New Muslim women honored in Jeddah

Updated 27 November 2013
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New Muslim women honored in Jeddah

Eight new Muslim women from different countries were honored at a reception in Jeddah recently. Some of the reverts have recently embraced Islam while a few of them are a year old to Islam.
Moulana Hifzur Rehman Seoharvi Academy, an organization that aims to preach and spread Islam in the Kingdom, had organized the welcome reception.
Organizers and attendees welcomed them and gave them gifts. The new Muslims coming from different communities narrated their experiences of their trials and tribulations on their way to embracing Islam. The newly reverted Muslim sisters were Wajida Bano (the old name Vijay Lakshmi), Shaikh Fatima, Zahida Bano, Alia Baker (earlier Jeannine Baker), Fatima Faheem (old name Binu), Dr. Bindu, Zainab (Shruti) and Muna (Mona).
Dr. Bindu (she didn’t change her name) told everyone how she came "from darkness to the light of Islam" and her trials and tribulations while leaving her husband, house and family for the sake of Islam to be a true Muslim.
She shared her miseries and obstacles with everyone "to encourage those who wanted to revert to Islam but are still confused and those who are born Muslims but forgot their responsibilities."
“When I came here I was a very religious Hindu who always looked to worship her lord. I found it difficult to be here, as people I saw don’t pray to many gods, as Hindus do. But when I saw people worshiping only one Allah, it touched my heart,” she explained.
She further said that she developed an interest in her heart to know more about Islam. With the help of a Muslim colleague and friend she start reading the Qur’an and listening to Muslim scholars.
“My knowledge about Muslims was not correct. In fact, many Muslims living in India also don’t have correct information about Islam. I went to India to see my sick mother and I talked with my husband. In the beginning he agreed to my acceptance of Islam. He had no problem, but when we reached India, he changed. I had no other alternative but to leave him and my home and come back to Kingdom with my daughter who was my real inspiration in fighting back to stay on the right path,” she said.
Another new Muslim, Fatima Faheem (Binu) said that she was studying in a university where she had a Muslim friend. One day he asked her about the meaning of 'namaste' (a common greeting in the Subcontinent). As she couldn’t answer, she with the aim to corner him asked about the meaning of Assalamu Alaikum, which he replied by saying it meant 'peace be upon you.' The answer came as a surprise to her.
“I was shocked by the answer. I met his family who were very religious. Slowly I started learning about Islam. It was very difficult to convince my family that I wanted to marry a Muslim man. My whole family was against the decision but later gradually I succeeded in convincing my dad. He gave me to my husband in marriage. I learned about the Qur’an and its meanings from him and his family. I tried to convince my father to accept Islam, unsuccessfully though, but I succeeded in bringing my younger sister to the fold of Islam,” she said.
The program was graced by Alia Baker (Jeannie Baker) as chief guest. Others who attended the function included Seema Malik, Umme Khalid, Ayesha Surati and Chaudhary Shahbaz.
“I never knew how new Muslim sisters sacrificed their families and husbands. I am very lucky because I am married to a Saudi who helped me understand Islam. My family was very accepting, so Allah made my path very easy,” explained Alia Baker.
Umme Fakeha Zinjani, incharge of women’s wing of the academy, gave the vote of thanks.


Height of adventure: Treading the ‘Edge of the World’ near Riyadh

Updated 19 April 2018
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Height of adventure: Treading the ‘Edge of the World’ near Riyadh

  • Cliffs in Tuwaiq were formed as a result of the movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast because of the spread of the Red Sea rift
  • Several prominent Saudi tour companies offer daylong excursions to the site

Thrill seekers and fitness gurus all over the Kingdom will be pleased to know that their choices for weekend activities have increased. 

Several tour operators in Riyadh have started offering trips to the area known as the Edge of the World, making the location more accessible than ever.

With the country’s obesity rates on the rise and many citizens growing more concerned about their physical health and stress levels, people are seeking ways to maintain their fitness without having to restrict themselves to the monotony of a gym routine.

One such solution that has steadily increased in popularity over the past year is hiking, which many have embraced as being much more exciting and fulfilling than spending hours on the treadmill. And most popular of all for hiking and other fitness activities in a natural setting is the magnificent landmark of Jabal Fihrayn, more commonly known as the Edge of the World.

Described as a “window framed by rock,” the Edge of the World offers stunning views of the valley below, a lush grove of acacia trees teeming with wildlife and vegetation. The spot is well-known for being a favorite of visiting picnickers.

Hikers can choose from several trails of varying levels of difficulty, making their way to the top of the Tuwaiq escarpment to take in the magnificent views at the top of the trail, where the colossal cliff faces drop off to reveal the dizzying height from the valley below. In addition to the rich wildlife unique to the location, you can also find samples of fossilized coral and raw mineral deposits in certain areas of the valley.

The cliffs in the areas were formed as a result of the tectonic movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast because of the spread of the Red Sea rift situated 1,000 km to the west of Tuwaiq.

Due to the increasing popularity of the site, the authorities have built a hardtop that leads to the gates of the sites and arrangements are in place to protect the area and its natural treasures. 

Several prominent Saudi tour companies offer daylong excursions to the site. The more intrepid explorer also has the option to go alone; though past visitors recommend that solo travelers take an all-terrain, 4x4 vehicle and extra precaution. Visitors can spend the day at the site and leave before 6 p.m. (when the gates are closed for the night) or stay behind for a night of camping to enjoy the sunset and the breathtaking celestial views of a star-studded night sky.

Nora Alfard, amateur hiking enthusiast and two-time visitor to the location, was quick to offer praise about her trip. 

“The trip out there was a bit tiring, but totally worth it,” she said. “The views are stunning, and the hiking itself is not that difficult. Most people should be able to make it to the top without too much trouble.” She said she was likely to go a third time, and encouraged others to do the same.

The Edge of the World is roughly 100km northwest of Riyadh, about 1.5 hours’ drive from the capital. Visitors should be prepared for at least 30 minutes of hiking, possibly more depending on your trail and your level of fitness and experience. Previous visitors recommend bringing water and snacks, and stress the importance of dressing appropriately — hiking shoes only!

Decoder

What is hiking?

Hiking means a long, vigorous walk, usually on trails in the countryside. Day hikers generally carry at least food, a map or a GPS navigation device.