Tunisian pilgrim named Salahudeen Al-Saafi depicted his two trips to Hajj within a period gap of 44 years. He said that he experienced the trips, one with loads of hardships and the other full of comfort. Al-Saafi is among those few individuals who reported his experience and journeys from the day he exited his nation until the day he returned after performing Hajj. Al-Saafi said that performing the journey in the old times involved some pain and lots of hardships, whether for land explorers, who had to cross a couple of common landscapes, including deserts, and spend long days, even months to reach to Makkah, or for seafarers who had to tolerate the wild waves of the ocean. The attempt for Hajj was not at all easy in the 1970s where everything was pretty ancient.[irp]
Hajj in 1972: He initially performed Hajj in 1972, when he was 25 years old. His trip started at Halq Al-Wadi Port in Tunisia on the ship Al-Habib, the sole ship claimed by Tunisia at that time. Sea was the only route for Tunisians to enter Jeddah to perform Hajj. On the ship, holy teachings were taught during the 10-day trip to the pilgrims. Upon arrival in Jeddah, the pilgrims were taken for the health check up to make sure that they were not affected by any disease.
A new trip would begin for pilgrims to Makkah after entering in Jeddah. The first stop was at Um Al-Salam, where travelers offer prayers and take rest. The roads were deserted at that time, simple and narrow. Pilgrims used to hire cars, buses or camels to move on, depending on their financial condition. After wearing Ihram at meeqat, they offered Tawaf Al-Qudum then moved towards Safa and Marwa.
On the 9th day of Dul Hijjah, the pilgrims traveled to Arafat Mountain, fully loaded in buses to perform the Holy ceremony. In the 1970s, there were no such arrangements for accommodating pilgrims. Each from the same country used to straight their tents themselves in one area, and then moved to Muzdalifah and then Mina. At that time majority of the pilgrims had to travel on foot.
There were no comfortable air-conditioned buses and trains like today. At Jamrat, stones were thrown, and then pilgrims moved to the slaughterhouse to select an animal and observe the slaughtering process. They then moved to the Grand Mosque to offer Tawaf. He further stated that for Zamzam (Holy) water, pilgrims used to go close to the well and drink it, unlike today.
Recent Hajj: The biggest difference between the past and present days which he stated was that during those days pilgrims had to take foodstuff, water, and other necessary items for days and months to fulfill their needs during traveling. Today, food, drinks, and health check-ups are easily accessible. King Abdul Aziz and now his noble sons are paying attention towards the security and comfort of Hajjis through extra-large expansions of the Two Holy Mosques, expansion projects in Jamrat, the Mashair rail, the development of the Masaa and the Prophet’s Mosque, he said.[irp]
All these changes have made the Hajj trip comfortable and easier. Allah blessed the Kingdom with courageous Kings who worked hard to make smooth ways and sacrificed their personal lives to look after the House of Allah.
Source: Arab News