Labbaik Allahuma labbaik!
Hajj is a pilgrimage to Mecca (Saudi Arabia). It is one of the five pillars of Islam, and every Muslim is trying to do it at least once in his life, of course if he able to. With the availability of adequate financial and physical opportunities, this pilgrimage becomes compulsory, and from that moment on, the Muslim begins to prepare for a trip to the Sacred House (i.e. Ka’bah), with the intention of praising Allah there and performing all the religious rites associated therewith.
In short, the Hajj includes the entrance the ihraam, the going out to Mina (the “camp of the tents”) and the stay in it over the night, travelling to Mount ‘Arafah, and stay there until the maghrib prayer, going to Muzdalifah and staying overnight there as well as the collection of seven stones in that area, the return to Mina near the Jamarat al-‘Aqabah and stoning it by these 7 stones, and a partial exit ihraam – the sacrifice of the animal and the shaving of hair for men, and the shortening of hair for women, the tawaaf (circumambulation) around Ka’bah and saa’i (running) between al-Safa and al-Marwah, finally – the stay in Mina for two days and stoning three Jamarat.
This year Hajj was performed in the first days of September. From Lithuania to Mecca travelled 5 Sunni Muslims. This journey is complicated not only physically, but also requires a lot of financial resources. Fortunately, the Muslims are trying to help each other. This year the international Islamic religious organization WAMY (World Assembly of Muslims Youth), which seeks to help Muslims preserve their identity and solves the youth challenges they face in this contemporary society, organized a program by which it provided 4 free places for men from the post-soviet countries to do the Hajj, in which there were 4 places for Lithuania, obliging LMSDC – the Muftiat, to distribute them among the members of the community. This organization pays for tickets, accommodation in the hotel, meals, sightseeing tours and an educational program for young people during the Hajj period. Muslims from Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, and so on gathered in Mecca, including, unfortunately, only two members of the Muslim community of Lithuania. The other three Muslims went to the Hajj on their own expenses, with partial support for the Muslims’ Religious Community of Kaunas, outside of this WAMY program.
Whoever is going to the Hajj, it’s important to know that the necessary visas can only be obtained through agencies accredited by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. While preparing for a trip, it is very important to look carefully at the agency you are applying for – not only its accreditation, but also reliability, feedback from the customers, travel conditions, etc.
Unfortunately, we do not have any travel agency in Lithuania that could take care of local pilgrims; therefore, the Danish travel agency Al-Andalous took care of this pilgrimage tour.
Documents needed for those who are preparing for Hajj or Umrah:
1. Visa of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is in Denmark and is issuing a visa to the Muslims of Lithuania travelling to Hajj or Umrah. Visas are free of charge, but only accredited agencies, which names can be found on the official website of this Embassy, can order them for a fee. No letters or approvals from local religious authorities are required.
2. Valid passport.
3. Certificate of place of residence in Lithuania or residence permit in Lithuania (it is useful to have it translated to English).
4. International Passport of vaccination. Mandatory vaccine is against the meningococcal infection in groups A, C, W-135 and Y.
5. Two passport size photos.
6. A woman needs a document certifying her relationship with her mahram: for the married woman, it is a religious marriage statement, for the unmarried one – the documents that prove the other kinship with the mahram. A woman can go to the Hajj and Umrah only accompanied by the mahram (spouse, father, grandfather, adult son, uncle, etc.)