The Umrah Pilgrimage
I've just completed my Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca and what an experience it was! I've been twice before for the Umrah but every time you go back it's even more special. I hope I am one day lucky enough to go for the Hajj. For those who don't know, the Umrah is the smaller pilgrimage and can be made at any time during the year, whereas Hajj only takes place once a year and every Muslim who is physically able and can afford it is required to do this at least once in their lifetime.
This trip really was amazing because I went during Ramadan when all Muslims are required to fast between sunrise and sunset. My family were with me and it was great to go with all of them, they also made the most out of it. It's a privilege and honour to be there especially during a time like Ramadan, where Muslims are required to give in charity and increase their worship.
“I have been in Ramadan before with my brother and mum, but this time my dad and sisters were with us.”
When we first landed in Saudi Arabia we went to Medina, where the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is buried. I visited his grave and gave him a greeting of peace which everyone does when they pass by his grave.
I was there for four days and prayed all the prayers in the Prophet's mosque and opened and closed my fast there. It was incredible and seeing so many different people from different backgrounds coming together was unique, there was a great sense of brotherhood during my whole visit to Saudi Arabia.
Before I left Medina for Mecca I got changed into the Ihram, which is two white sheets that all Muslim men wear before doing the Hajj or Umrah. This is to symbolise that everyone is equal and to show solidarity and unity.
The Umrah is a time where you ask God for forgiveness and it includes making your way to the Kaaba (the symbolic House of God) and circumambulating the Kaaba, known as Tawaf, before praying and making supplications to God.
You then make what is known as Sa'ee, which is running between the two hills called Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, just like the Prophet Abraham's wife Hagar did when she was looking for water for her son Ismail.
At the end you make another supplication to God before getting your head shaved - and as you can see my hair has gone! I'm sure it will be back soon enough though!
Landmarks in Mecca
While I was in Mecca I visited all the significant landmarks that are important to Muslims. I saw the Cave of Hira where Prophet received his first revelation and Jannatul Mualla where a lot of the family of the Prophet are buried, including his first wife Khadija.
I hope you guys like the page we have created on the site about the visit so it gives you some insight into what takes place when a Muslim makes pilgrimage.
For me it was a great personal experience and my faith helps me a lot in my life. My parents, sisters and brother also had an unforgettable time and I made sure I prayed for all my fans who are always behind me!
All the best Amir Khan