The Hajj is the greatest annual pilgrimage in the world. According to the Islamic faith, every Muslim who is able to do so must visit Mecca for the Hajj at least once in their lifetimes. The Hajj occurs each year at varying dates according to the Islamic calendar, and usually falls in the mid-summer. As of late, over 2.5 million people made the pilgrimage annually.
Performing the Hajj follows ancient and very specific customs that all pilgrims must observe. Despite the herculean efforts of Saudi officials and Islamic societies, the Hajj can be quite dangerous, as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims pack into confined spaces at the same time. Elaborate safety procedures must be followed.
The present booklet was published by the Saudi Interior Ministry for distribution to English-speaking pilgrims, and in clear and concise language it elaborates on the customs that must be observed in Mecca, as well as outlining the security and transport procedures. The text is illustrated with numerous photographs, diagrams and maps.
The five maps are especially interesting. First, the map of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – Guidance Map for Land Pilgrims to Mecca depicts the various overland routes crossing Saudi Arabia used by pilgrims from Kuwait, Yemen, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
Second, the Master Plan for the Roads of Makkah and Holy Places details the main transportation routes in the Mecca area and the best means of approaching key sites.
Third, the Detailed Map for the Mina Zone showcases the enormous 20 km2 (7.7 sq mi)
‘Tent City’ that is built to house pilgrims during the Hajj. It is located 5km from Mecca, towards Mount Arafat.
Fourth, the Detailed Map of the Muzdalifa Zone shows the open space between Mina and Mount Arafat where pilgrims collect the pebbles for the ‘Stoning of the Devil’ ritual.
Fifth, the Detailed Map of the Arafat Zone showcases the facilities at the foot of Mount Arafat.
While the booklet is undated, the printing style and content of the photographs within suggest that it was issued in the 1980s.
This ephemeral work is clearly a rare survivor; we have not been able to trace a reference to it.