Mecca is the capital of the Saudi Arabian region of Hejaz. The city is located 70 km inland from Jeddah, the place from where most of the visitors to Mecca arrive first at the King Abdulaziz International Airport. From there, the visitors of Mecca take a bus to the city to complete their journey.
The importance of Mecca to Muslims is inestimable. It is the holiest city in the religion of Islam. The reason for its immense importance for Muslims and Islam is that the ancient city hosts the most sacred architecture to Muslims, the Masjid al-Haram, or the Ka’aba. The Ka’aba was built by Prophet Abraham around a black stone that is believed by many Muslims to be a stone from Heaven. Later, the Ka’aba was designated as the direction Muslims are supposed to face for their prayers by the Prophet Muhammad.
It is strictly forbidden for non-Muslims to enter the holy city and any attempt by a non-Muslim to enter the city can result in substantial fines or deportation from the country. However, non-Muslims can travel outside the city limits throughout the country.
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Every year, millions of Muslims travel and gather at Mecca to perform their religious duties of ‘Hajj’, or pilgrimage as it is known in English, in the Islamic month of Dh’ul-Hijjah. Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, which are considered mandatory by Muslims and are the foundation of Islam. Therefore, it is obligatory for all Muslims around the world to trek to Mecca and perform this duty once in their life, at least, if they possess the physical ability and the financial means to fulfill the duties of Hajj.
The performance of Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, holds great respect and adoration among Muslims and it is a desire of the majority to fulfill the ritual once in life. However, the spiritual enlightenment of Hajj is not cheap!
How much does a pilgrimage to Mecca cost?
A prestigious event to take part in, of course, the pilgrimage to Mecca in the month of Dhul-Hijjah can cost a small fortune. The factors affecting the price begin from the flight to Mecca and, from thereon, the cost just keeps on increasing due to the accommodation, travel expenses, beverages and meals, and the camps or tents at locations like Mina and Arafat. It can vary depending on the wants of a pilgrim.
It is more convenient to apply and go for the pilgrimage with registered companies that specialize in offering Hajj trips. These companies have different packages for the pilgrimage, that cater to various price ranges and offer varying levels of facilities. The companies then take care of the payments for the accommodation and the pilgrimage fees as well.
Most packages include airfare, hotel accommodation, and food and transport expenses. The ease of flight, quality of the hotel, and the distance between the hotel and the Ka’bah are the factors that depend on the package. The amount that pilgrims spend on the Hajj can range from $6,000 to $15,000. An average traveler spends between $6500 and $8000 for Hajj. However, for convenient flights and high-end transport facilities, you will need to get a higher priced package.
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For instance, Hajj-USA is a company from New York City that offers three different packages to the pilgrims. ‘Package A’ covers 18 days and includes airfare, five-star hotel accommodation before the event, transportation via government buses, and a basic tent at Mina for $7,595. On the other hand, Package C covers 12 days while it provides all the above along with private buses for transport and a VIP tent at Mina $11,999.
Obviously, the packages for working individuals that cover fewer days cost more per day compared to the packages that cover more days.
Should an average working Joe go to Mecca for pilgrimage?
The trip to Mecca is only compulsory on Muslims who can afford the expenses that might incur during the journey and are physically capable to face the rigorous environment. The religion of Islam forbids going on the pilgrimage while the person is in debt or has to carry a loan for the trip, which indicates that it is acceptable to not go for the pilgrimage if one does not have the means. However, if the journey can be afforded, then it is in the best interest of a Muslim to partake in the magnificent gathering.