Pages: [1]   Go Down
Author Topic: Beautiful traditions of Islam: Hajj Caravans  (Read 1131 times)
jannah
Administrator
Hero Member
*****

Reps: 2778
Posts: 7134


I heart the Madina


WWW
« on: Nov 07, 2010 10:14 AM »


Salam,

Over time we have lost so many of the beautiful traditions of Islam. One of them includes the Hajj Caravans. These Caravans were groups of people who traveled long distances together and met up with larger caravans, and from there they would travel to Makkah for the Hajj. The most famous of these are from Cairo and from Damascus. There are many fascinating stories about these caravans and travels, suspense and danger, from the time of Ibn Battuta, to the Hajj railroad, until even the steamship age of Hajj in the earlier part of the 20th century. A great anthology of Hajj stories is Michael Wolfe's "One thousand roads to Mecca: ten centuries of travelers writing about the Muslim pilgrimage".

Some remnants of these traditions are still practiced in Muslim countries. For example, when I visited India before the Hajj, everyone would go to meet the Hajji before he or she left and would tell them which Duas they would like said on their behalf. The Hajji would completely wrap up all their affairs and say goodbye to friends and family like they weren't coming back. They would even take yards of white fabric to dip in Zamzam for their shroud. The whole village or town would show up at these 'Hajj departing areas' of town and send their good wishes with them.

More on Caravans: http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/200401/journeys.of.faith.roads.of.civilization.htm


Logged

jannah
Administrator
Hero Member
*****

Reps: 2778
Posts: 7134


I heart the Madina


WWW
« Reply #1 on: Nov 07, 2010 10:24 AM »

   
Daghestani pilgrims keep up Hajj caravan tradition

Jordan Times

AMMAN - Although pilgrims have long left Mecca for their home countries following the Hajj, the journey is just beginning for dozens of Daghestanis.

After travelling 1,600 kilometres to Mecca, more than 30 pilgrims from the Republic of Daghestan, a federal subject of the Russian Federation in the southern Caucasus, now find themselves on the outskirts of Amman.

Faith may have brought these intrepid travellers to the region, but business keeps them in Jordan.

With crates of honeycombs oozing with honey and live bees, tins of Russian tea, chocolates and dried fish, Daghestanis have converted an empty lot in Sweileh into a European and Oriental bazaar.

Fur hats protrude out of the windows of their vans, while fox and wolf pelts hang on clotheslines.

Over the past few weeks, the travellers have brought out their delicately arranged crystal, carpets of various sizes and patterns, and other wares from across the world, all to finance their trip of faith - and their eventual return home.

Mukhtar, a man in his 60s who has made the journey multiple times, said he is weary after the long journey from Dagestan to Mecca and from there to Amman, crammed in small vans.

Although the traditional route used to go through Iraq, after the US-led invasion in 2003, Dagestanis were forced to bypass Iraq and go from Iran through Turkey, extending the weeklong trip by two or three days, he noted.

After completing the Hajj, and making more transactions, the group picks up from Mecca and moves on to the Kingdom to sell the rest of their goods before returning home.

Streams of vans faithfully trickle into the Kingdom from Saudi Arabia each year, a modern version of the Hajj caravans that used to travel down King’s Highway from Damascus and elsewhere.

For Daghestanis young and old, the trip is a chance to see the world, complete the Hajj, and visit holy sites and tombs of the prophet’s companions on the way.

Hisham, who acts as a translator for the Daghestani community, stressed that their arrival is not organised, but is a natural movement - almost as if the route is streamlined into their DNA.

“They come every year, it’s a rite of passage in their community. I feel honoured as a Muslim, to help them out,” he said, declining to give his full name.

As most cannot afford hotels or apartments, many of the pilgrims and traders sleep in their vans atop stacks of boxes and crates containing goods from Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkey. They know their vehicle’s interior better than they know their own bed, they joked.

They get up early each morning to start bargaining, working 12-hour days.

Khalil spends most of the year collecting old brass items to sell along the Hajj route, which he insists need only a “spit and a shine” to become museum-quality antiques.

Abu Ahmad, meanwhile, displays electronics and binoculars from eastern Europe, and his wife offers knitted hats, sweaters and jackets for sale.

Amid the hustle and bustle of their makeshift bazaar, the pilgrims said they are anxious to sell off their wares, pack up and head home. Some have not seen their families for over a month, while others, such as Abu Ibrahim, are expecting new additions, with children on the way.

Sales are down compared to previous years, according to those who have made the trip before, and Jordan has become more expensive. With some Daghestanis making only a handful of dinars each day, even the ancient trade along the Hajj route is being threatened by the global economic crisis.

Mukhtar stressed that once they have earned enough to pay for fuel, it will be time to pack up their goods, say goodbye to their newfound friends and start the arduous journey home, just as previous generations have.

Despite the economic hurdles, they will be back, Mukhtar said, “because God wills it”.

25 December 2009
Logged

Ilyas
Bro
Full Member
*

Reps: 24
Posts: 117


« Reply #2 on: Nov 08, 2010 03:58 AM »

Asalam Alaikum,

How amazing it would be part of a Hajj caravan. The ride there would be a completely different adventure in itself, I am sure an exhausting one though. SubhanAllah at the pics, not exactly a big fan of the extravagant carriages being carried by the camels but I am sure they were a sight to see.

I wonder if the Daghestanis would allow others to go along with them...if there are enough people wanting to take a caravan, this could turn into a business opportunity for them lol.

Last year I had read an article, it was actually a review of a Hajj agency/groups/service providers, not sure what they're called, but the couple writing the review explained how there was flooding blocking their bus from reaching their group that was stranded waiting to be picked up while everyone else had left except for a couple others. Then a bus from another agency asked them to come along, fed them, gave them plenty of water, and took care of them for the rest of their Hajj experience for free. The whole riding on a bus with a group can sort of be seen as a caravan I suppose.

Thanks for sharing Jannah sis.
Logged

Assalamu Alaikum

jannah
Administrator
Hero Member
*****

Reps: 2778
Posts: 7134


I heart the Madina


WWW
« Reply #3 on: Oct 30, 2011 02:43 AM »

Some descriptions of the Hajj Caravans

A description of Ibn Batuta's Hajj Caravan:
http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/200004/the.longest.hajj.the.journeys.of.ibn.battuta.part.1-from.pilgrim.to.traveler.tangier.to.makkah.htm

Although the journey was arduous, there was little fear of getting lost: The way was visibly worn by the sandals of all the moveable world of that age: traders, pilgrims, servants, poets, camel-tenders, menders, soldiers, singers, ambassadors, clerks, physicians, coiners, architects, stable-sweepers, scullery boys, waiters, legalists, minstrels, jugglers, beekeepers, artisans, peddlers, shopkeepers, weavers, smiths, carters, hawkers, beggars, slaves and the occasional cutpurse and thief. Under way for six to seven weeks, the Hajj caravan was a small city on the hoof, with its own kind of cruise-ship economy, which always included several qadis for the resolution of disputes; imams to lead prayers; a muezzin to call people to prayer and a recorder of the property of pilgrims who died en route. That year, Ibn Battuta's caravan was protected from bandits by Syrian tribesmen, and he was befriended by a colleague, another Maliki qadi, in the genial and collegial fraternity of the road.


From: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2000/473/special.htm
PROPHETIC RELICS AND PALANQUINS: In Istanbul, Damascus and particularly in Cairo, the departure of the pilgrims constituted a momentous event and an occasion for extensive celebrations. The Ottoman traveller Evliya Celebi, who lived in Cairo for a decade in the 1670s, was closely acquainted with imperial ceremonial procedure. His important account of these festivities is related by Faroqhi. "The high point of the departure ceremony came when the caravan commander appeared on the square of Kara Maydan... He was accompanied by a numerous suite of soldiers and officers, while the band played, and Janissaries and other soldiers saluted their commander. The caravan commander then visited the governor of Egypt [the Pasha] in his tent, which must have been put up in this place for the occasion. Now artillery was brought to the square, presumably the cannons which the commander was to take along with him on his desert journey. The flag of the Prophet, a major relic, was paraded about the grounds along with the palanquin [Mahmal] symbolising the sultan's presence, which was to accompany the caravan to Mecca; the palanquin was carried by a camel. At the formal audience, with all the notables of Cairo present, the Pasha asked the caravan commander whether he had received the money he was going to need -- subsidies for the Bedouin sheikhs along the desert route and for the Sherif of Mecca, donations to the people living in the Holy Cities, and ready cash for all the other needs of the caravan. The caravan commander formally acknowledged that everything had been handed over 'down to the last grain and the last cloak', certain gifts taking the shape of clothing. The Pasha instructed a judge to record the matter in his register and then with a ritual invocation of God rose from his seat and walked up to the camel carrying the palanquin. After rubbing his face and hands against this symbol of the Sultan's presence, he once again invoked God and took the camel's silver chain to lead the animal around the Kara Maydan [thus proclaiming himself the Prophet's camel driver, i.e. his humble servant]. In the meantime the soldiers in a loud voice invoked the intercession of the Prophet. Then the Pasha turned to the caravan commander, affirming that the Ottoman Sultan controlled Mecca and Medina, acting as servitor of the two Holy Places. He, as the Pasha, was at once the Sultan's representative and the ruler's slave. Acting in his official capacity... the Pasha now handed over the palanquin to the caravan commander and commended the pilgrims to the protection of God, wishing them a victorious and safe return. The Pasha then returned to his seat in the tent and now it was the turn of the caravan commander to parade the palanquin. After that, the caravan set on its way."

The return of the caravan was celebrated with equal pomp: "When the caravan had reached Birkat Al-Hajj, the last stop before Cairo, the commander stayed in this locality overnight and gave a feast to the notables and officers of Cairo. The soldiers fired their muskets and cannons and at the end there were fireworks... The next morning's principal event was the ceremonial entry into the city. The notables of Cairo and the palanquin preceded the commander, who stopped at the tents of various officers to salute them. At the entrance of the city, by the gate of Bab Al-Nasr, the governor's soldiers awaited the returning pilgrims. Leaving his suite behind, the Pasha galloped ahead to meet the arriving palanquin. He then dismounted and for forty or fifty steps ran beside the camel carrying the symbol of the sultanic presence. Invoking the prayers of the Prophet, the governor kissed the palanquin's covering. The caravan commander now welcomed his illustrious visitor with military music and dismounted to rub his face against the foot of the Pasha, who thereupon honoured the new arrival with a gown of honour lined with sable. In response the caravan commander kissed the ground, then entered the city by the gate of Bab Al-Nasr."


TRAVELLERS IN DANGER: From the seventh century AD on, a multitude of pilgrims from very diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds began to flock to Mecca. By the 15th century, the pilgrims visiting the holy site would have included Arabs, Iranians, Turks, Tatars, Central Asians, Indians and Africans.

Suraiya Faroqhi, professor of Ottoman Studies at Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, has pored over travellers' accounts of the period pre-dating 1517 in order to reconstruct the history of the pilgrimage in mediaeval times. In Pilgrims and Sultans, The Hajj under the Ottomans (IB Tauris, 1994), she relates the stories of those who made the voyage then, and were wise enough to consign their impressions to their diaries.

The poet Nasir-i Khasrow is one of those who left a detailed account of his experience. Originally from Afghanistan, he moved to Egypt during the Fatimid era and embraced Shi'ism before undertaking his voyage to Mecca in the year 1047, a time of drought and famine that badly affected the Hijaz as well as other Muslim countries. For this reason, very few caravans ventured on the pilgrimage trail that year. "The Fatimid ruler dispatched an embassy, no more, to escort the covering of the Ka'ba, which even in this early period was sent every year from Cairo and Nasir-i Khasrow formed part of this embassy. After crossing the Red Sea, the travellers visited the Prophet's mosque in Medina, then followed the pilgrimage route through the desert. They found the Holy City all but abandoned, but as the time for the Hajj had just arrived, Nasir-i Khasrow was able to perform the rites of the pilgrimage," writes Faroqhi. Although he stayed a very short time -- two days in Medina and not much longer in Mecca -- he left a description of geographical locations, with details of the walls that close off the wadis leading to Mecca and other important sites surrounding the city. He also provided ample information on water supplies, possibly to help future pilgrims.

Ibn Jubayr's experience was slightly different. A courtier and secretary in the service of the governor of Granada and well-known for his literary talents, Ibn Jubayr travelled to Ceuta in Morocco where he embarked on a ship that took him to Alexandria in 1183. He then journeyed to the Upper Egyptian port of Aydhab. His negative impression was probably formed by the poor treatment meted out to pilgrims who embarked from this port: "The ships on which [they] were made to cross the Red Sea were always perilously overloaded, so that the passengers were squeezed together like chickens in a basket. In this fashion the owners of the boats attempted to maximise their earnings without any regard for the safety of the passengers: some even said... that the owner only provided the ship, the responsibility for safe arrival resting on the passengers alone," comments Faroqhi. Disheartened, Ibn Jubayr warned pilgrims to avoid this route at all cost and advised travellers coming from the western Mediterranean region to head toward Baghdad via Syria and continue their journey with the Baghdad caravan. He also offered an alternative, shorter route near the coast, leading from Egypt to the Sinai and the port of Aqaba and from there to Medina. This second path probably corresponded to the itinerary Egyptian pilgrims took in the 17th century. Ibn Jubayr himself returned by way of Baghdad, so ghastly had he found his experience at sea: "Shortly before landing in Jeddah, his ship was caught in a severe storm and swept off its course, so that eight days were needed to cover the short distance between Aydhab and Jeddah," recounts Faroqhi. Nor was his arrival in Mecca, which was at the time a modest settlement of houses built of reeds, a more propitious event. The inhabitants of Mecca, complained Ibn Jubayr, were mostly intent on exploiting the pilgrims ruthlessly, depriving them of their food and money. Worse was to come, however: "The amir [of Mecca]... viewed the pilgrims as no more than a source of revenue... and when Sultan Salaheddin's grant [a yearly donation of money and foodstuffs, forwarded by the rulers of Egypt to Mecca in order to provide for both the pilgrims and the inhabitants of the city during the pilgrimage season] was slow to arrive, the wealthy traveller from Andalusia seemed as good a substitute as any," wrote Faroqhi. "Ibn Jubayr was detained and he and his companions were made to serve as hostages to guarantee the continuing prestation of Egyptian wheat and money."

With the arrival of Salaheddin's gifts, Ibn Jubayr and his group were released and he left a much more positive account of the rest of his visit.

THE CAIRO CARAVAN: Abdel-Qader Al-Jazari was able to draw extensively on his personal experience as well as that of his family in compiling his mid-16th century account of the pilgrimage caravan, for he and his father were both involved in its administration as scribes to the caravan commander. Until 1407, there was no fixed order in the Cairo caravan, which resulted in much confusion when crossing the narrow desert passes. When the number of pilgrims increased, it became necessary to create an order of precedence in the procession; this, however, had the disadvantage of favouring the rich, who were able to secure faster mounts, wrote Al-Jazari. The caravan commander (Amir Al-Hajj), who usually joined the caravan in Ajroud, not far from Suez, was in charge of assigning the pilgrims their places. The caravan was then divided into subsections. At the very head travelled the guides -- usually Bedouins thoroughly familiar with the route -- followed by the water carriers and the notables. Next came the cash supplies, gifts and donations carried by the caravan to be distributed to the inhabitants of the holy cities, as well as subsidies to be paid to the Bedouins for various services rendered to the pilgrims. These contributions were provided for by public foundations established by the Mameluke sultans. The cash was guarded by troops of soldiers and the caravan's artillery. Next came another treasury, also provided by the Mameluke sultans and meant to cover the ordinary expenses of the caravan. Sharpshooters armed with bows and arrows and torchbearers were responsible for this section. Merchants carrying valuable goods travelled alongside the treasuries, while ordinary pilgrims made up the rear.

"Among the numerous officials accompanying the Cairo caravan," wrote Al-Jazari, "the commander's secretary occupied a key position. He had to be consulted whenever important decisions were taken and he was responsible for the payment of subsidies to the Bedouins who travelled with the caravan and thus insured its safety. A qadi settled disputes among the pilgrims...[he] was accompanied by a number of subordinates: pilgrims wishing to conclude contracts or make their wills needed men of irreproachable lifestyles to act as witnesses...Other officials were in charge of supervising the camels and horses as well as the official stores of food, fodder and water."


From http://www.salaam.co.uk/hajj/caravan.php
The Damascus Caravan

An account 1741 is an excellent description of the dangers, the fervor, the organization, and the discomfort to be found on these vast caravans.

" In the month of Shawal the pilgrims assemble in the city of Damascus, and the Pasha of Damascus is always appointed by the edict of the Emperor of Turkey, Meer Haaj, or conductor of the caravan of Makkah. Without a considerable escort it would be impossible to pass the desert; and even when the caravan is strongly guarded and the pilgrims are very numerous, the wild Arabs hang in such a manner upon their march, that if any straggle from the caravan, they are sure to be plundered. Another advantage from the appointment of the Meer Haaj is that by obliging everyone to pay implicit obedience to the regulations for marching and halting, the confusion is prevented, which would otherwise be unavoidable amongst so large a body without a head. The following are some of the regulations for the caravan. Every one has his station assigned him in the line of march, which he must preserve during the whole journey. The people of Iran, and their camels, always form the rear. When the caravan the halts, a particular spot is assigned for every string of camels, and where the master of them is allowed to pitch his tent. No one is allowed to infringe any of these regulations. When the stages are very long the caravan travels day and night; stopping an hour at each of the times of prayer, when the camels are allowed to lie down with their burthens upon their backs; and at midnight they halt in like manner another hour. In order that those at the rear may know at night when the caravan is going to halt, the Meer Haaj lets off a rocket…. The troops of the Meer Haaj guard the caravan on all sides… When the caravan arrives at Musseeret, the third stage from Damascus, they purchase necessaries for passing the desert, which the wild Arabs bring to that place for sale: after having bought what they want, they pursue their match. The stage of this journey are longer than what are travelled in any other country, insomuch that the camels of Syria, which are larger and more powerful than those of any other place, are fatigued almost to death. At the same time, the zeal of the pilgrims who go all the way on foot, keeps up their spirits, and they perform the journey with surprising ease and alacrity.


Logged

akhan
Bro
Hero Member
*

Reps: 1076
Posts: 1706



« Reply #4 on: Oct 30, 2011 09:10 AM »

Apparently, my great grandfather went for Hajj in a caravan from India. They say he returned after a year.
Logged

Emmelyn
Newbie
*

Reps: 0
Posts: 3


« Reply #5 on: Nov 02, 2011 02:11 PM »

My parents are currently performing or getting ready to perform the hajj rituals.
I know that everyone says its very dangerous and risky due to the large, stubborn crowds.
And, my mom did say that every hour or so, the speaker announces a death.
Should I be concerned?
Logged

Pages: [1]   Go Up
Print
Jump to: