British Ambassador converts to Islam, performs Haj with wife

MINA: Among the 19,000 British pilgrims performing Haj this year was British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Simon Paul Collis and his wife Huda Mujarkech.

It was known to some diplomats and journalists that he had embraced Islam but there had been no official word.
The confirmation came on Tuesday in the form of a tweet from Saudi writer and academic Fawziah Al-Bakr (@fawziah1).
She posted two photos of Ambassador Collis and his wife in which he was wearing ihram.
The ambassador replied to the post by thanking Al-Bakr via his official Twitter handle (@HMASimonCollis). The ambassador’s wife (@HudaMCollis) retweeted Al-Bakr’s post.
Though Collis refused media requests for interviews on Wednesday, he said: “I have converted to Islam after being in Muslim societies for 30 years, and right before getting married to Huda.”
Collis has served as British ambassador to Saudi Arabia since January last year when Sir John Jenkins retired from the diplomatic service. The photos went viral on Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, sending social media into overdrive.
Among the first who congratulated the ambassador and his wife was Princess Basmah bint Saud (@PrincessBasmah).

“Special congratulations to the ambassador and his wife,” wrote Princess Basmah.
“Thank you, Princess Basmah,” replied the ambassador.

British pilgrims were pleasantly surprised by the news.

“I would like to congratulate the ambassador on the historic occasion of his completion of Haj,” said Rashid Mogradia, CEO of the Council of British Hajis (CBHUK). “He is one of many thousands of British pilgrims to perform the journey of faith and we look forward to him sharing his experience and inspiring us all,” Mogradia added.

At a time when there is so much adverse publicity against Islam and Muslims, especially in the West, the ambassador’s embrace of Islam was seen by the faithful as a vindication of the religion’s universal appeal. 

Collis speaks fluent Arabic. He joined the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1978 and, after studying Arabic, has served mainly in the Arab world.

A father of five children, his first posting was to Bahrain as second secretary (1981-1984). He served as British ambassador to Iraq (2012-2014), Syria (2007-2012) and Qatar (2005-2007). He was the British consul-general in Dubai (2000-2004) and in Basra (2004-2005). He also served in New Delhi as first secretary from 1991 to 1994.

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Khana Ghar by Parveen Saeed ; Rs. 3 for a meal!

With millions living under the poverty line in Pakistan, Khana Ghar (The home of food) strives to provide food at affordable price to the needy.

Parveen Saeed, who holds a master’s degree in journalism, has been running the project for almost 23 years, providing food to the poor of Karachi at an affordable price.
Recounting how it all started, Saeed said she used to take home-cooked food to these localities where one could get a square meal for just Rs3. Explaining the concept behind charging a minimal amount for food, Saeed said it was to make sure that people who ate there did not take the meals for granted, and would strive to earn the food for themselves and their families.
The menu at Khana Ghar keeps changing, sometimes it is lentils (daal), sometimes its vegetables, on other days its beans while, Sunday is reserved as meat day.
First established in Surjani Town, the project was shifted to Khuda ki basti only a year later. Food is also delivered to poor localities like Vehari, Gulshan-e-Subhani Phase II, where as many as 300 people are fed on daily basis.
“Never thought this would become such a huge project that people will recognise it by name, as people are coming together and contributing towards the project,” exclaims Saeed.
She says that they are trying to build Khana Ghars in all the poor localities of Karachi.
Saeed added that if government wants, it can carry out a similar project very easily. “Every year billions of rupees are collected under Zakat deduction, government also have the Baitul Maal (the welfare fund) which it can utilise to provide food and ration to the needy ones.”
For those wanting to contribute, Khana Ghar bank details are as follows.
Allied Bank
Account Name: Khana Ghar
Account number: 01-200-4891-8
Branch code: 0160
Swift Code: ABPAPKKA
IBAN: PK57ABPA0001600120048918


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