How do I choose my Hajj package?
As the first few flights to Jeddah take off this year, those who are not performing the Hajj this year but are planning to do so in the coming year might mull over this single very important issue: Choosing the Hajj package! This represents the interface of an aspiring Haji leading to the massive logistical operation spanning millions, which exists on the fringes of what will perhaps be one’s most mesmerizing spiritual experience ever.
For most, the choice is dictated by advice from friends and family members who have already performed Hajj. The amount of information that needs to be absorbed can be daunting, and the sources are varied and often unclear.
To facilitate this elementary yet highly significant part of your Hajj, an online service called HajjBound (www.hajjbound.com) has been introduced. HajjBound is a public service website that lists Hajj and Umrah packages offered by operators from across the globe in one place. The aim is to provide an easy-to-use interface for prospective pilgrims to plan their Hajj and Umrah, Insha’Allah.
HajjBound has a special focus on details and precision, often times providing greater insight into a package than available at an operator’s website. HajjBound augments basics with useful information like distances from important landmarks, TripAdvisor reviews, and specifics on room and board, etc. Ever wonder which package your favourite scholar is traveling with? Wonder no more. HajjBound provides a listing of Shuyukh and pairs them with the operators they travel with.
HajjBound does not want users to sift through lines of text in order to glean information. Information is presented in a visually intuitive fashion. You can scan your trip dates by inspecting a prominent colour-coded calendar. Camp locations in Mina, for instance, can be seen on a map and help develop a sense of its proximity to the Jamarat. Such visual elements go a long way in not just comparing Hajj packages, but also for developing a feel for the Manasik!
HajjBound provides an egalitarian listing. It does not discriminate between different operators and packages, in terms of inclusion or prominence. This is in line with their objective to provide unaltered and impartial information. Consistent with this objective is HajjBound’s policy not to inundate users with any online ads etc., so that aspiring Hujjaj may have a pleasant and focused experience.
If you have been for Hajj, consider being a part of this project. Post your reviews and experiences, and encourage others to do the same. HajjBound aspires to have a useful collection of reviews that aspiring Hujjaj can refer to in making their choices. This is a significant challenge since Hajj and Umrah reviews suffer from a negative bias. Reviews are generally left by disgruntled customers who seek a forum to vent their frustration. This is where your help, in the form of posting your own reviews, and encouraging friends and family to do so, is invaluable. Of course, once you are using the website, you can forward suggestions on how to improve it as well.
In the end, here is a small message from the Hajjbound team: “We hope that HajjBound is of some assistance to you in performing an Ibadah that if accepted has no reward except for Jannah. In doing so, we wish to be a tiny part of your Hajj and Umrah, and beseech you to find a mention for us in your Duas once there!”