The Kaaba a stone building at the center of Islam's most important mosque and holiest site stands behind a group of muslim women with two muslim

Umrah: A Sense of Unique Groundedness

By Ikram Muhammedsani (H’25)

Exterior of Masjid An-Nabawi.

The beauty of the sun shining on the Masjid An-Nabawi (The Prophet’s Masjid) captured by Ikram Muhammedsani (H’25)

The morning prayer, the first day we were in Medina, the city in which the Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him (PBUH) first established his community, was indescribable. Our group walked into the mosque amongst the mass of people all rushing to find a spot for prayer at the holy site. As we sat patiently the Adhan, the call to prayer, rang out. 

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar

God is Greater, God is Greater

The words sent a chill throughout my body; never had I heard the Adhan called in such a way. Loud enough for all creation for miles around—from the birds to the trees to the ants—to bear witness to the greatness of God. 

Surrounded by thousands of people from all over the world, our group of Georgetown students and trip leaders Imam Yahya Hendi, director for Muslim Life, and Sister Iman Saymeh, residential minister in LXR & Nevils, traveled from historical site to site, recounting the steps and reliving the history of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) and his companions, peace be upon them all. Hearing the call to prayer five times a day provided a grounding constant throughout our ventures as it punctuated our travels across Medina and Mecca. It served not only as a reminder of our connection to God but also of our duty to live lives fulfilling the principles He revealed to us. Although prayers remain a constant part of our lives even here on campus, being in these two holy sites offered a unique connection to the historical sites where those before us upheld these principles of justice, compassion, and truth.   

After I had gained a familiarity with the mosque, I made it a point to sometimes pray away from our group. Shoulder to shoulder with people I did not know, we all bowed in unison, in loving submission to our Lord. I wanted the opportunity to interact with people from all over the world, whose languages I didn’t share, yet whose smiles to one another conveyed an understanding deeper than words. These beautiful interactions carried over into words as well, as strangers would utter short prayers for one another. These small gestures filled something inside me—I felt a sense of shared connection, shared love, with people I had never met before. 

Two hundred miles away, a sense of stillness would settle over me during my Umrah, the minor pilgrimage in Mecca. While performing tawaf, the circumambulation of the Kaaba (the stone cube-like building at the center of the Masjid al-Haram or the Great Mosque), I contemplated deeply on my surroundings. As I walked at an even pace with my sight set on the Kaaba, I thought about how incredible the experience was, how deeply grateful I was to undergo this profound experience with those closest to me at Georgetown, strengthening our bonds with one another as we embarked on this pivotal journey in our lives.

The Kaaba a stone building at the center of Islam's most important mosque and holiest site stands behind a group of muslim women with two muslim

Georgetown Students outside the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Photo courtesy of Ikram Muhammedsani (H’25)

In the weeks since returning from my Umrah, I feel like I am still unpacking all that I have taken from the trip. Attending various reflection circles and sermons hosted by GU Muslim Life, sparked memories in my mind drawing me back to my journey and pushing me to further reflect on my time in Medina and Mecca. My Umrah has given me a new perspective. It revealed to me aspects of myself and brought to the surface traits I need to work on. Most greatly, however, the trip has allowed me to appreciate contemplation and reflection more deeply. During moments on my Umrah, when I was surrounded by hundreds, yet able to turn inwards and focus on my connection with God, I experienced a unique groundedness. I was not worrying about any upcoming deadlines or tasks, oftentimes the background buzz of life at Georgetown. I was able to pause and center myself in the moment, to separate myself from my surroundings and contemplate my actions in the past and my aspirations for the future. My Umrah has allowed me to reground myself, realign my priorities, and reframe my understanding of my time here at Georgetown, emphasizing the importance of the Islamic values of justice, compassion, and truth that the Muslims before me embodied, and that were immortalized in the history we encountered at the various sites we visited.

As I work on deepening my reliance on God, I have been able to develop a greater sense of gratitude for the countless blessings and opportunities He has placed in my life, including the ability to travel to the Kaaba. It has reminded me of the blessings I have been a recipient of through my time here at Georgetown, and what a true blessing the vibrant Muslim community on campus has been. This community has fostered my spiritual growth in ways I would have never expected when first applying to Georgetown. In my year remaining here at Georgetown, I hope to continue to unpack all that this Umrah has given me and help in sharing it with others in our community.

I pray God allows us all the opportunity to return to his house soon and have the pleasure of being His guests. 


Muslim Life