Date: 28 May 2019

Taking part in a guided tour as part of your Umrah package can be an incredible experience that adds more detail and context to your pilgrimage. But it can often be difficult to know what to look for when you’re taking a tour of sites of historic and religious significance.

So, here’s our four favourite questions to ask your personal guide to help make sure you get the most out of your pilgrimage.

1. “What impresses you the most?”

When it comes to your guide’s experience, there will be few that know the chosen area better. Asking what about the site specifically cause them to still be impressed by the location or venue can give you insight that no other tourist or pilgrim will enjoy access to. A major part of travelling in a foreign country or undertaking a religious pilgrimage is to see the world from someone else’s point of view. And what better perspective than that of a seasoned guide who still sees the beauty in a location they have visited nearly every day for years!

2. “Why is this so important?”

While this may seem like an obvious question to ask, it is a truly essential one. Asking about the historical or religious context of a site or monument can help provide you with additional knowledge that lets you contextualise the importance of the area for the individuals that have lived in the area and in the history of Islam as a whole. This could be the religious and cultural significance of Ta’if’s perfume production, the historic winding streets of Makkah’s old city, or the beauty of the dunes…as you bash your way across them.

3.  “Can we possibly slow down?”

Carrying out and pilgrimage is incredibly demanding, and any good guide will want to ensure that you see as much as possible in the time you have with them. This can mean the certain members of your party may struggle to keep up with pace set by the rest of the group of be nursing injuries and fatigue. Speaking up can allow those members to catch their breath or spend a little more time admiring or learning about a site, such as the sculptures at the Jeddah Corniche or the glorious sights of the Madinah Saleh.

4. “What question are you never asked?”

One of the most helpful questions you can ask in an interview is ‘Is there something I’ve missed out that you want to tell me’. This can open up the conversation in an informal way and help you access information that would otherwise never be discussed. Choosing to ask your Umrah guide this can quickly prompt the individual to tell you some interesting information about the site, take you to a lesser spotted area, or learn a little about their own lives and what inspired them to become a guide. Ask, and you’ll never know what amazing knowledge you’ll uncover!