We came back late last night from our short weekend trip to Canada for Nanna and Nana’s 50th anniversary celebratory party, and I wanted to wrap up my hajj posts. I can’t complete my Hajj posts without talking about the group we went through: Dar el Salam.
I can’t even imagine the amount of planning and behind the scenes work that must happen yearly [or even how long it takes]… but I can assure you one thing: I would recommend Dar el Salam for anyone planning on going for hajj.
Logistics wise, we pretty much registered with one of their programs, paid… and showed up. They took care of everything else. Even during the trip, they would ask for our luggage [the night before traveling or the morning of depending on our travel times] and they took care of its transportation. They provided us with a carry-on for Mena, a backpack for Arafat and Muzdalifah, a drawstring bag [which made storing items at the masjid very easy], a prayer rug [for women], ihram [for men], dua pamphlets, etc.
Their seminar before hajj? Informative. Their online forum to ask questions prior to leaving? Beyond helpful. I can’t forget the nightly seminars/lectures plus the Q+A sessions we had throughout our trip. And Sister Naz? I can’t even begin to tell you how helpful she was throughout the trip. And I absolutely loved the little tidbits of islamic knowledge she passed on to us throughout the trip at random times.
Mid-trip, I was quite surprised to find out that a lot of the group leaders [including the imams] are, in fact, volunteers. Dar el Salam simply pays for the travel expenses [tickets, food, accommodations, etc.]
A few more specific people to mention? Qari Basit [also our group 19 leader], Shahid Uncle, and Basant.
The proximity of Dar el Salam’s camps/hotels, etc. can not be beat [for its convenience]. Many make smart remarks about the premium we supposedly pay for the “luxurious hajj”… but how many stop to think about how much more time we got for ibadaat because of said proximity? Not to mention that the price differences weren’t even that much in comparison.
One of the things I found most helpful, in hindsight, was the Dar el Salam staff in the yellow shirts I have mentioned a handful of times. They traveled with us by bus, helped with some of the logistics, and just guided us. They were so helpful in times where the crowd was intense– not only were they easy to spot in their yellow shirts with tall orange signs… but they were everywhere.