Friday, 7 June 2013

Resources on the Hajj



Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje (8 February 1857 – 26 June 1936) was a Dutch scholar of Oriental cultures and languages and Advisor on Native Affairs to the colonial government of the Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia). He was a Dutch spy and masquerading as a Muslim. He was the first to record the Hajj in Makkah. He was discovered and fled the scene, leaving his recordings of the Hajj in Makkah. His films were recovered.

HAJJ 1885

Hajj 1885 by CS Hurgronje
Masjidil Haram in Makkah flooded 1941 AD
Photo from Umi Kalthom bt Mohd Yunus @ Wan Teh, Kg Melayu Batu Uban, Penang.
Masjidil Haram in Makkah 1372 Hijrah. Photo from Umi Kalthom bt Mohd Yunus @ Wan Teh, Kg Melayu Batu Uban, Penang.
Arabic numerals (٠‎ - ١‎ - ٢‎ - ٣‎ - ٤‎ - ٥‎ - ٦‎ - ٧‎ - ٨‎ - ٩‎) 

News from Jeddah

His Excellency Sir Hugh Clifford announced, among the prominent Muslims from Malaya who are now in the Hejaz to perform the pilgrimage, are:

Inche Sawiah, widow of the late Sultan Sir Idris of Perak
Dato Muda Mentri of Perak
Inche Mohamed Salleh, Settlement Officer, Taiping
Inche Tajul Arus, Land Officer, Bandar Bharu, Kedah
Dato' Dalam of Trengganu
To' Puan Chu, widow of the late Dato' Laxamana of Perak
Inche Osman, late Assistant Collector of Land Revenue, Batu Pahat
Inche Mohamed Rajab of the Treasury, Alor Star, Kedah
Inche Mohamed bin Abdul Samad of the Ho Hong Bank, Batu Pahat
Demang Abdul Ghani and his son Inche Mahmud, Sanitary Inspector, Malacca.

The number of pilgrims, according to a letter received by Sir Hugh Clifford on 3 June 1927 from Jeddah, are: 
from the Netherland East Indies over 50,000
from Malaya over 12,000
from India, Egypt and other countries over 30,000 each
from Turkey 15,000 

There were no pilgrims from Turkey since the Great War.
There were no pilgrims from Persia.

Comparatively speaking, Malaya sends the biggest percentage of pilgrims every year.

Disembark from Hajj 1953 steamer (from YouTube video)


The Makkah Diaries


Inside Makkah


Amalan Haji Bahagian 1

Amalan Haji Bahagian 2


Haji Mabrur 2 (1/4)

Haji Mabrur 2 (2/4)

Haji Mabrur 2 (3/4)

Haji Mabrur 2 (4/4)

Arabia Felix

I was reading about Aden when I read about Yemen whose poetic old name was Arabia felix. Yemen lies on the 'right side' and that is considered 'good' as everything starts on the right or right side. A documentary on Yemen (on ASTRO) also featured its men as happy - they even danced at night. Yemen must be a happy place.

Yemen's relief is diverse, from the shoreline to the coastal plains to the wadis and mountains. Yemen is an ancient place with many ancient stories and monuments. It is hard to belief that Yemen is fertile as well as has a place called the Empty Quarter.

Almost every city in Yemen has its own character and long history.

Aden is by the sea and a volcano stands in its hinterland. It is an important seaport since time immemorial. Steamers stop at Aden for refueling and replenishing food supplies before proceeding northward to Jeddah, Port Said and finally passing through the Suez Canal and onward to Europe. Steamers from Europe also pass through the Suez Canal and stop at Aden for refueling and replenishing food supplies before sailing to India and onward to Southeast Asia. Aden harbour is busy.


The Fairsea Roma steamer with its characteristic V marked on its funnel. The Fairsea is a fleet of elegant steamers. Photo from Dr Che Lah's Hajj collections, 1960s.

Hadramaut is the seat of scholars. Hadramaut has the largest archives holding Islamic manuscripts. Scholars here migrated to various parts of the world some 700 years ago to spread what they loved most - Islam.

Mokha is the town famous for its mocca coffee, a rich chocolaty coffee au lait mix

Sana'a is beautiful.

Tarim is an ancient burial ground.

Taiz has markets.

Yemen Old Splendour Tours

Fairsea Roma steamer

Hajj Doctors and Pilgrimage in the Old Days

Hajj 1960s

I was going through 3 red boxes of old B/W photographs of the Hajj pilgrimage, belonging to my late grandfather, who served as a Hajj doctor/Hajj surgeon. The B/W photos were processed by Photo El Shark, Ahmad Mohamed Bakader, Mecca, Al Riad, Al Kharaj. P.O. Box 404, P.O. Box 309. The photographic paper used was GEVAERT. The boxes hav some pencil scribblings of names of places or event. It is quite easy to follow his serial photographs and match them to the hajj rites. The living conditions and transportation back then are a far cry from what we have today (sheer luxury). It is his sheer courage to serve as a hajj doctor not only once but numerous times, that I feel it is worth that I write and speak about him. In doing so, he had contributed greatly to our Ummah.
My grandfather is Dr Che Lah by his Malay name but at the back of one of his many Hajj photographs, his name is written in Jawi script as "Doktor Abdullah". This means his full name is possibly Dr Abdullah bin Md Joonos and his call name is Dr Che Lah. A common Penang name prefix is Che or Che'. However, he had used his call name for his schooling and work certificates. People also knew him as Dr Che Lah. I have not been able to trace his Malay wedding certificate to see his full Malay name. His Latin name is Augustine on his English wedding certificate of 1931. Joonos is the Dutch spelling for the Jawi spelling for Yunus. Joonos is pronounced as Yunus. His family could have arrived in Malaya from Hyderabad during the Dutch colonial era. His ancestors could have worked for the Dutch colonial office in Penang or nearby northern states - either Kedah or Perak. Malay names were spelled as the Dutch would spell their names. He was Indian-Malay by heritage and not Dutch, not that I know of. He was very tall, some say about 6 feet. His first wife was a Dutch Burgher. His second wife was a Chinese whom he brought on 5 of his 9 hajj trips as a hajj doctor.

Dr Che Lah bin Md Joonos Al-Haj, P.J.K.
Head of the Malayan/Malaysian Medical Missions in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

I looked at all the photographs and covers of the 3 boxes to see if I could find a date or get any hint of the date - unfortunately there was no date noted on any of the boxes. However, there was one photo which had my Chinese grandmother and her two children, a son and her adopted Chinese daughter. I tried to gauge the year by the Chinese girl's age - she is a year younger than me. She was born in 1959 and she was standing as a little girl in the family photograph. I gather that she would be about 4 or 5 years old. That would make it 1959 + 4 = 1963 or 1964. So the photos were of the early 1960s. That's the best I can get for the date. 

Anyway, I read somewhere that when the Hajj steamer sailed from Penang to Jeddah, it did not go straight there. The steamer would make one or more stops at the ports along the way, mainly to replenish food supply and water. One of the transit ports was Adan (Eden or Aden). Then the steamer continued its journey till it reached Jeddah. It took 16 days to sail from Penang to Jeddah. What happened in Jeddah? This is still a big mystery.

Haji Zul Tiger posted in my Facebook an article on Balad. What is Balad? Balad is a city in Jeddah. It seems that the pilgrims would stay a day or two or three at Balad in Jeddah before they moved to Madinah by overland route. I can't make out from the photos whether it was Balad, Madinah or other.  In the photos, the medical team stayed at a brick hotel with several of their packed stuffs still remained tied. They went to market; a buffalo farm, a poultry farm and the general marketplace. They were surrounded by traders who tried to sell them stuff including hagar, the Arab headgear and tasbih or rosary. One picture showed an old car on the beach as they picnicked by the seaside in Jeddah. I gather the medical team had spent some days in Balad or Jeddah before moving on.

Then they were photographed near some vans. They were probably negotiating a transport to travel from Balad to Madinah by road. There should be someone in the medical team who spoke Arabic in order for them to negotiate a price to hire transport to go to Madinah.

I counted the number of Malaysians in the photographs to estimate the size of the advanced medical team. There were 2 doctors (Dr Che Lah and a Dr Who), 3 nurses (Rabiah served as a pharmacist, the bigger lady's name is unknown, and one other nurse is Nik Zaleha), an elderly medical lab microbiologist and a few others were assistants. Altogether, there were 19 staff in the advanced medical team but not all were photographed at the same time (sometimes there were only 4, 7, 8 or 12 persons). There could be less or more than 19 persons because some of the people in the photographs might not be part of the advanced medical team but accompanied the team. They were probably related to the medical team members and took the opportunity to perform the hajj, or they could speak, read and write Arabic, or were ustaz and ustazah. There must be a reason for why they were travelling and performing the hajj with the medical team.

Malaysian Medical Mission early 1960s.
Dr Che Lah is seated in the middle.

Malaysian Medical Mission early 1960s.
Dr Che Lah is seated at second left.

Men in the Malaysian Medical Mission.
One of them is Haji Omar (as marked on one tin on the floor in the laboratory).
Visiting a date farm. Man at far right is wearing ihram.
The farm could be close to Makkah.
Dr Who?
Is this Dr Ahmad Adnan?
Who is this young doctor?
Dr Who? (same man as above)

Rabiah was a nurse and dispenser (pharmacist)
Nurse who?, bidan?
She was the older nurse with Rabiah.
What is her name?
Nik Zaleha and Rabiah, Malaysian hajj nurses.
Nik Zaleha has probably just arrived with her luggage at her side.
Pak Cik who?
Who was this elderly man?
Man who? Is this Dr Abbas?
Who was this man?
Man who? Microbiologist? IMR or Penang?
He was the man who manned the microscope in the laboratory.
What is his name?

The medical team arrived in Madinah on Day 20, after 16 days of sailing and 3 days in Balad and one day travelling. They made visitations inside and outside of Masjid Nabawi and Madinah (ziarah dalam and ziarah luar). From the photographs, the interior of Masjid Nabawi was crude. The exterior of Masjid Nabawi was acceptable.

One of the staff of the Malaysian Medical Mission (leftmost) outside Masjid Nabawi in Madinah, with Saudi officials.

The medical team were photographed at various places as part of their ziarah luar Madinah. They visited a small fort or masjid, Makam Syuhada Uhud at Mount Uhud, and a few unidentified places or buildings.

Rugged terrain around Jabal Thur, on the outskirt of Makkah. Jabal Thur is the mountain in the centre, with its peak pointing left. At the top of the peak is Gua Hirah, which faces Makkah.

After they stayed in Madinah, when the Hajj season approached, the medical team moved to Makkah. The ladies in the medical team had adorned black ihram (Hajj garments) which were cloaks with hoods. They looked stylish with their selendang showing a turf of hair above their foreheads.

Malaysian hajj nurses with heavy dark coats, dark shades and scarves.

The photos showed an old Masjidil Haram. The marble wall tiles were fixed as we have them today. The floor outside Masjidil Haram was not covered with marble floor tiles but was sand or earth and was dusty. There were many structures surrounding the Kaabah which cluttered the space near Kaabah. There were two staircases (one for each gender) to go down to the zamzam water wells. They are closed and cemented today (2013).

Masjidil Haram in the early 1960s

In Makkah, the medical team organised and set up the doctors quarters, the nurses quarters and a simple clinic. The corridor was narrow and rooms were very small. The doors were also small and near to each other. Patients sat on chairs and waited in the long narrow corridor. The doctor's table was covered in a velvet table cover and on top was displayed a stethoscope, a BP set and two other equipment. One of the doctors (junior) attended to an elderly man. One photo showed a nurse (bidan) attending to an elderly female patient. The younger nurse served as a dispenser or pharmacist.
Hajj medicine brought by the Malaysian Medical Mission to Makkah.
The conditions in the ward and clinic were clean. There was no air cooler or air conditioner in sight except one air cooler at the doctor's bedside. Sunshine lit the spaces in the rooms. There were oil lamps and fans on the table and floor. Carpets covered the brick floor. Suitcases were piled up neatly and pushed against the wall. The room conditions were neat.

In Mina, the Malaysian hospital was a brick building perched on the hillside of a rocky mountain. There were tents scattered on the plains below.

Hospital Malaysia with Malayan/Malaysian flag flying in Mina.

Reports of conditions during the Hajj and health outcomes of the Hajj were reported in the local newspapers upon return to Malaya/Malaysia.

TH Penang


We visited Lembaga Tabung Haji Negeri Pulau Pinang in Bayan Lepas, Penang on 5 June 2013. I interviewed Hj Ramli bin Hamid, Penyelia Haji/PTD at Pejabat Pentadbiran (go upstairs to first floor).

Q: I asked him where I could get information and reports on TH.

Ans: TH HQ in KL, Bahagian Kesihatan

Q: Whom to contact in TH HQ in KL?

Ans: Contact Hj Abdullah, Bahagian Kesihatan. They have an archive, Arkib.

Q:  When did TH change from kapal haji (steamers) to flights?

Ans: At the end of 1974

Q: Where can I get more information?

Ans: Check at TH website, under Bimbingan Haji

Q: What is the cost of Hajj package this year (2013)?

Ans: RM9,980.00

Q: When was this cost the same?

Ans: This price has been the same since last 3 years

Q: Is the pilgrim covered by any insurance policy?

Ans: Yes, they are covered as a group under insurans kelompok which covers accidents.

Q: Does the insurance cover death?

Ans: No. Death is managed differently. There is an arrangement that handles death. This does not need any insurance.

Q: How many pilgrims will be going to perform Hajj this year (2013)?

Ans: 28,000 pilgrims

Q: How is the number of pilgrims determined?

Ans: This is fixed (by Saudi Arabia) at 0.1% of the Malaysian population which is presently 28 million people.

Q: How many doctors are needed to serve during the Hajj each year?

Ans: The medical team comprise 1-2 specialists (pakar), many doctors (medical officers/MO or pegawai perubatan) and nurses. Now there are clinics at every maktab (residence). 


I then went downstairs to see what else I could get hold of before leaving TH. According to the man who was selling stuff for the Hajj, TH has recently published a guidebook. I bought a Hajj guidebook from him and then went to join the queue inside the TH banking office. There I asked if I could get the most recent TH Hajj guidebook. I had to hold on to my ticket (4008) and wait, just like the others. While waiting I copied a few things from the displayed information. Time was running out as I still had to return to Kelantan before dark. Then my number was called and I went to counter 7. At counter 7, Hj Shukri asked what I wanted. I told him I wanted the most recent TH Hajj guidebook. He asked which one I wanted, the big or the small. I said it didn't matter. He said only select pilgrims get the small TH guidebook. He gave me a small TH Hajj guidebook (2009) FOC. I asked if he had the TH Hajj poster which was displayed. He said to check at TH website. I didn't take a photo of the pilgrims' stuffs which were on display near counter 7. Now they have a bag cover with Penang emblem and pilgrim's details. The bags I saw were huge. I thanked Hj Shukri and quickly left for Kelantan. 

TH website:

YouTube videos of Hajj and Umrah:

YouTube video of Haji Tamatuk:

TH e-Book Kursus Haji:

TH Hajj guidebook for pilgrims, published in 2009.


Organisation of TH Penang

1. Pengarah/Director: Hj Rozimin bin Ahamed Kamil
2. Setiausaha/Secretary: Nor Haniza bt Ahmad
3. Timbalan Pengarah/Deputy Director: Hj Amat Kassim bin Pait

Divisions of TH Penang

1. Kewangan/Finance
2. Pemasaran/Marketing
3. Pejabat Cawangan/Branch Offices
4. Pentadbiran/Haji / Administration/Hajj
5. Keselamatan/Security

Pilgrims and interested persons can call the TH Call Centre to ask or check anything.
TH Call Centre (THCC): 03-6207-1919

Uphill to the main entrance to TH Penang
Hotel rooms at TAHA D'Mutiara (
Lot 5789 & 5790, Jalan Dato' Ismail Hashim
11900 Bayan Lepas, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia.
Tel: +604-641 2286 / 2284
Fax: +604-641 2297
There is a staircase to the right after the parked cars.
The porch is at the main building. There are people selling Hajj stuff in the foyer.
Porch of main building
TH Penang is set atop a hill and gives a good bird's eye view of Penang.