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This is a special series of Blogs which describe my time and experiences during Hajj this year.
Hajj Directorate arranged two training programs in Lahore for the ‘Aazimeen e Hajj’. I understand similar programs were held all over the country.
The first program was scheduled at Aiwan e Iqbal auditorium at 9.00am. Many participants arrived before time; some reached on time, and many arrived much later.
Indeed, it was a comprehensive and informative program which covered the ‘Manasik e Hajj’ in detail. Hajj process, preparation, arrangements and other key elements were covered. A video was played which elaborated even the minor details. All in all, it was truly an educative and informative program. Hajj organizers deserve appreciation for conducting such program.
A well-known religious scholar was also invited to highlight the spiritual aspects of Hajj. That light didn’t shine much here or even later. I mention this especially as it has relevance to later events.
The second training program was organized at the University of Engineering and Technology auditorium. It was a lesser replay of the first program, but was useful, nevertheless.
Director Hajj Mission Lahore, Rehan Abbas Khokhar attended both programs and made short addresses. He congratulated the participants on getting the privilege of being Allah’s guests for this auspicious travel. He also, sort of got himself free from full responsibility by saying that despite best efforts, the Hajj arrangements may still leave something to be desired. The pilgrims therefore should bear with it and should forgive the organizers in the name of Allah. The true meaning of this message is understood during Hajj.
I have seen that several religious institutions, mosques, public welfare organizations and even private places arrange Hajj training programs. I have no information about how good or effective these are, but I got to develop some reservations.
In addition, the pilgrims themselves make efforts to learn and understand about Hajj. They are also inundated with advices from family, friends, acquaintances, neighbors and colleagues, some of whom may not have yet performed Hajj.
I earnestly wish to request two things to all blessed would-be-pilgrims.
One. Please make sure to attend the government training program whenever it is conducted. These programs will adequately educate you about Hajj; the process, the preparation, the Manasiks; the ‘Fara’aiz’, ‘Waajibaat’, ‘Munkiraat’, Makroohaat’; and several other related things. You will get an overview of the entire Hajj program.
Two. Use your own judgment, thinking and information for preparations. It is you who will go to perform Hajj InShaAllah; not the public which is advising. You will be more comfortable.
The MORA kept sending some messages during this period. The passport had already been submitted to the bank. Finally, the message about travel schedule came in. I was scheduled to travel by PIA on 21st July.
At least ten day before departure, every pilgrim has to get vaccination at the Haji camp. If you are taking any medicine for such as Diabetes or Blood Pressure or Heart etc., you need to buy stock for the number of days you will be there. I would say arrange for about two months, to be on the safe side. You have to take these medicines to Haji camp and get them packed in a sealed envelope. You will not be allowed to carry loose medicines.
Haji Camp in Lahore is housed in the historical Majithia Hall building, near railway station. The building used to be boys’ hostel for Government College Lahore. The building is old and dilapidated. However, the Haji services are offered in a temporarily build marquee. Considering that a large number of people go for Hajj every year, there could be a better, permanent arrangement. Another such occasion was verification from ‘Aitemaad’. This check is mandatory and has to be done in person. ‘Aitemaad’ service is located in an obscure building on Multan road. The place is far off and inconvenient. The good thing is that Haji camp services and Aitemaad services are impressively quick, and hassle free.
Anyway, I visited Haji camp on the date and time allocated to me and got vaccinations and medicine sealing done in less than 10 minutes. The service providers were courteous, pleasant and ready to serve. Allah Bless them for doing such good work. Aameen.
Here, I again request you to do your work yourself. You don’t need to pay anyone for helping you, and in any case, no one can do it in your place.
We must understand the most important point about Hajj. This is my firm and absolute belief that no one can enter Haram Shareef without Allah’s Permission. No matter who you are, how rich you are or how powerful you are. The fact that your name was successfully drawn means that Allah has granted you His Permission to come. This was the most critical step. You have made it. Now, all other steps will be completed smoothly InShaAllah. Do not stress; follow the system and instruction. And do it yourself. Education or lack of it is not a big problem. Please do not look for an agent or tout or some false sympathizer posing to help you; they will rob you. Plenty of such incidents are reported.
The next message said that I had to collect my passport and ticket from PIA counter at Haji camp. I went there on 19th July and collected these documents. All banks’ counters were also there. This year, the government refunded between 25,000 to 55,000 to every pilgrim. It was surely a pleasant surprise.
I got about 34,300 rupees refund from Bank AlHabib counter, which I promptly used to buy Saudi Riyals from them. In addition, they gave me a decent travel bag. Allah Bless them. Aameen.