Al-Rihlah: Reviving the Hajj Experience


By Imran Ghani

Link to Website: http://alrihlah.org/

Link to LaunchGood: https://www.launchgood.com/projects/project_detail/al-rihlah.html

Link to Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1dPP2uDgn0

Our Story

CalvinandHobbs

Me: Omar, now that you’ve graduated from college and are working now, what do you want to do?

Omar: I think it’s time we perform Hajj, bro. But let’s do it a little differently.

Me: What do you have in mind?

My brother, Omar, and I often look back at the conversation we had in the summer of 2013 and smile, shaking our heads in disbelief. Our daydreams led us to conversations that went on late into the night, which led to sketching cross-country maps from various parts of the Earth, which then somehow led to the formation of a team whose sole intention and goal is to perform the sacred ritual of Hajj in a very unique way…

 Kaba

The Adventure of a Lifetime

Al-Rihlah

Al-Rihlah is a project that was inspired by the stories of people in the past traveling to the holy city of Mecca to perform the sacred ritual of Hajj. We are a group of young American Muslims who wish to perform Hajj by riding our bicycles from Rome, Italy to Mecca.

Due to the modern forms of transportation and luxuries we enjoy today, we feel that a big part of the Hajj experience is missing. We hope to revive the traditions of the past by embarking on this physically challenging and spiritually rejuvenating voyage. Plus, young people are always looking for an adventure!

The Plan

God willing, in July 2015 we will set out on our 60 day trip from Rome and cycle over 3,000 miles to the holy city of Jerusalem. From there, we will put on our ritual garments and travel to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj. In between we will cross various countries. It is our hope to regularly share our experiences throughout the ride through blog entries, photography, video, etc. to inspire the Muslim Ummah (community) to do amazing things in their lives.

ThePlan

Our bicycles will act as our horses as we prepare for the many challenges Mother Nature has to offer. As it has been done in the past, we will be carrying our luggage and equipment on our backs, relying on the resources God has provided us on Earth to sustain ourselves as well as the assistance of people we meet along the way.

TheMap

 

Meet the Team

Click on the images below to learn more about the team behind Al-Rihla:

 Team1

Team2

Our Goals

We hope to accomplish two simple things by embarking on this journey:

  1. To cause a reform in the way Hajj is performed, one that allows more spiritual preparation through contemplating the majesty of Allah’s creation and meeting new people on this journey.
  2. To do something, with the support of our community, to inspire the Muslim Ummah that when we work together we achieve amazing things.

Connect With Us!

As we prepare for our epic trip we hope for your prayers, words of advice & encouragement, and spreading of the word. The following are ways you can help us achieve our dream:

  • Al-Rihlah is currently running an online crowd-sourcing campaign to help fund it.  Information about the project, and how to support, can be found at https://www.launchgood.com/projects/project_detail/al-rihlah
  • Use the social media sharing tools under our video to spread the word!
  • Stay up to date on our journey by liking us on Facebook and following on Twitter.
  • Join our emailing list and visit our website at  www.alrihlah.org.
  • Tweet, message, or email us your words of encouragement and support. It’s going to be a tough ride!
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7 Comments

  1. Fez says:

    sounds awesome! certainly provides a great panoramic intro before the spiritual experience of the Hajj,

    Cycling in summer will be a pretty tough endeavour; is it medically safe? What made you guys select Rome as a starting point?

    Anyways, if you can survive a bike ride in saudi in summer, the pilgrimage itself will probably be a piece of cheesecake.

    • Imran Ghani says:

      Assalamualaikum Fez! Thank you so much for the well wishes. We really need all the dua we can get.

      We will be riding the coast and insha’Allah will stop cycling in Jodan so we won’t be doing any riding in the desert heat of Saudi.

      Basically we chose Rome and the series of countries because they are the safest when it comes to US passport holder friendliness. Plus we needed a route we could successfully pull of in 60 days without too much exertion. The route is still very rough though and very open to changing.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • samia massy says:

      great idea :)

  2. Saniyya Noor says:

    This sounds like a great idea. With the Gujrati fellows and the Bosnian who biked from Hajj, it’s about time we had some Americans do the trip on bike as well!

    I have a couple of questions:

    1. When you say, ‘to cause a spiritual reform’… what does that mean? I know before I went to Hajj and even my friends, we were anticipating performing the trip for quite some time. When we were saving up for it (thousands of dollars), every time we sacrificed going to Starbucks or a side vacation, we did it for Hajj, which is a spiritual preparation/reform. What does your trip bring to the table?

    2. With modern transportation, at our disposal, people no longer have to fall ill, pass away, and struggle to the extremes when traveling for hajj. It’s a much safer journey now, because of airplanes and vehicles. Why should we go back to camels, slow transport, and WEEKS of travel just to perform Hajj. Doesn’t that, in fact, make hajj much more difficult?

    3. With millions of people performing hajj every year, you can’t bring about more awareness than that, and we can show several masajid projects, interfaith, charitable projects, and sporting events display several people coming together to work for the common good. The mere fact that millions of people from different languages, tribes, ethnicities, nationalities, and all walks of life come together to perform hajj, and the bonds of friendship which are created over there show that we can work together. What does this bring to the table that 1400 years of unity from diversity hasn’t?

    4. One of your headings in the articles says “Adventure of a lifetime”. Are you essentially asking donations from Muslims to pay for an adventurous trip? Generally, when a group asks for a donation, there is some greater purpose.

    I’m asking some tough questions, mostly because you’re soliciting donations, and I’m really hoping you can answer them thoroughly. This sounds like a really fun trip, and something you nor anyone else could every forget!

    • Imran Ghani says:

      Assalamualaikum Saniyya Noor,

      Yeah! we were totally inspired by the stories of people cycling to Hajj. My grandfather actually hitch hiked when he was young from India and he had some amazing stories. Let me attempt to answer your questions. Honestly they have been very good for us, exposing areas we need to be more clear on when presenting ourselves.

      1. So a bike ride is just one of the ways we hope to inspire people to take the preparatory phase of Hajj more seriously. I am a huge fan of mother nature and it is the single most iman boosting thing in my eyes, as mentioned in the Quran about nature being among the signs of God’s existence.

      2. I wouldn’t say we are encouraging others to do what we are. We are alhumdulillah young able bodied men who are looking for an adventure and having already done some cross country bike rides we feel this is the best way for us personally to prepare for Hajj. On a more personal note I, like many who I’ve spoke to, think that Hajj has become far to commercialized today and the luxuries offered distract the pilgrim from full worship. This is of course up for discussion and a bike ride again isn’t the way we think all people should do it. BUT DO SOMETHING that allows you to disconnect from the internet, social media, vacationing, vain talk, and all other things that threaten to dilute the potential reward offered for the one who performs Hajj.

      3. As mentioned in the article, I think our project brings back what people experienced when traveling for months to perform Hajj. aH Umer will be a medical doctor by the time we are on the ride and Omar is working diligently to design a route that keeps us close to cities. At the end of the day we are looking to create a unique documentary film that inspires people to be excited about Hajj. Tbh, right now it just seems like something we have to do and we aren’t really taught to LOVE it like we are taught to love Salah, Siyaam, etc.

      4. THIS point has been our biggest learning point as it has become obvious that we have not done a good job of explaining why we are raising funds. As seven young professionals we plan on paying for the Hajj aspect of the trip (flight, food, hajj package). What we are raising capital for is our bicycles, equipment, and cameras to film the documentary. We have sat down as a team and have realized we need to be more clear that this is a DOCUMENTARY FILM project that we hope to push out to benefit the community. Does that make sense?

      Thank you again for these questions as they only help us grow. Please let me know if you need further clarification.

      -Imran

  3. BD ACI says:

    Allhumdulillah, it sounds like you have an amazing trip planned. I would like to request that since you are interesting in meeting knew people and are also traveling through Turkey and Jordan, visit some of the Syrian refugee camps and ask the people what duas they would like for Hajj.

  4. Irene says:

    1) To my point of view and what i have gathered and understood, a spiritual reform a level of height within you to bring it up of your soul and spirits potential, of what of what you as a person is or are.Planning tris and sacrificing starbucks is nothing compared to those who time adn time and years cyces to save money may nto be planned but in all cause of life what more believe of what we keep to perform to be able for the term a better life “hijrah” supposedly a better life world but in order those who pushed in completion of visiting oneself of the past reminding or simply a completion of cycle of how it ought to be.At the end of the day that part of life that keeps in balance would determine.- at least how i perceive the outcome should be.( the patience and perseverance and others and to some to actually get Starbucks than the money of the Harrods an others..)should it end up the wrong door- towards RAj instead of HAJ….. than…

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