August 22 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
A group of women has gained special permission to visit Saudi Arabia for a pilgrimage of a lifetime.
The 20 members of Redbridge Disabled Women’s Welfare Association are spending two weeks visiting the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
They are going on Umrah, which is the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. The word means visit.
The women, the majority of whom are elderly or disabled, left from Clements Road, Ilford, on Friday.
Abida Iqbal, chairman of association, organised the trip and said they were all extremely excited about the pilgrimage.
“We often go on trips but this one is very special. It’s every Muslim’s dream to go, and all of the women are really looking forward to it.”
The group will spend five days in Mecca before going to Medina for another five days.
“It’s going to be amazing,” Ms Iqbal said. “When you’re there, you close your eyes and feel that God is in front of you. You always feel very lucky to be there and very close to God.”
Ms Iqbal said: “It’s going to be hard work looking after all the group but I’m used to it. I’m so happy and even more excited.”
At Mecca, the women will walk around the Kaaba, a large cube, seven times.
It is believed the site was where angels built the first house of God before the arrival of Adam and Eve.
The Kaaba, also known as the Sacred House, is a structure in the centre of Islam’s most sacred mosque and is considered the most sacred location in Islam.
When Muslims pray, they do so facing the direction of the Kaaba.