The story of an Englishwomans journey into Islam
As the hajj journey took months if all went well, pilgrims carried with them the provisions they needed to sustain them on their trip. The caravans were elaborately supplied with amenities and security if the persons traveling were rich, but the poor often ran out of provisions and had to interrupt their journey in order to work, save up their earnings, and then go on their way.
This resulted in long journeys which, in some cases, spanned ten years or more. Travel in earlier days was filled with adventure. The roads were often unsafe due to bandit raids. The terrain the pilgrims passed through was also dangerous, and natural hazards and diseases often claimed many lives along the way. Thus, the successful return of pilgrims to their families was the occasion of joyous celebration and thanksgiving for their safe arrival.
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Lured by the mystique of Makkah and Madinah, many Westerners have visited these two holy cities, on which the pilgrims converge, since the 15th century. Some of them disguised themselves as Muslims; others, who had genuinely converted, came to fulfill their duty. But all seem to have been moved by their experience, and many recorded their impressions of the journey and the rituals of the hajj in fascinating accounts. Many hajj travelogues exist, written in languages as diverse as the pilgrims themselves. The pilgrimage takes place each year between the eighth and the 13th days of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th month of the Muslim lunar calendar.
Its first rite is the donning of the ihram. The ihram, worn by men, is a white seamless garment made up of two pieces of cloth or toweling; one covers the body from waist to ankle and the other is thrown over the shoulder. This garb was worn by both Abraham and Muhammad. Women generally wear a simple white dress and a headcovering, but not a veil.
The ihram is a symbol of purity and of the renunciation of evil and mundane matters. It also indicates the equality of all people in the eyes of God. When the pilgrim wears his white apparel, he or she enters into a state of purity that prohibits quarreling, committing violence to man or animal and having conjugal relations. Once he puts on his hajj clothes the pilgrim cannot shave, cut his nails or wear any jewelry, and he will keep his unsown garment on till he completes the pilgrimage. A pilgrim who is already in Makkah starts his hajj from the moment he puts on the ihram.
Some pilgrims coming from a distance may have entered Makkah earlier with their ihram on and may still be wearing it. The donning of the ihram is accompanied by the primary invocation of the hajj, the talbiyah:. Here I am at Thy Command! Thou art without associate; Here I am at Thy Command! Thine are praise and grace and dominion! Thou art without associate. The thunderous, melodious chants of the talbiyah ring out not only in Makkah but also at other nearby sacred locations connected with the hajj. On the first day of the hajj, pilgrims sweep out of Makkah toward Mina, a small uninhabited village east of the city.
As their throngs spread through Mina, the pilgrims generally spend their time meditating and praying, as the Prophet did on his pilgrimage.
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Some of them gather at the Mount of Mercy, where the Prophet delivered his unforgettable Farewell Sermon, enunciating far-reaching religious, economic, social and political reforms. These are emotionally charged hours, which the pilgrims spend in worship and supplication. Many shed tears as they ask God to forgive them. On this sacred spot, they reach the culmination of their religious lives as they feel the presence and closeness of a merciful God.
My Journey to Islam - IslamiCity
Many of the pilgrims had tears streaming down their cheeks; others raised their faces to the starlit sky that had witnessed this drama so often in the past centuries. The shining eyes, the passionate appeals, the pitiful hands outstretched in prayer moved me in a way that nothing had ever done before, and I felt caught up in a strong wave of spiritual exaltation. I was one with the rest of the pilgrims in a sublime act of complete surrender to the Supreme Will which is Islam.
I visualize the many preachers who have spoken to countless millions who have assembled on the vast plain below; for this is the culminating scene of the Great Pilgrimage.
Hajj: The Journey of a Lifetime
Thus, the hopeful pilgrims prepare to leave this plain joyfully, feeling reborn without sin and intending to turn over a new leaf. There they first pray and then collect a fixed number of chickpea-sized pebbles to use on the following days. Before daybreak on the third day, pilgrims move en masse from Muzdalifah to Mina. There they cast at white pillars the pebbles they have previously collected. It was very strange because from that instant I became extremely shy in his presence out of respect for him and his values. I would simply sit quietly and listen to what he was saying about Islam.
When they went home I would often debate the points discussed with my then-boyfriend but I was always left having to agree the viewpoint given in Islam made perfect sense. Slowly I began to picture together in my mind a view of how perfect the world would be if we all lived our lives as dictated by God in Islam.
Many aspects of Islam appealed to me directly. Many issues that If I had implemented in my teenage years, would have made such a vast difference in my upbringing. For me, it was some of the prohibitions laid down in Islam that appealed to me. For example, the prohibition of alcohol. We are told in the Holy Qur'an that there is some benefit in it but the harm outweighs the good.
I could clearly see the ill-effects a large consumption of alcohol had played in my own life but could also see the damage at a societal level. It leads to a loosening of behavior which can lead to fornication, adultery and crime. Islam also prohibits sexual relations outside of marriage. For me this was so appealing. The consequence of free sexual activity within a society inevitably leads to pregnancy and when this happens outside the stability of marriage this is more likely to end in an abortion.
But, of course, attraction between a man and a woman is part of the natural disposition given to us by God. Therefore, Islam implements certain rules as a precaution to prevent this attraction occurring in the first instance. For example, the modest dress code and behavior of both men and women. It might seem difficult for some to understand how a Western woman can embrace the dress code of a Muslim woman. But for me I found it liberating. I no longer had to endure the unwanted glances of some man sitting opposite me on the tube.
For the first time in my life I was taken for the person I was and not for simply the way I looked or dressed. Islam is such a wide encompassing religion that this is such a small snapshot of the many things I was learning back in and which were appealing to my logic and common sense. I continued to read books and leaflets to increase my knowledge and slowly my faith grew.
However, one book that I was unable to read at this time was The Holy Qur'an. I possessed a copy in English, which I kept in a safe place but whenever I opened the front cover I was too scared to read the words and would quickly close the cover. Looking back now I can see that at this time I was in some form of denial. I knew that the Qur'an was the true word of God.
And I think that when you reach that realization you either turn away from the truth out of fear because you don't want to change your life or you wholeheartedly embrace the truth and become Muslim. But for me at that time I simply did not feel ready to make that change.
However, I was slowly changing my behavior. I stopped drinking, smoking and eating pork and would 'practice' fasting a few days during Ramadan. I struggled with the first few lines trying to get my tongue around this new language but was soon amazed at how easily the words entered my memory. I was sure that God was helping me in my learning. From that moment on I slowly learnt the majority of the prayer and began praying just one prayer a day reciting what I had learnt so far. It was at this stage that my then-boyfriend went home for the weekend.
He telephoned me from home and told me that he and his friends were going to Regents Park Mosque the next day. He asked if I would like to come with them and consider taking my shahadah i. It was strange because even though I had been researching Islam for a year or so I had never even considered taking my shahadah and 'officially' becoming Muslim. I was so scared.
I recognized the enormity and seriousness of taking such a decision. I did not want to take my shahaadah if I wasn't certain that Islam was the truth or if I thought that I wasn't ready to change my life in such a way. I knew that if I became Muslim it would be for the rest of my life. Therefore I spent that evening with all my books and leaflets sprawled out on my bed.
I anxiously read through all of them looking for something that I disagreed with or felt I could not accept -I found nothing! I also prayed to God with the incomplete prayer that I knew at that time. By the end of what seemed like a very long evening I went to bed very anxious but hoping and praying that God would guide me. I was extremely comforted when I awoke the next morning. I had had a wonderful dream and in it I was opening the door to my Muslim friends and they were greeting me with such a broad smile as if to say "You are one of us now". So my mind was made up and I became a Muslim on 5th July I married the man I met at university and we are now still happily married with children, by the grace of God.
We are both totally committed to Islam and are working hard together to raise an Islamic family, God willing. I have never regretted my decision to become Muslim even through the most testing of times. My faith has just grown from strength to strength and every day I learn something new and understand my religion even more.
My advice to all non-Muslims -do not judge Islam by looking at particular individuals or groups of Muslims but rather judge Islam by what is written in The Holy Qur'an and the numerous authentically recorded sayings of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. Only when you approach these sources with a clear and open mind can you see the truth and beauty which is Islam. As for me, my Lord hath guided me unto a straight path, a right religion, the community of Abraham, the upright, who was no idolater. Related posts from similar topics: These are offered as a means for IslamiCity to stimulate dialogue and discussion in our continuing mission of being an educational organization.
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You are blessed and an inspiration to all. This is great story.. The person who belifes in Islam will have a suceesfully and great life. We need to dedicate sum of our time to God who has created us, who has given us valuble thins eyes, ears, kidneys, etc. May allah be peace on Every This is the work of Allah s. We are guided if we are fortunate. People need to open their eyes and their hearts. We believe in the God of Jesus, and Moses and Abraham. They set our examples and we revere all the prophets.
Thank You sister for sharing your moving story. Allah SWT has opened my eyes to see that I too need to write my own story. We are alike and have some of the same experiences in coming to Islam. Topics menu will always be here, always within reach. If you see a green icon like this , it means you're already logged in! But if you see, a red iconlike this , it means you are NOT logged in. It's all color coded. We'd love it if your icon is always green.
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