The British Foreign Office published a picture of British soldiers in Medina performing the rites of Hajj on its official Twitter page. In another Tweet, the FCO quoted BDR Lamin Camara, of 1 Royal Horse Artillery, who is part of the UK delegation, as saying “I am truly humbled and moved. This is only the first leg of our Hajj journey and to visit the Prophet’s Mosque and tomb was only ever a dream for me. I am indebted to my chain of command for their support in this and this experience will certainly make me a better human being, and therefore a good soldier.”
The UK Armed Forces Hajj delegation visited the holy city of Medina and was hosted by the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces. The British Consul in Jeddah Barry Beach said that “I am pleased to receive 18,500 British pilgrims performing the Hajj this year. The team at the British Consulate in Jeddah and I are ready to provide the necessary support and advice to enable British pilgrims to perform their rituals in the best conditions. Hajj is a sacred duty for every Muslim capable of doing so, and I wish everyone performing the Hajj pilgrimage this year a safe and blessed Hajj.
Imam Asim Hafiz, the UK Islamic Advisor to Chief of the Defence Staff is leading the delegation. He said “Muslims in the British Armed Forces are able to perform Hajj showing that serving within the military is compatible with Islam. Many of the moral values held by the Armed Forces are fully in tune with the Muslim faith. In my view, the opportunity for soldiers to fulfil the fifth pillar of Islam no doubt reinforces those values. These soldiers will return spiritually revitalised which will make them better at the work that they do and make them more conscious of fulfilling their responsibilities to the best of their abilities.”
Hafiz added that the delegation will be hosted by the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces as a symbol of solidarity and camaraderie between Muslims from different parts of the world, and that this will also strengthen relations between the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia.