Moving to Saudi Arabia as an expat and Muslim is almost too good to be true. It’s like moving to the best place you can think of. I mean, where else in the world would you be so close to Mecca that visiting the Holy Mosque is not only possible, but can become a regular occurrence?
There are a lot of expectations and excitement when moving to Saudi Arabia and for the time being, I’m still in the place where everyday I wake up I think ‘wow, I’m here!’ Everything I got to experience as a Muslim went far beyond my expectations and I feel blessed that I can live here.
ISLAM IN SAUDI ARABIA
Saudi Arabia is the birth place of Islam, this is where the religion of Islam as well as its Holy book, the Qur’an, were sent to mankind by God. To this day Islam remains the only religion allowed in the Kingdom and everything is made to help Muslim live their religion in their daily lives. Saudi Arabia is also of course the place millions of Muslims from around the world converge to every year in order to perform the Pilgrimages (Umrah and Hajj).
EXPAT AND MUSLIM IN SAUDI ARABIA
Since Islam is the one and only religion allowed in Saudi Arabia, it goes without saying that Muslim and non-Muslim expats would have a totally different experience. As a non-Muslim you do have the freedom to practice a religion other than Islam (but preaching it is illegal). Other than that it is important to respect all the laws of the country and to show respect for Islam. Women and men are expected to dress modestly, to avoid eating and drinking during the month of Ramadan and they will have to wait patiently when all the shops shut down 5 times a day for prayers.
As a Muslim you will find that… well Saudi Arabia has got everything you need to live a Halal existence: banking, housing, shopping, food, dress code, prayer times, schools…. you name it, everything is done according to Sharia Law, which is also the law of the land in Saudi Arabia.
BEING A MUSLIM IN SAUDI ARABIA IS…
the best! There is no other place on Earth (that I know) where being a Muslim is so easy AND Mecca is within easy reach. The reason I opted for Jeddah when moving to Saudi Arabia is to be close to Mecca and WOW!!!! what an amazing experience: I have done Umrah many times, more than most people will do in a lifetime really and it takes under an hour to drive to the Haraam so Friday prayer can easily be done in Mecca on a weekly basis. It really doesn’t get any better than Saudi Arabia for Muslims.
During my first Ramadan, I had the opportunity to join more than 4 millions (that’s the official numbers for 2015) in doing Umrah and praying in the Holy Mosque. The funny thing is, it never feels like that many people as it is pretty quiet all the time and you don’t really crowded. We actually took the boys with us and we never has any problem alhamdulillah.
I am planning Hajj this year inshallah but in the meantime, just the fact of being in Saudi Arabia has given me a boost. When you pray you remember that the Kabaa is right here. I have been blessed enough to pray twice right in front of the Kabaa, on the ground floor. After that, praying and focusing on the Qibla becomes much easier with such a powerful and vivid picture in your mind. The Adhan in Saudi are the most beautiful I have ever heard and everyday, this is the sound that wakes me up and makes me feel totally happy I am here. When i say “ameen” in my prayers, I can still hear the millions of Muslims I prayed with at the Haraam. They are here with me, making my prayers even more intense and powerful. It’s really an amazing feeling and so far, there is nothing that come even close.
As for being in the Haraam in Mecca, this is the most uplifting, exciting and overwhelming experience of my life and I will be writing a full post about this soon.