I wouldn’t be surprised if there were religously based groups that offered specials on travelling to the Biblically significant areas in Israel like the Church of the Holy Sepulchure so why not for agencies that help Muslims make the hajj to Mecca by maybe giving them discount prices or something?.
Yes. In fact, going through an agency is the ONLY way to go on Hajj. It’s not exactly easy to get into Saudi Arabia. Unless you have escorts, an exact itinerary, guards, etc with you the WHOLE time, and guaranteed in advance from an approved agency, you will not be allowed to enter the country.
One of the basic principles of Islam is that only Moslems are allowed to visit Mecca. It is their Holy City.
If you are not a Moslem, don’t even think about going to Mecca, let alone Saudi Arabia. They are not a tolerant people. First of all, their authorities will make you proove you are a Moslem. If you can get past the travel agency at this end, simply carrying letters from Imams or other Moslem clerics or religious people is not enough. The Saudi immigration authorities will question you about Islam, and if you can’t quote the Koran and its commentaries like a Southern Baptist Preacher quotes the Bible, you will be in deep trouble, and the American Counsel will not be able to help you!
There have been less than a half dozen Western non-moslems who have made the trip to Mecca in the 20th century and returned alive to the West.
Correct. Saudi Arabia issues specific numbers of visas every year on a per country basis for the Hajj. The crowd that the Hajj attracts is immense and there have been a number of horrid crushing deaths in the last few decades, especially at particular choke points. So I don’t think their control of the numbers they allow in is fairly justified during the Hajj.
No to be a jerk here, but it’s OK if religions have places sacred enough for certain people not to go. The Jews had the Holy of Holies. There are parts of the Vatican that are off limits. I think many Catholics would be upset if outsiders invaded a Papal conclave.
I hope you don’t mind my correcting you
Moslem is a highly offensive term used as a slight of hand in the west. Moslem comes from the root world zulm. It refers to one that is oppressive, which is of course, extremely derogatory. Muslim, on the other hand, comes from the triconsonental root s-l-m which means peace. Salaam/Shalom, anyone?
In Arabic, there is a very distinct difference between the qaf and kaf sounds. The correct transliteration of the “recitation” is Qur’an. Also acceptable is Quran or al-Quran. Koran would be like saying that there is a Qing and Kween of England. Perhaps you can buy your Koran with a roll of korters.
Yes, there are many agencies which specialize in arranging Hajj journeys, and also the Umrah (basically a form of the pilgrimage done at ANY time of the year in contrast to the Hajj which is done in a specific month in the Islamic calendar. It is slightly different in format of some prayers and some of the tasks it requires.).
Like someone says, getting into Saudi Arabia is difficult, hence these companies. But it’s also a convenience thing for many people: most of these agencies will likely sell a package deal which includes flights, a hotel as needed, visas etc. for one price. This is far easier than trying to arrange everything seperately, but also means you’re guaranteed things such as a hotel room at a time when 10s of thousands of people also want to book.
Last time I checked prices generally averaged around the £2500 mark for the full trip. Umrah was slightly cheaper at £2000 per person.
There are also trips to other sites of Islamic interest, such as Jerusalem, some African sites and Medinah.