With more South Africans performing umrah than ever before, new travellers will experience difficulty navigating their way around the holy cities, while trying to balance the pressure of gaining the most out of their spiritual journey. While umrah is considered the ‘minor pilgrimage’, the rites of passage can become overwhelming and has become even more strenuous with the construction in Makkah.
Following a programme on air two weeks ago, VOC presenter Shaheeda Carlie shares some practical and simple tips to make your umrah pilgrimage easier.
1. Ensure that your flight booking is for connecting flights as a part of one ticket. This way you are able to ensure your weight is the same from Cape Town to Jeddah and back. Book in your luggage right through even if you get off at an airport to get onto your connecting flight.
2. Pack light. You don’t need a lot of clothes in Makkah. The fewer clothes you take the more weight and space you have available when you buy things in Makkah.
3. Pack small towels not big ones. Have a face cloth that you will carry in your ‘Haram bag’ to dry when taking wudu.
4. If you are going to hotels where they supply soap then take only one bar of soap. Take a small bar of sunlight soap to wash underwear. Take a piece of string to make a washing line in the bathroom for yourself.
5. Buy small two in one shampoo and conditioner.
6. Start taking multivitamins now and start walking now.
7. Make your nieyahs and speak with Allah in your language.
8. Take food stuff that you can use for sandwiches, etc. for example, tuna, mayonnaise, peanut butter, jam, cheese, cream crackers, salticrax, muscles, coffee, tea, condensed milk, cremora, sugar. Take tins that do not need a tin opener. If you not going to a bed and breakfast hotel then you can even take some breakfast cereal that you like.
9. A small back pack to carry things to the Haram is very useful and a shoebag.
10. There are lots of chairs in the Haram should you need to sit when making salaah.
11. A good thought is to pack in a sheet that you can use there if you are not going to a smart hotel. You can use it in your case when packing. Wrap your case content around it to secure it should your case break.
12. A good consideration is to make salaah and tawaaf upstairs when the mataaf is full.
13. The best time for tawaaf is from 08h30 or 09h00.
14. The best time to spend long hours in the Haram is from 04h00 (before tahajjud) right through till after your tawaaf. Create a programme for yourself to keep you busy with ibadat all the time. Start a khatam for example. Make tahajjud salaah from tahajjud athaan till fajr. Then recite your khatam from fajr till ishraak. Then make ishraak salaah and then go for your umrah.
15. If you are unable to go into the Haram then you could make jamaa-an with the Haram in both Al Safwa Towers and Zam Zam towers. Men proceed to the 9th floor and ladies on the 10th floor.
16. When the price is in riyaals, then multiply by 4 to get it to more or less the rand value. Our rate is 1 riyal equalled 4.29 rands.
17. Take your toiletries along. Makkah is very expensive with toiletries and all your medicines. Get a doctor’s letter with all your medicines listed in there with its dosages too.
18. Make a copy of your flight ticket and keep it in another bag.
19. There is a clean toilet on the 2nd floor at the food court in the Al Safwa towers for the men and ladies.
20. There is also a clean toilet in the Hayet Hotel Centre on the 3rd floor at the food court.
21. Carry a hotel card and identification with you at all times.
21. If you get sick then go to your nearest security in the Haram. They will get you an ambulance. The hospital is opposite the Haram in the basement of the Al Safwa Towers.
22. There is a doctor in the Haram. Familiarise yourself as to where they are situated.
23. There are ablution facilities for ladies in the Haram, usually at the back of the ladies sections upstairs.