« And proclaim unto mankind the Pilgrimage. They will come unto thee on foot and on every lean camel; theywill come from every deep ravine »(Qur’an: 22.27)

A spiritual retreat and a cultural quest of progressive, reformist Muslims

What is it?

Let’s live together a spiritual retreat and a cultural quest, at the roots of our Islamic
faith, in company of inclusive Muslim brothers and sisters. The aim of this trip is to offer
participants a unique experience, filling them of positive energy, at the source of the Islamic culture

Who is it?

The Tawhid ‘Omra inclusive group is made of inclusive, progressive, reformist Muslims,
supporters of an appeased, egalitarian and non-sexist representation of Islam. We will be
accompanied in this quest, inch’Allah, by a great woman of contemporary Islam:
Dr. Amina Wadud – who is an Imam, a theologian and a Hadja-, that throughout the journey shall embody with us the peaceful share of the Islamic spiritual quest.
This proposal has been done to several inclusive Muslim sisters and brothers around
the world.

First recommendation letter

Dear Sister and Brother Pilgrims,
As-Salaamu Alaykum wa Rahmatu-Lahi wa Barakatuhu

We are well into the preparatory steps for the logistics of our journey to Makkah and
Madinah Munawwarah (the enlighten). Sometimes negotiating with the “officials” of the Kingdom of
Saudi Arabia can be tedious. It saved me a great deal of head ache, when I traveled for hajj two years ago, that traveling to the Kingdom is not the same as traveling to serve The King, Allah. Thus, there is an inner and an outer journey. Surely Allah has control over both! What frustrations we may face on the outer may well help us to embrace fully the merits of the inner.
Over the next few weeks, I will write a weekly not e. It will include some recommendations
about those outer logistics but mostly to help us THINK through the purpose of this journey and what we might face in making the most of our time there.
I write with the assumption that this is the first time for many of you. Anyone who has
already been there please, make additional recommendations so that we can, altogether have the
most beneficial journey. Then, together we can focus on that inner journey. In sha’ Allah.

Why Go to Makkah and Madinah?

Allah is everywhere, at all times and for all persons. Do NOT make the mistake of thinking
you will go to these two cities to find God. However , the inner world is aligned with the outer world.
From the time of the Prophet Muhammad, (SAW) more than one thousand four hundred years ago,
Muslims have turned their hearts and bodies to face the kaabah in prayer and prostration. Since
prayer times are dispersed through-out the day across the globe, this really means that for every
minute of every day, some one is facing the kaabah in remembrance of Allah.
Few Muslims enter into the court yard in Mekkah, with the simple and rustic cube shaped
structure, without being overcome with the sheer energy of this collective remembrance. So, we go
to be reminded. To bring all of our struggles and our successes in encountering Allah in our daily lives and in special occasions to this spot. We go to she d all pretenses that matters of the outer world are more important than matters of the heart. We go to bear our hearts to this ultimate truth for ourselves and hopefully for all of our life that is to come afterwards. We hope to bring back
something from this raw encounter to our lives once we live the sacred territories.
There are two major rituals we must perform when we are in Makkah. Tawaf:

circumambulate the kaabah 7 times, counter clock wise, upon our first entrance into Masjid al-haram and before we leave the city; followed then by sa’iy: walking/running seven times between the two foothills Safa and Marwa. Both of these can be physically challenging, so I will be making some recommendations. It would spoil the whole thing if we are careless about the physical part of it, in our enthusiasm for the spiritual part of it.
My first recommendations are regarding pre-umrah preparations. This journey will center
on the performance of salah. There are some historical sites we will probably visit, as well, but mostly our early morning, day and evening will be taking a dvantage of the opportunity to pray where the Inclusive ‘omra Prophet prayed. There are special barakat to having
this opportunity and I will describe these but it helps if we reconnect with our own prayer and bring
that with us. Think of it like an athlete who gets ready for the Olympics by getting into shape. If so
me of us have become a little lax in keeping up our practices, we might want to bring them back into focus.
In addition, the distance between the hills of Safa and Marwa when completed 7 times, is
the equivalent of almost 4 kilometers. If any of us is just a little out of shape, it might help to be
gin walking on a regular basis, so that, again, the outward aspect of the ritual does not prevent us from seeing clearly the inward aspect of the ritual.

Some people prefer to do the tawaf on the second a nd third floor of the mosque because it
is less crowded. We will discuss the merits of tawaf close to the kaabah and tawaf like this a little
later. At this juncture I only wish to suggest that we need to get both our spiritual life and our
physical life in order BEFORE we leave our homes. There is no better time than the present to get
started.
For those who have been completely lax with performing salah, a simple formula: start by
choosing one salah that you will not miss, every day. You can add any of the 5 other obligatory salah as opportunity provides but at least look at this a s a practice such that you will never miss at least this one salah, over the next week. Then each week add one more to your schedule that you never miss. Our combination-life style sacred and profane sometimes allows us to justify missing or postponing salah. In preparation for the maximum experience at Makkah and Madinah we want to move beyond excuses, real or contrived. It is easiest for most people to make this one sal
ah, the night prayer, ‘isha. Every night before you go to sleep, make your ablutions, or wud
u and perform your salah. Working up to performing those day-time salah, especially during
the busy work day does have some additional challenges of place and time when we live amongst others who are not Muslim, so I recommend one of the “at-home” prayer times to begin to put your house in order.  …(next week 2/4)