Hajj is the most important turning point in the life of a Muslim. This holy journey offers great possibilities of spiritual growth such as gaining taqwa and being conscious of the presence of Allah (swt) in all our actions and affairs. It is a Muslim’s voyage to his inner world and Muslim brothers as well as history. This voyage to the blessed region that is full of memories and vestiges of ulu’l-azm prophets, God, the Master of the Universe and close companions of Prophet Muhammad (Sahabe-i kiram) also has spiritual dimensions besides the way it is practiced. Therefore, the journey of Hajj is not an ordinary one. It is different from other journeys in terms of its objective and essence. This is a journey of worship that Muslims set off on with high goals.
The General Directorate of Hajj and Umrah Services, on the one hand, exerts efforts to meet requirements of the traveling dimension of this journey thoroughly and on the other hand, attaches utmost importance to the dimension of education and guidance of
this holy journey to be a turning point in the life of a Muslim. Thus, its target is for those who go on this blessed journey, to return by having acquired fundamental virtues and, accordingly, the best moral values.
The primary duty of the General Directorate of Hajj and Umrah Services is to enable Hajj and Umrah being performed healthily and safely and services being duly offered.
In order to perform these duties, the General Directorate takes necessary precautions in the country and abroad, cooperates with countries and institutions concerned, arranges, carries out and inspects services and activities in these matters.
These duties are fulfilled in line with relevant regulations in effect and decisions of Inter-ministerial Hajj and Umrah Board and Hajj and Umrah Commissions.
The number of applicants for a Hajj is ten times more than the hajj quota given to our country. Therefore, the right to register for hajj is only given to those who have not gone for hajj before. Registration can also be done online in an electronic environment. However, registering for hajj does not mean going for hajj. This is only a pre-registration. Every year, those who will go for hajj are determined by a coefficient drawing of lots among those who have pre-registered. Those who have been selected have the right to exact registration.
60% of Prospective pilgrims who have the right to exact registration are taken to the holy lands through trips organized by the Religious Affairs and 40% through tours organized by travel agencies that organize hajj under the supervision of the Directorate of Religious Affairs and have signed a contract with the directorate.
Drawing of Lots System
A coefficient drawing of lots system is implemented in determining prospective pilgrims. Accordingly, those who have pre-gistered for the first time, have the right to take part in the drawing of lots once, those who have registered the second year have the right to take part in the drawing of lots 4 times (2x2=4),those who have registered the third year have the right to take part in the drawing of lots 9 times (3x3=9) and those who have registered the fourth year have the right to take part in the drawing of lots 16 times (4x4=16) and so on. In this system one who registers for the first time has the right to take part in the drawing of lots once while one who has registered for eight years has the right to take part in the drawing of lots for 64 times (8x8=64). So, there are more chances of being selected for those who registered in the past years. If someone is not selected after applying for the first time, he/she is automatically re-registered in the electronic environment in the following years.
Educational Dimension of Hajj and Umrah
One of the main targets of the Directorate of Religious Affairs is to assess Hajj and Umrah as an education process. Prospective pilgrims attend training courses after their exact registration procedures are completed. These training courses are planned and organized in three parts: before Hajj and Umrah, during Hajj and Umrah and afterwards. Training courses are also planned and organized for religious officials accompanying hajj convoys.
Hajj Organization and Selection of Officials
Pilgrims travel by air. Convoys in three categories as hotels, detached and normal accommodation are formed based on people’s choice. There is a convoy leader for about 200 people, a woman guide and a religious official for 40 people during Hajj and Umrah.
Sufficient number of staff is assigned to offer services like taking pilgrims to airports, welcoming them in Mecca and Medina, accommodation, coordination, health, board, transporting pilgrims and their belongings.
Careful selection of staff to be charged with education, guidance, inspection and financial aspect of the organization in different positions within the frame of certain principles and skills and based on competence and adequacy. Officials selected try to render best services for Hajj and Umrah passengers.
Hajj passengers are offered three options for accommodation: ‘Normal’, ‘Detached’ and ‘Hotel’ in terms of service standard of buildings where they are going to stay. Pilgrims prefer one of the options that they can offer. Normal Hajj accommodation offers a room with a bathroom and a maximum of 5 people can stay in the room. Detached accommodation generally consists of two or three rooms. The hotel option offers five, four or three star hotel service.
Health services are provided with seasonal hospitals in Mecca and Medina during the Hajj and health centers affiliated to these hospitals. Food services are provided by a team in charge of goods and transportation services by a service team.
Generally, there isn’t any limitation in Umrah registration with the exception of cases of emergency and the month of Ramadan. Those who want to perform Umrah can go to Umrah either through trips organized by the Directorate of Religious Affairs or authorized travel agencies. Umrah tour programs are prepared in detail every year and announced.
The Hajj is not a journey that ends in Kaaba in terms of a Muslim’s life. This journey is one that a Muslim sets out on towards God. Circumambulation of the Kaaba (tawaf) is like the symbol of this. This circumambulation is like being in another world. Hence, Kaaba is not a target but perhaps a gate to eternity. Those who want to perform the Hajj set out on this blessed journey with pure feelings and love of worship to attain this target and their good intentions and feelings become a turning point in the development of spiritual and moral life.
The Directorate of Religious Affairs exerts all possible efforts for Muslims who will perform this great act of worship which is one of the five pillars of Islam, to benefit to the utmost from the unbelievable spiritual atmosphere of the Hajj, return from this peaceful journey pure in heart and to continue their journey that started with the Hajj conscious of the presence of Allah (swt) and his knowledge.