several compulsory rituals need to be performed. Firstly, we need to utter our intention in our heart to perform the umrah; this we had done earlier in the plane, while it was flying above Qarnul Manazil, Saudi Arabia, about 2 hours before the landing.
The second ritual was to perform the tawaf umrah. We entered the Masjidil Haram, the holy mosque, through King Abdul Aziz Gate or Gate Number 1. Upon seeing the Kaabah, I said to myself: “Thank you Allah for allowing me to be your guest”. Before performing the tawaf, the hajj pilgrims must recite the intention just before Hajar al-Aswad or the Black Stone at the wall of Kaabah. We then walked around the Kaabah in anti-clockwise direction seven times, passing by Makam Ibrahim and Hijir Ismail. 

A morning scene at the Kaabah on Friday, 29 Zulhijjah 1432H

Performing the sa’ie umrah at Safar and Marwah was the third ritual. At Safar, with our face facing Kaabah, we recited our intention to perform the sa’ie umrah and started to walk towards Marwah, about 420 metres away, and back. We did this seven times thus we should end at Marwah. At Marwah, we finished our fourth and the last ritual of umrah by cutting our hair (called tahallul); reciting our intention to part from wearing the ihram. Men were required to cut at least three strands of their hair, about 2.5 cm in length,  while it will be longer for women. It is very important that all the rituals must be performed in sequence. 

Pilgrims performing the sa'ie from Marwah to Safar

The writer (in ihram attire) after completing the umrah 

For several days that were left before we performed the hajj proper, we dressed in normal manner. We spent the time upgrading our religious activities, much so   performing the prayers, five times per day, reading the al-Quran as well as reciting the numerous doa at the Masjidil Haram. It was made known that a prayer done at this mosque is 100,000 times better than anywhere else. We took every opportunity to drink the zam zam water after every prayer.
Before leaving for Arafah for the start of hajj proper, we had to pay the token of Saudi Riyal 355.00 by virtue that we chose to perform the Tamatttu’ Hajj. We also need to pay Saudi Riyal of 430.00 if we wanted to participate in what we called the “qurban”. This was the remembrance as per the ritual as performed by Prophet Abraham on his son, Prophet Ishmael last time.
On 5 November (9 Zulhijjah), clad in ihram attire again, our group left for Arafah. The time was

about 12:50 a.m. We uttered our intention to perform the hajj while in the bus and also recited 

talbiah during the journey.

The talbiah was recited when leaving Makkah till reaching Arafah

We must be present physically, or called wukuf, at Arafah as this is the first ritual activity for hajj. Our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, had once said: “Hajj is Arafah”. In terms of timing, all the hajj pilgrims must be at Arafah, even for a second, from zohor (afternoon) of 9 Zulhijjah till subuh (dawn) of 10 Zulhijjah. At about 12:05 p.m., we started our wukuf with a sermon, followed by zohor congregation prayer.

 Location of tents for pilgrims at Arafah

At Arafah, my wife Dr Rokiah and myself raised our hands high and prayed to Allah for the well- being and betterment of ourselves and our daughters, Dr. Sarah (working in Newcastle, Australia) and Syazana (staying alone at home); family members and friends. It was during this time that tears running down from our eyes.  At Arafah, our minds were not thinking of anything else but just asking for the forgiveness from Allah. After isyak (night) prayer, we left for Muzdalifah. Here, we collected enough stones for melontar or ‘stoning-the-devil’ ritual activity at Jamarah in Mina.
We reached Mina at about 4:00 a.m. on 10 Zulhijjah (6 November 2011). Pilgrims were required to be in Mina from 10 to 13 Zulhijjah by virtue of melontar activities.

                                   Location of tents for pilgrims at Mina

 As we planned to go back to Makkah for the night, we performed the molantar on the 10 Zulhijjah at Big Jamarah (Jamrah Aqaba or Kubra) at about 11:50 p.m., followed by cutting our hairs. Again, by cutting our hairs, we can then part with our ihram attire. We then walked towards Makkah with four other friends and reached our hotel about one hour and ten minutes later.

The next day, my wife and myself went back to Mina as pillion passengers for 100 Saudi Riyal each. We stopped at Jamarah and performed the melontar at Small Jamarah (Suhgra), Middle Jamarah (Wusta) and Big Jamarah (Aqaba or Kubra). The rituals were repeated on the next two days. 

                     The scene at the Jamarah after melontar (stoning the devils)

                                        Inside the tent at Mina
 We left Mina for Makkah by bus in the afternoon of 13 Zulhijjah. To complete the hajj rituals, we still need to perform the tawaf haji and sa’ie haji. I did this with my wife on 12 November 2011, after Isyak prayer. 

From left: Hjh. Dr. Rokiah; Hjh. Dr. Aisyah; Hjh. Norhaya

               The Holy Kaabah with Makkah Clock Royal Tower in the background

With Hj. Mohd Fisol Hj. Suud inside the Masjidil Haram

After performing tawaf wada’, we left for Madinah on 1 December, reaching our hotel at about 10:00 p.m. We stayed at the Hotel Anwar Al Madinah Movenpick, located just next to the Masjid Nabawi. While in Madinah, we prayed at the Masjid Nabawi which was narrated as 1,000 times better than anywhere else. We also prayed at the Raudhah as well as passing by and performing the doa in front of the magnificent tombs of Prophet Muhammad, Saiyidina Abu Bakar and Saiyidina Omar. I did also convey my friends’ greetings to the Prophet.

            Masjid Nabawi - the Prophet's magnificent tomb is under the green dome

                         The door to the Prophet Muhammad's magnificent tomb

One of the chandeliers inside the Masjid Nabawi

I can see two of the minarets from our hotel room

For the next few days, the organizer brought us to visit the surrounding areas such as Masjid Quba, Masjid Kiblatain, Bukit Uhud, Khandak and date farm.
Masjid Quba was the first mosque built by Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and his close associates before reaching Madinah from Makkah during his “hijrah” journey. It was narrated that those who performed the wuduk (ablutions) at his home in Madinah and then travelled to Masjid Quba and prayed for 2 rakaat, he will get the credit as equivalent to performing an umrah.

                          Scene at the outside of Masjid Quba in the morning

Pilgrims performing their prayers inside Masjid Quba

Bukit Uhud was the location of Battle of Uhud during the Prophet's time

During our free time, usually before afternoon prayer, my wife and I did a little shopping for dates and other items at Taiba Complex and the surrounding areas.
Before leaving Madinah, we were required to do the wada’ (goodbye) ritual at the Masjid Nabawi. We did this during the night of 9 December. We left the hotel at about 2:00 a.m. in the morning of 10 December 2011, heading for Madinah Airport. 

                     The writer with a young Haji Aiman at Madinah Airport

 The plane took off at about 8:25 a.m. local time and landed at KLIA at about 9:25 p.m. Truly enough, the experience gained once in a lifetime when performing the hajj was just something which stays in the mind forever. “Thank you” Allah, for accepting us to be your guests during the last Hajj season.  

23 Ramadan 1434H


  1. assalamu'alaikum.
    gambar-gambar yang bapak ambil sangat sangat bagus. rasanya selalu rindu ingin kembali lagi ke tanah suci.

    thank you for sharing.

    1. Assalam Fitria,
      Terima kasih kerana memberi comment yang positif didalam rencana ini. Ia bertujuan untuk berkongsi (sharing) dengan pembaca (readers) blog saya.

      Thank you again.

      Kamaruddin Hassan

  2. Assalamu√°laikum


    Jadi semakin rindu bisa kembali ke tanah suci... terima kasih bapak, sudah mengingatkan kembali ke Baitulloh..

    1. Terima kasih saudara. Semuga saudara menjadi "tetamu Allah" lagi dalam masa yang terdekat. Kawasan Kaabah sudah di ubah suai untuk kita membuat tawaf.

      Semuga kita ketemu.

      Kamaruddin Hassan

  3. Assalamualaikum... kunjungan pertama ke blog tuan haji.

    Just wonder.. do we allowed to bring children for Haj? I mean do TH allow us?
    Turn haji saya di TH adalah tahun 2040... jauhnyer lagi, tapi tinggi harapan boleh pergi lebih awal, masa masih sihat

    1. Assalam sdri Mila,
      (1) Dalam blog ada gambar saya bersama haji kecil, Hj. Aiman. Masa itu (haji 2011), dia masih sekolah rendah, darjah 5 rasanya. Dia ada bersama dengan adik perempuan kecil. Jadi saya rasa, tiada masalah kalau hendak bawa children.

      (2) Giliran 2040 itu biasanya kalau hendak pergi dengan muasassah. Sdri boleh bertanya dengan TH bagaimana kalau hendah pergi haji lebih awal. No harm in trying, perhaps dengan TH Travel (macam saya dan isteri dahulu).

      Terima kasih.

      Kamaruddin Hassan

    2. Selama ini tak pernah dengar budak2 pergi haji, itu yang sangkakan tak boleh nak bawa kanak2. This is really a good news for my daughter.

  4. Tuan Haji,
    for the letter of appeal to TH, which department should we address to?

    1. Assalam sdri Mila,

      Masa saya dahulu (haji 2011), saya tulis pada 7 Februari 2011 kepada:

      Bahagian Operasi Domestik
      Lembaga Tabung Haji
      Lantai 30, Bangunan Ibu Pejabat Tabung Haji
      201, Jalan Tun Abdul Razak
      50723 Kuala Lumpur

      Terima kasih kerana bertanya. Saya gembira dapat membantu sedikit sebanyak, kearah menjadi "tetamu Allah".

    2. Terima kasih banyak2 Tuan Haji. Sangat berguna info ini. Jazakallah

  5. As-salam.

    Saya mengerjakan haji pada tahun 2002 dan ketika itu kamera tidak dibenarkan untuk dibawa masuk ke dalam Masjidil Haram. Ketika itu hp belum pun ada kamera padanya. Sayang sekali sebab foto hanya boleh diambil di luar sahaja.

    Saya juga memohon untuk mengerjakan haji lagi dan giliran saya pada tahun 2034 (saya cakap dengan suami, kalau begini nscaya sempat kita meninggal dululah!). Insya-Allah saya akan manfaatkan maklumat untuk urusan rayuan ini agar kami dapat berkunjung lagi ke sana dalam waktu terdekat! Terima kasih atas maklumat bermanfaat ini!

  6. Terima kasih Puan Nor Hashimah.

    Saya rasa Puan dan suami boleh tulis surat rayuan kepada Tabung Haji. Sertakan salinan kad pengenalan dan buku simpanan TH masing-masing.
    Masa saya dahulu, saya pergi hantar sendiri dengan tangan (kalau pos, nanti macam-macam ada cerita).
    Setahu saya yang terkini, sesiapa yang baharu balik dari menunaikan Haji, kena tunggu lima (5) tahun baharu boleh mendaftar semula (bagi yang sudah dalam kategori "usia emas", agak challenging juga lah).

    Cuba dan cubalah lagi, mudah-mudahan dan insyaAllah berjaya!

    Kamaruddin Hassan