For Muslim ummah Hajj is not a choice, rather it’s mandatory. Those who can afford financially must perform for once in a lifetime. And though umrah is not compulsory, it’s also very meaningful ibadah.
For completing the hajj or umrah smoothly, you will have to take some preparations. Choosing the right hajj and umrah agency is perhaps the most important of hajj preparation. It’s not an easy task as there are so many Hajj and Umrah agencies in Bangladesh. And they offer different service in terms of quality and pricing.
Things to consider before choosing a Hajj or Umrah agency:
Speak with some friends, relatives, and acquaintances who have been on Hajj or Umrah, which agency they have used and their experience with it. Take as many reviews as possible, as the quality of service varies significantly from agency to agency.
The ministry of Hajj in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia has provided some guidelines as to what you should consider while buying a package from any agency. Keeping pace with the guidelines here we have listed some criteria to help you to select the perfect Hajj or Umrah package according to your needs.These are mentioned below-
1. Authorised by the Ministry of Hajj :
Only registered Hajj and Umrah agencies are allowed to organize Hajj and Umrah trips. There are also some sub-agents who organize Hajj and Umrah trips under a registered agency. But there are a number of advantages of using a registered agency rather than a sub-agency:
Authorised agencies are more likely to be aware of latest rules and regulations of visa processing, airline, hotel and transportation arrangements, as they are directly involved with the process. That’s why, if you choose a sub-agency you may end up in getting inadequate service.
- Responsibility :
Authorised agencies are answerable to the ministry of Hajj. So, if any pilgrim is not pleased with the service or want to make a complaint to the Hajj ministry, can easily do so as they are accountable to the Hajj ministry. But, in case of sub-agents, the process is complicated and often impossible as they are not directly registered with the ministry.
- Identification :
Your Hajj or Umrah visa will show the name of authorized agency’s name on it. But, if you go go with a sub-agency, it won’t appear in your visa. Authorised agencies are issued with a four-digit license number by the Hajj ministry. You can check if the agency is registered with the Hajj ministry
- Assistance :
If there arises a problem with any arrangement, the authorized agency can contact the Hajj ministry for intervention and resolution. In case of sub-agencies, it won’t be possible.
- Cost :
Authorised agencies are often cheaper than sub-agencies, as sub-agencies buy services from authorized ones. Then, they add their own markup before selling. That’s why service becomes costlier.
2. Approved by the Bangladesh regulatory body :
You should check if the agency is approved by the Bangladesh regulatory body or not. The regulatory body ensures financial protection in the event.
3.Well trained spiritual guide :
Many Hajj or Umrah agents include a knowledgeable, experienced and well-trained Mufti in their package. This is very helpful especially for those occasions where you will need an immediate answer. No matter how much knowledge and information you have accumulated from books and lectures, still you may face such situations. Additionally, if you are performing Hajj or Umrah for the first time, it’s more important for you.
4.Female guide :
Having a female guide is very helpful for female pilgrims. So, you should ask your agency if they will provide a female guide or not.
5. Agency experience :
Experience of the agency is also important as experienced agencies can handle any situation more competently. You should look for how much experience the agency has in organizing Hajj and Umrah trips.
6. Accommodation :
Accommodation is important to perform your Hajj or Umrah smoothly. It doesn’t mean your accommodation should be luxurious. Inquire about the distance of the hotel from the Haram, how many people in each room and how many meals are included in your package. And also how many days you will be staying there?If you know this information before going there, these won’t disturb in your Ibaadah. Also, it will help you to be prepared mentally.
7.Enquire about full travel plan :
You should know about full travel plan including flight class, dates, and the name of the transporting airlines, and if there will be any stops on the way to the destination.
8. Hajj and Umrah fraud :
Unfortunately, in recent years many people have fallen victim to Hajj and Umrah fraud. That’s why Hajj ministry warns pilgrims not to fall into the trap of fake service packages which are advertised occasionally. These frauds often ask for cash payment and then disappear with the money.
9. Consider where you want to go first :
Some agencies take pilgrims from Bangladesh to Madinah first instead of Makkah. In Madinah airport, immigration process is less time-consuming. You may consider this too before booking your package where you prefer to go first?
10. Fellow pilgrims :
If the fellow pilgrims are of your acquaintance, it will be helpful. Again, if the fellow pilgrims have the positive outlook and they remind you of Allah, it will be extra beneficiary to perform your Hajj or Umrah according to Sunnah. On the other hand, having bad company can be disturbing.
In spite of taking all necessary preparations, be mentally prepared for any type of situation which may be not controllable. After choosing your Hajj or Umrah package, put your trust in the almighty. May Allah guide you in making the best choice.