JEDDAH: P.K. ABDUL GHAFOUR
A French pilgrim who recently converted to Islam and drove 7,000 km in his car with his wife to perform Umrah is now in Makkah as the guest of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for Haj.
Alexander embraced Islam and adopted his Muslim name, Hamza, after six years of search for the truth. It was the “adan,” or the call to prayer, which he heard for the first time while he was in an African country that changed his life.
“It inspired me to search for the truth. It gave me an inexplicable feeling that spread throughout my body and I stood astounded for a long time. I am very happy to have had embraced the world’s great religion,” he said.
After becoming a Muslim, his first intention was to visit Makkah to perform Umrah and it was then that Hamza set out on a journey by land and crossed 7,000 km from Morocco to Mauritania, and then Burkina Faso, reaching Niger.
“I visited the Saudi Embassy in Niger to get an Umrah visa. They informed me that the visa should be issued in advance through an agent. Embassy officials, however, promised to help me,” he said.
Hamza and his wife eagerly awaited the Umrah visa in Niger. “We prayed to God every day for our dream to come true and we had full confidence that the Almighty would help us to pray at the Grand Mosque in Makkah.”
When the issue took a long time, the two decided to return to France.
“We packed everything and took a taxi to the airport. While we were on the way, we received a call from the Saudi Embassy in Niger saying that we have been selected as one of 1,000 guest pilgrims of King Abdullah to perform Haj this year. I could not believe my ears.”
He said: “All our difficulties and problems faded away when we saw the House of God. I cried and cried standing in front of the Kaaba and thanked Allah and King Abdullah for giving me this great opportunity.”
Hamza intends to study Islamic law to gain more knowledge about the religion and spread its message among others.
He thanked the Saudi Embassy in Niger for providing assistance to him and his wife. He also commended the Saudi government for carrying out massive projects in Makkah and other holy sites for the welfare of pilgrims.