Hajj: An Eye-opening Pilgrimage

Recently, I had the opportunity to complete the fifth pillar of Islam: Hajj. I spent seven days in Makkah plus an additional day for traveling and within that short period, I managed to learn a number of things.


In order to perform hajj, one must be physically and mentally prepared for the many obstacles that await him/her. From my recent experience, performing hajj was not an easy thing to do. Although we were privileged with train rides and stayed in a comfortable tent on the outskirts of Mina, we still had to face some challenges.

Pilgrims making their way towards the Big Jamarah on the 10th of Dzulhijjah.
Pilgrims making their way towards the Big Jamarah on the 10th of Dzulhijjah.

The physical challenge:

On the 10th of Dzulhijjah, my family and I had to travel about 6km on foot before arriving at the Jamarat. I have to admit, it wasn’t that difficult for me because I have grown used to walking—although it seemed like a never ending journey at that time! I witnessed many incidents that happened along the way. I remember seeing an exhausted woman sitting by the road being fanned by a couple of people and I even saw an unconscious man laying on the asphalt. We were lucky because we only had to do it once while some people had no choice but to repeat it another seven times. Just imagine how tiring it must be for an elderly to do that!

The mental challenge:

Patience is the biggest challenge every pilgrim must face during hajj. With more than 2 million people from all around the world gathered in one place, it can be quite tough at times especially during peak events. Plus, you have to be VERY patient to board the train because there are thousands of people who want to ride it too. Hence, you will need to be very patient while performing hajj especially when you are in the presence of other humans (which is most of the time).


A view of Mina.
A view of Mina.

One of the most important lessons that I learned during my pilgrimage is being grateful. Although it is said that mankind is equal during hajj, that wasn’t exactly what I saw.

After performing tawaf on the 11th of Dzulhijjah, we took a bus back to our tent in Mina but the driver stopped us at a wrong road so we were forced to walk a bit before actually arriving. I saw hundreds of people including children laying and sitting on the ground. Some were sleeping on plastic mats. Witnessing that made me realize how blessed we were to have shelter compared to those people that were living in the shade of the overpass.

Another thing that we should be grateful for is health. As I mentioned earlier, there were lots of elderly people who had to walk long distances during hajj. While most of them managed to arrive at their destination, some stumbled midway and others had to be rushed to the hospital because of exhaustion or dehydration. These incidents showed me how important being healthy is and that we should appreciate it before this gift is taken away from us as we grow old.

There are lots of things to be thankful for but many fail to see them because they are too busy comparing themselves with people who have more than them. The correct action is to measure what we have instead of the things we don’t have. This is the only way for a person to become more appreciative.

I hope these eye-opening experiences that I gained during my week in Makkah will benefit myself and others.

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Published by

Asyraf Mutalib

A passionate but lazy artser.

9 thoughts on “Hajj: An Eye-opening Pilgrimage”

  1. This was a really interesting read Asyraf, especially as someone who doesn’t know too much about Islam (apart from what I learned at school). It was like being let into someone else’s world for a minute. I think you really made the most of your pilgrimage in the lessons that you learned, I agree, we all need to focus more on what we are blessed with, rather than what we don’t have. Am I right in thinking that you are now a Hajji? How wonderful to have completed one of the pillars of Islam this early in life!

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    1. You actually seem to know much about Islam, Annie. I’m surprised! Yes I’m now a Haji and yes, I’m very lucky to perform Hajj at such a young age because many people only get this opportunity when they are old; some when they are very very old.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Salam Asyraf,

    I’ll be performing hajj this year, insyaaLlah *please pray for me as well*. But, I’m quite wondering about the transportation system that I can use during the hajj days, like travelling from Arafat to Mudzalifah and then to Mina, and also from Mina to Makkah to perform Tawaf Ifadhah, etc. I’ve read some articles that it’d be better to walk from Arafat – Mudzalifah – Mina, rather than going by bus, as the traffic will be so much severe. Based on your previous experience, could you give me some advices regarding to that?

    Terimakasih banyak :)..

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    1. Waalaikumsalam,
      I’m glad to hear this good news from you. Insya Allah everything will go smoothly 🙂
      Last year, we were given train tickets (in the form of bracelets implanted with radio frequency identification chips) to move from Mina to Muzdalifah to Arafah. Unfortunately, as far as I know, the train service is only provided to pilgrims coming from the GCC region.
      Traffic (both train & bus) is the worst on 9 and 10 Zulhijjah. After the sun set on the day of Arafah, we had to wait 4 hours before we could board the train because there were thousands of people waiting to board it. While I was on the train to Mina, I saw so many buses lined along the road (I’m not sure if it was moving or not). Luckily for us, our tent was a 5 min walk from Muzdalifah. The day after, we were forced to walk from our tent to the Jamrah since there were too many people waiting to board the train. We weren’t the only ones that had to walk as there were many other people doing the same.
      However, on the last three days of Hajj (i.e., to throw the three Jamrahs), the amount of people using the train decreased significantly and there were also people without boarding passes that took the train.

      I don’t know the reality of having to take the bus to move from one place to another but what I’m sure is that there is a high possibility that you will have to walk on the 9th and 10th. Keep in mind that Arafah is quite far from Muzdalifah (over 10km) so you have to be prepared if you were to walk. Until they learn how to manage the traffic properly, you just have to be patient with everything. Again, just be prepared to do a lot of walking. Oh, don’t worry about having to walk from Mina to Makkah because we also had to take a bus (since the train doesn’t go beyond Mina) to travel to/from these two locations.
      Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions 🙂

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      1. Thank you so much Asyraf, well, I guess I have to expect the unexpected *a lot* .

        I don’t know where the tent for Indonesian pilgrims will be, whether it will close to the train station or not. But, based on your explanation I interpret that I -as a non GCC citizen- can not purchase a regular train ticket to move from one place to another right?

        Till now, I’m still doing a research to make this great journey becomes more comfortable and memorable, insya Allah. I’ll be more than happy if I could receive some practical advices from anyone, including you who already done the Hajj in advance. Thank you so much!

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      2. No problem! I’m glad I could be of help 🙂
        Actually, I don’t remember encountering any pilgrims from SE Asia, especially near our tents. They allocate specific areas for specific pilgrims such as those from SE Asia, Turkey, etc. so you probably will be placed with pilgrims from SE Asia. About the ticket, I don’t think you can purchase it.
        Some tips:
        If I were you, I’d probably try to sneak in a penny board or some sort to make travelling less tiring.
        If you decide to shave your head, make sure you cover it (when you are allowed to) when you go outside because the heat will make you fall sick (trust me, I’ve experienced it!).
        Bring a spray bottle, preferably one where you can fold it up (see link), so you can fill it with water and spray it on your skin. It will help a ton to keep you cool.
        A final note: the water at Mina, Muzdalifah, and Arafah will be scorching hot 24/7. If you think you can’t stand it, maybe you can buy a bucket so you can fill it with water and cool it down with some ice before you use it to shower.
        Make the most of your Hajj, forget the world for a while and focus on doing what is necessary only.

        Good luck!

        Spray bottle: https://goo.gl/0eVdLR

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