Hajj – The biggest Spritual Journey on Earth

Peace be upon you!

Nearly three million (30 Lakhs) Muslims from around the world, chanting “Here I am at Thy service O Lord, here I am. Here I am at Thy service and Thou hast no partners. Thine alone is All Praise and All Bounty, and Thine alone is The Sovereignty. Thou hast no partners.” ” and raising their hands to heaven, marched through a desert valley outside Mecca in Saudi Arabia today on the first day of the annual hajj pilgrimage.

Dressed in seamless white robes symbolising the equality of mankind under God, the pilgrims hiked through the eight-mile valley to Mina, starting a series of rituals in which they cleanse themselves of sin.

“For us it is a vacation away from work and daily life to renew yourself spiritually, ” said Ahmed Karkoutly, an American doctor from Brownsville, Texas. “You feel you part of a universe fulfilling God’s will. It’s a cosmic motion, orbiting the Kaaba.”

Former Priest Describes His ‘Spiritual Journey’

Arab News

Ali Guatemala

JEDDAH, 29 December 2007 — Many new Muslims came to perform Haj this year to strengthen their faith by undertaking the spiritual journey. Some came as guests of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, some with the financial support of philanthropists and charitable organizations and others on their own.

Ali Guatemala, a former priest, came to perform Haj along with 17,000 other US Muslims.

According to a report in Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Severedoo Royes (Ali’s Christian name) was attracted to Islam after he read the opening verse in the chapter Al-Baqara (The Cow) of the Holy Qur’an.

He said conversion to Islam had changed his whole life. “After graduating from the seminary, I worked as a priest in Queen City, southern United States, and I used to engage in missionary work inside prisons,” said Ali.

In order to improve his missionary skills, Royes started reading books on other religions, including the Holy Qur’an. “It was a turning point in my life,” he said.

“When I read the first verse of Chapter Al-Baqara: ‘This Book, there is no doubt in it, is a guidance to the pious,’ it struck my mind. I pondered about this verse, which gave me the impression that the author was speaking clearly and definitely without having any doubt.”

Ali said he had found a lot of contradictions in Christianity while studying at the seminary, adding that senior priests were unable to provide satisfactory answers to his questions.

“They advised me not to read the Qur’an, branding it Satan’s work. This increased my interest in the Qur’an and I found that it was not the work of a human being,” he said.

“”As time passed by I became increasingly convinced that the Qur’an is truly a divine revelation, inimitable and impossible to be the work of any human being.
“I went through a turbulent period of inner conflict but I was firm in my prayers that the Almighty should guide me to the true religion. “

Guatemala prayed to God to show him the right path. “One day, when I left home I found a man in thobe going to the mosque for prayer. His name was Salim Baaqeel. I went with him to the mosque and noticed that there are no ceremonial rituals in Muslim prayers as in Christianity… After that I visited the mosque daily for a week,” he explained.

“While I was sitting in the mosque, a person came to me and offered to teach me how to do ‘wudu’ (ablution). I thought that it was a kind of black magic but he explained to me that it was for purification before prayer. On that day I declared my decision to embrace Islam at the mosque,” he added.

Ever since he became a Muslim, Ali has been facing a lot of pressure from his family, including his sister, who is Jewish. “She used to frighten me by saying that Muslims would kill me… Her attitude changed after she observed positive changes in my life. When I informed her about my plan to perform Haj, she asked me to bring a souvenir from Makkah for her,” he said.

Haj was a wonderful experience for Guatemala. “I consider this spiritual journey as the best days in my life. It gave me great pleasure when I learned that the places where I spent during Haj had the footprints of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). I cannot explain my strong feelings when I saw the Holy Kaaba for the first time with my naked eyes.”

Abdul Qader, Abdul Rahman and Abdul Raheem — three former African priests — also performed Haj this year. They converted to Islam after they understood the truthfulness of the religion during a debate with a preacher called Qamar Hussein.

The debate, attended by 5,000 people, led to 147 people embracing Islam, according to Al-Jazriah Arabic daily.

The former priests said they were enthralled seeing the amazing scenes of unity and equality among Muslims during the Haj. They came to perform Haj with the support of the Riyadh-based International Authority for Introducing Islam.

“It’s good news that these three priests came to the fold of Islam as a result of the efforts of one of our preachers,” said Saleh Abdul Wahid, the authority’s executive director.

There is no doubt
[003:025] But how (will they fare) when we gather them together against a day about which there is no doubt, and each soul will be paid out just what it has earned, without (favour or) injustice?

[004:087] God! There is no god but He: of a surety He will gather you together against the Day of Judgment, about which there is no doubt. And whose word can be truer than God’s?

[006:012] Say: “To whom belongeth all that is in the heavens and on earth?” Say: “To God. He hath inscribed for Himself (the rule of) Mercy. That He will gather you together for the Day of Judgment, there is no doubt whatever. It is they who have lost their own souls, that will not believe.

[010:037] This Quran is not such as can be produced by other than God; on the contrary it is a confirmation of (revelations) that went before it, and a fuller explanation of the Book – wherein there is no doubt – from the Lord of the worlds.

[017:099] See they not that God, Who created the heavens and the earth, has power to create the like of them (anew)? Only He has decreed a term appointed, of which there is no doubt. But the unjust refuse (to receive it) except with ingratitude.

[018:021] Thus did We make their case known to the people, that they might know that the promise of God is true, and that there can be no doubt about the Hour of Judgment. Behold, they dispute among themselves as to their affair. (Some) said, “Construct a building over them”: Their Lord knows best about them: those who prevailed over their affair said, “Let us surely build a place of worship over them.”

[032:002] (This is) the Revelation of the Book in which there is no doubt,- from the Lord of the Worlds.

[042:007] Thus have We sent by inspiration to thee an Arabic Quran: that thou mayest warn the Mother of Cities and all around her,- and warn (them) of the Day of Assembly, of which there is no doubt: (when) some will be in the Garden, and some in the Blazing Fire.

[043:061] And (Jesus) shall be a Sign (for the coming of) the Hour (of Judgment): therefore have no doubt about the (Hour), but follow ye Me: this is a Straight Way.

[045:026] Say: “It is God Who gives you life, then gives you death; then He will gather you together for the Day of Judgment about which there is no doubt”: But most men do not understand.

[045:032] “And when it was said that the promise of God was true, and that the Hour- t here was no doubt about its (coming), ye used to say, ‘We know not what is the hour: we only think it is an idea, and we have no firm assurance.'”

[074:031] And We have set none but angels as Guardians of the Fire; and We have fixed their number only as a trial for Unbelievers,- in order that the People of the Book may arrive at certainty, and the Believers may increase in Faith,- and that no doubts may be left for the People of the Book and the Believers, and that those in whose hearts is a disease and the Unbelievers may say, “What symbol doth God intend by this ?” Thus doth God leave to stray whom He pleaseth, and guide whom He pleaseth: and none can know the forces of thy Lord, except He and this is no other than awarning to mankind.

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