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HAJJ - BRUTALLY HONEST TIPS, PART II

hajj shopping guide

Welcome to my Brutally Honest Hajj Tips - Part Two! Part One included more packing tips and links to other packing guides. This guide includes some additional Hajj packing tips. And a huge shopping guide for Mecca and Medina!

Your Phone and Hajj

It seems that now selfies (and phones??) are banned in the sacred areas. That's one thing I'm not too certain of. We went in 2015 and my phone was an essential! I used a few apps throughout our trip: myDuaa (Apple and Android) and Muhammad AlShareef's Salam Umrah/Hajj App for Apple and Android. The Salam app is a complete Hajj/Umrah guide with pictures. Both apps have all the Hajj specific duaas, like for at the Kabaa, on Sa'ee, Jamaraat, etc. I had my phone out and recited them from the apps! Your other Quran apps (I use iQuran for Android) will also be useful to recite/listen to Qur'an especially for the week in Mina (bring cheap earphones). If I didn't have earphones, I had earplugs in because there is so much noise, it was the only way to get some peaceful time (and sleep!). A pocket Qur'an is good too. I just used my phone because I use the duaa apps frequently and found it easier to have both things in one 'place.' If you do the same, a power bank is a must and bring that everywhere, including to Arafat.

Arafat/Muzdalifah

The trip to Arafat, then overnight in Muzdalifah, are an essential part of Hajj. Plan for this part especially carefully. Some people brought their carry-on, but you also have to bring your overnight sleeping bag and keep that with you (our group provided us with one), so having a backpack is more convenient for this part. Plus, you have to get back to Mina, and there is so much more additional walking, looong waiting times, and crowds, that you don't want to have any large, handheld, or rolling luggage with you.

I didn't want to walk back to Mina from Muzdalifa because my ankle was still sensitive. I was terrified of the long walk, especially since we still had to do the Hajj tawaf and sa'ee and complete the jamaraat, plus I was afraid of getting lost! Getting lost was one horror I did not want to experience! However, I wish we walked, because waiting for the bus at Muzdalifah back to Mina was one of the worst parts Hajj. Lots of crowds, pushing, and confusion!

Some people went from Muzdalifah to Mecca, then back to Mina (your stay in Mina must be 3 consecutive days I believe, so if you do that, you have to make sure you get the bus back to Mina in time!) If I had known that was an option, I would've done that, but it requires careful planning! The benefit of going to Mecca from Muzdalifah is that you will avoid some of the crowds. Plus you can stop at your hotel.

We did our final tawaf on the last day of the jamaraat. We walked from Mina to Mecca. It was myself and my husband and one other guy, someone he met there and became friends with. If you're walking anywhere though, make sure you go with someone who knows Arabic and can read the signs! For those long walks, make sure you have a face mask, enough water, umbrella and/or hat! The walk from Mina to Mecca ended up being an enjoyable part of Hajj! It took us about an hour.

Shopping 

Hajj

We enjoyed walking around the Clock Tower Mall at the Kabaa after we completed the Umrah and before the Hajj crowds came!

People told us to expect to do a lot of shopping. A few thoughts about that: We bought about $500 USD and didn't use it all. My brother also gave us about $50 Saudi currency from his last trip which we used.

In Mecca, the Clock Tower Mall near the Kabaa is a great place to get food {lots of popular fast food chains like KFC and Starbucks} and shop. It's more 'expensive' than the smaller stores outside the haaram, but there are different styles of clothing, and better quality items than the stores outside the haaram. There is down-time for shopping, especially since we were there one week earlier before the actual hajj. 

We went to the Clock Tower Mall a few times. Sometimes just to eat lunch or, for lunch and shopping. {I suggest to not get caught in there at salaah time! It is so crowded and hard to leave.}

Everyone has different vibes when it comes to shopping, I usually like browsing first. I'm a huge online shopper of modest brands so clothes shopping wasn't appealing to me personally. {Plus, we were in Turkey earlier that year, and if you want to spend money on clothes and do serious souvenir shopping, Istanbul is amazing!} So Mecca wasn't as an exciting shopping experience to me.  I knew I wanted to get my mom and sister-in-law dresses and my brother some thobes (his request), and some cute finds for everyone else. Whenever we go on trips we like the traditional souvenir items like magnets, key chains, tea cups, and cool local items (we have a few swords!)

At the Clock Tower Mall, we purchased a couple thobes for my brother, one dress for my mom, a few tasbihs and a Turkish salaah mat. In the shops outside the haaram, we bought little toys for my son and I can't even remember what they were! I wish we had simply enjoyed Mecca instead of trying to shop for gifts though.

While at Mina, I bought some plain house dresses for gifts that were about $1 USD. I wore one while at Mina too, they were perfectly lightweight and not see-through! From our tent, local shops selling necessities like soap, umbrellas and phone chargers was a 10 minute walk.

We went to Medina after our Hajj. I enjoyed shopping more in Medina! It's less crowded and there are a few malls within walking distance of our hotel. The malls were all nice, with a few floors each and are really nice inside! But it's not obvious that there are shopping malls from the outside! We (me) also went to Starbucks and H&M, which were separate stores, and not in the malls.

My favorite purchase for myself were Turkish silk hijabs! They are a beautiful lightweight fabric and I purchased a few for gifts too. So safe to say the items that were the best quality and style are Turkish items, so look out for those! Another favorite purchase were engraved necklaces and key chains! It's really affordable and one of the best gifts we bought. We got a few for various friends and family!

hajj shopping guide

Lightweight cotton dress bought in Mina, Turkish silk hijabs and salaah mat, engraved necklace and key chain.

We also got this egg, but now I see them in all the local Islamic shops here!

 hajj egg

There are so many Oud stores. Perfume is definitely a good buy! I didn't buy any full size perfumes, but now I would absolutely recommend that! I purchased a few roll-on ones {Red Rose is an especially beautiful scent}, and those were great gifts for my co-workers as well.

My husband made it his mission to find magnets and tea cups and we did eventually find both!

hajj souveneirs

Eventually found tea cups and magnets! Love the Red Rose roll-on perfume and tasbihs purchased in Medina.

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 hajj guide part two



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