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British ambassador to Saudi Arabia converts to Islam and completes Hajj pilgrimage

It is believed Simon Collis may be the first British ambassador to undertake the pilgrimage

Siobhan Fenton
Social Affairs Correspondent
Friday 16 September 2016 14:27 BST
More than two million Muslims make the journey to Mecca each year
More than two million Muslims make the journey to Mecca each year (AFP/Getty)

The British ambassador to Saudi Arabia has completed the Hajj pilgrimage after converting to Islam.

It is believed Simon Collis may be the first British ambassador to perform the holy trip. He was photographed at the pilgrimage site wearing white robes traditionally worn for the pilgrimage. He was pictured alongside his wife Huda Mujarkech in photos posted to Twitter. He has since revealed he converted to the faith shortly before their marriage in 2011.

Saudi Arabian writer Fawziah Albakr posted the photos to Twitter. She wrote in Arabic: “First British ambassador to the Kingdom undertakes the Hajj following his conversion to Islam. Simon Collis with his wife Huda in Mecca. Praise be to God.”

Mr Collis tweeted in Arabic that after living among Muslim cultures for thirty years he had converted to Islam prior to his marriage.

Well wishers tweeted their congratulations to Mr Collis and his wife, to which he replied “Thank you and Eid Mubarak”, wishing them a blessed Eid festival.

The ambassador has been based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital, since 2015. He has previously been posted to Syria, Iraq, India, Qatar, UAE, Tunisia and Yemen.

Hajj pilgrims pray at the Kabaa in Saudi Arabia

The Hajj pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam and believers have a duty to complete the trip to the holy site in their lifetime. The annual pilgrimage lasts five days and took place between 9 and 14 September. It is estimated that 1.8 million Muslim pilgrims in Saudi Arabia completed it this year.

It is estimated that 1.6 billion people worldwide are Muslim. In the UK, Islam is the second largest religion, with 2.7 million believers, or 4.5 per cent of the total population.

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