Saudi Arabia – My Visit
Home of Mecca. Home of Muhammad. Home of Ramadan and the Hajj.
There are two parallel stories here; one is the business trip with dad; the other is the impact of Islam on me as a result of experiencing Saudi Arabia, personally, during Ramadan.
I was very fortunate in 1987 to visit Saudi Arabia with my dad while on a business trip. This was very different from the norm, as most people couldn’t get access to this country. Because of our business association with this country, we were needed to check a mining plant out.
We had to have been invited by one of the princes before entering. Our trip was based on Dad’s special designed rock salt dredge. These dredges were primarily used for mineral sands mining, but for the Saudis, the dredge was adapted to suit rock salt lakes, no mean feat. Back then the Saudis needed their rock salt mined, and dad’s designed dredge was hugely successful. Our visit was to check how it was operating, it having been built in Australia and shipped to Saudi Arabia a couple of years beforehand. Dad examined the dredge and mining plant and gave the operation a clean bill of health report.
Before entering Saudi Arabia, a mostly desert country, we had to get our passports stamped in Bahrein before crossing the 25km bridge into Saudi Arabia. We were driven by a Saudi driver to El Jabail where we stayed and which was close to the dredge.
The most remarkable spiritual experience for me was being awoken just before sunrise with the first call to prayer of that day. We were in the Islamic month of Ramadan where all followers, except the sick and elderly, needed to fast during the day. Those who can, also make their at least once a lifetime expectation pilgrimage to Mecca for the Hajj. This call to prayer occurs five times each day of the year in Muslim countries.
Personally and spiritually, this had a massive impact on me. I had thought before this that my prayer life was going well. Then I experienced this, and it actually blew me away. I realised how much more I should be doing. How much more I should be including God directly in my life. To see God as so important, that multiple daily prayers are so strongly desired, enhances our personal spirituality and closeness with the One God of this world. It was a definite eye opener for one so integrally a part of the western societal place of religion . To be fully surrounded by everything Islamic was a major challenge for me, but a most beautiful opportunity. So much positivity and growth have come out of this experience for me and my spirituality and religious practice and beliefs.
(Image - A mosque in Saudi Arabia we passed in 1987)
Copyright text and image © Bryan Foster, 1987 & 2019
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