Simon Collis, the British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia has confirmed, via his Twitter page that he is now officially a Muslim.
Collis performed the Hajj, the ritual pilgrimage to Mecca all Muslims must perform at least once in their lives. The British ambassador and his wife, Huda, were seen wearing the traditional Ihram attire, the clothes pilgrims must wear during the Hajj.
Collins is the first high-ranking British official to convert to Islam and perform the sacred pilgrimage. Some believe the ambassador decided to convert to Islam in order to marry his partner, Huda. The two can be officially married only if they are both Muslims.
On his Twitter page, Collis wrote in Arabic, “God bless you. In brief: I converted to Islam after 30 years of living in Muslim societies and before marrying Huda”
Collis became the British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia last year. Before that, he had served in numerous other Middle Eastern countries, including Iraq, Syria Qatar, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates.
Saudi Arabians were very happy to hear the news of his conversion. Following the announcement, his Twitter page was flooded with praises and congratulatory messages.
British Ambassador Converted to Islam in 2011
Collis had converted to Islam shortly before marrying his current wife Huda. However, not many were aware of this fact. His pilgrimage to Mecca confirmed the fact that he is now a Muslim.
The Foreign Office has also confirmed his conversion. However, they declined to make any other further comments. Since this is a matter of personal belief and religion, they are not at liberty to discuss it.
The British ambassador himself, although he did confirm the news, refused to discuss it any further.
The Hajj is one of the most important rituals in Islamic culture. All able-bodied men must perform the journey at least once. Their destination is the city of Mecca, where, according to the Koran, Mohammed received his first revelation.
The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. These pillars are rituals all Muslims must perform. The other four are Shahada (Faith), Salat (Prayer), Zakat (Charity) and Sawm (Fasting). Some Muslims can be exempt from the last three, if their health or financial situation doesn’t allow them to honor these pillars. The same goes for the Hajj.
This year, nearly 1.8 million people travelled to Mecca, including thousands of British Muslims. The sheer size of the crowds has raised some safety concerns. Last year, a mass stampede killed thousands of people. And after reaching the mosque in Mecca, pilgrims must perform a ritual known as the “stoning of the Devil”, during which they throw pebbles at three stone walls. The ritual can become quite dangerous, with errant stones flying into the tightly-packed crowd.
In recent years, the British Muslims have had a rather precarious position within British society. This year saw two major breakthroughs that would seem to indicate the British are starting to warm up to their Muslim citizens. In May, London elected its first Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan. Now, a high-ranking British official has converted to Islam.
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