LONDON – Reflecting on the role of their religion as part of their service, ten Muslim members of the British Armed Forces have completed Hajj this year, returning to a special celebration by their leaders.
“We have learned a lot about ourselves and confirmed that Islam is not only compatible with military life, but supports the Armed Forces’ values we strive to embody,” reflected Captain Tim Rudkin, from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME).
“This journey has no rival to anything I have done before, with representatives of almost every country it is the largest gathering of people in the world, sharing common goals and values, coexisting peacefully,” he added.
Captain Rudkin is one of ten members of the British armed forces who were hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Armed Forces (KSA AF).
The group consisted of personnel from the Army and Royal Air Force who performed hajj and visited the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.
The UK personnel also met with the KSA AF’s Head of Religious Affairs Major Muhammed Al Sadan, who spoke of the importance of Hajj and Islam’s compatibility of serving in the Armed Forces.
“The military gives me the strength to become a better Muslim. My chain of command not only understand the significance of this journey, they actively encourage it as an opportunity to reflect and aim to be a better person, both in and out of the military,” said Sergeant Ahmed Dhalai, from the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD).
In a statement, the MoD said, “A diverse and inclusive force is a stronger force, and the MoD encourages and celebrates diversity, promoting an inclusive working environment.”
Muslims from around the world pour to Makkah every year to perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.
Hajj consists of several rites, which are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon them.
Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.