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MUTAWWIF is a knowledgeable person who can guide the pilgrim during Hajj. A Mutawwif can also be a Hajj guide appointed by the government of Saudi. Mutawwifeen, or Haj service providers, play an instrumental role in the experience of most pilgrims who come to perform the fifth pillar of Islam. Some mutawwifs are keen to assign prominent preachers who know the language of the respective pilgrims, to enlighten them on the rituals of Haj in their own language."  [1] [2] [3]


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Once you have gone through customs and immigration, travel coupons for internal travel in Saudi Arabia will be attached to your passport and you will be escorted to a bus to travel to Makkah. At this point your passport will be taken away and will be kept by the Mutawwif (a guide assigned to you by the Government). It will be given back to you at Jeddah airport on the day you return home. You will be given a photo-ID card by your Mutawwif in place of your passport. You will also be given a tag (a rubber bracelet which will identify you to the Mutawwif in case you get lost) and a Hajj security badge. [4]


The Pilgrims Progress

The annual Pilgrimage to Makkah is unquestionably one of the most remarkable spiritual journey. But it is a logistical marvel as well. Each year, starting about 10 days before the Hajj, tens of thousands of pilgrims from some many nations begin pouring into Jeddah by road, sea and air. Many are poor and old; some are ill; a few are illiterate and many thousands speak no language but their own, who must be provided with shelter, food, water, sanitary facilities, medical care and—en masse and on time—transportation during the 120-mile, six-day trip to and from Jeddah and the sacred places.


For the Saudi officials charged with handling the pilgrims it is a staggering logistical problem. During the Hajj season the population of Jiddah and Makkah suddenly triples and then as suddenly ebbs away. Another problem is the nature of the hajjis themselves. Although every sort of person, from heads of state to the near destitute, can be found among the pilgrims, the majority consists of those who work with their hands: farmers, shepherds, fishermen, weavers, carpenters, and, a recent addition, growing numbers of industrial workers.


For them—simple, unsophisticated and perhaps knowing only a little-known dialect of a little-known language—the Hajj is a bewildering experience. It is probably the only lengthy journey they will have made in their lives, possibly the first time they will have left their country—or even their district—and certainly the only time they will have traveled by air plane or ship. As a result many are confused, and even terrified, when they first face the surging masses of pilgrims in or en route to Makkah.


To cope with the growing problem of logistics, the Ministry of the Hajj has increasingly turned to a unique Hajj institution—the mutawwif or Hajj guide—to provide the personal attention that so many pilgrims require. Actually, "guide" is an utterly inadequate description. Although the mutawwif is certainly a guide, his responsibility is much greater than in the ordinary tourist-guide arrangement. The mutawwif arranges transport, accommodations, food and water—a particularly vital service when the Hajj falls during the hot months. He also sees that the pilgrims get to where they are supposed to go and gives guidance to the pilgrims with regard to the rituals. So important is his role that every single pilgrim must register with one or another of these guides as soon as he or she arrives in Saudi Arabia, and must have the guide's approval to leave.


The mutawwifs have been in business for generations and are organized into nearly 80 firms of differing sizes and standards. Service, of course, varies greatly according to rates—which range from many thousands to under $100—but no one is ever denied a guide.


Various facilities

Given the size of the crowds, even the most efficient mutawwif would be of little value without the facilities which the Saudi Government has been studying and improving since the House of Sa'ud reestablished its rule in the Hijaz. At Jeddah, for instance, the government has built large transit centers from which the pilgrims can travel directly and speedily to Makkah—and on to Mina, 'Arafat and Medina—over a network of new roads. In 1974 more than 66,000 vehicles went out from Makkah to 'Arafat at the same time and, though crammed into a 15-mile stretch, created no traffic jams, thanks to a complex of eight roads linking Makkah and 'Arafat, plus a new pedestrian road. Traffic control authorities also assigned thousands of policemen, national guardsmen and Boy Scouts, and employed closed-circuit TV, helicopters and walkie-talkies. At 'Arafat and Mina the immense "tent cities" which are put up and taken down each year are now laid out on a grid system, with welfare workers, national guardsmen and Boy Scouts assigned to each block to take charge of pilgrims who get lost or sick. Using their walkie-talkies, the guardsmen whistle up a helicopter which then hovers overhead to indicate the spot to the rescuing ambulance or police van. [5]


See also

Hajj; Umrah; Saudi Arabia; Tawaf; Masjid E Haram; Makkah;








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