by Naveed Mughal
At the beginning of the summer I had the opportunity to join a group of young Muslim hikers – inspired by their faith – to scale the French Alps and raise much needed funds for the British heart foundation. The group of fifteen hikers were able to raise £15,000 through the kind sponsorship of friends, family, colleagues and local businesses.
This was the second year running that members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) hiked across the Alps for charity. Last year a group of AMYA hiking enthusiasts were able to raise £30,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support.
This year’s hikers heralded from various backgrounds ranging from students to professional such as doctors, engineers, accountants, and lawyers. Any illusion that the hike would be a pleasant, restful stroll was quickly removed and we each quickly came to realise – some the hard way! – that the hike was no ordinary endeavour. It required days of strenuous physical and mental exertion. As a group of fifteen, the long days required of us obedience, unity and brotherhood. For Ahmadi youth, these are qualities that feel almost like second nature.
But what was so special about these particular hikers? What was their to gain from hiking across the Alps during solitary days and far from the gaze of the world? Put simply, serving mankind in the midst of such magnificent beauty drew each of us closer to our Creator.
Whilst climbing the endless peaks of the Alps, hiker after hiker enjoyed the spectacularly beautiful views across the mountains. This gave us an illuminating opportunity to admire God’s creation and ponder upon our religious beliefs. We were truly humbled by the manifest reality that mighty and overpowering mountains were within our reach. We came to the realisation that it matters not how high we climbed mountains, but rather how high we could elevate our righteousness (taqwa).
And thus our hearts – humbled – were filled with the fear of Almighty God and His blessed remembrance. We came to better appreciate the Qur’anic passages:
”Those who believe and whose hearts find comfort in the remembrance of Allah. Aye! It is in the remembrance of Allah that hearts can find comfort. (Q. 13:29)
”In the creation of heavens and the earth and in the alternation of the night and the day there are indeed signs for men of understanding; those who remember Allah while standing, sitting, and lying on their sides, and ponder over the creation of the Heavens and the earth: Our Lord thou hast not created this in vain; Holy art Thou; save us, then, from the punishment of the Fire”. (Q. 3:191–192)
We performed our prayers on the peaks of the mountains and in the heart of valleys. And whilst witnessing the highest peak of Europe our hearts were filled with the praise of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, the mercy for mankind (peace and blessings of God be upon him).
Allah sends down His blessings on the Prophet and His angels pray for him. O ye who believe, you too should invoke God’s blessings on him and salute him with the salutation of peace. (Q. 33:57)
As we scaled dangerous terrain, we encountered other hikers. We found ourselves wishing them well and also yearning inside that they should know the truth about Islam. That Islam is not about conquering mountains, nor waging wars in foreign lands, but simply about peace and spreading the powerful message of peace. We then remembered, and took great joy in, the fact that we are led by our beloved Imam, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V, who is at forefront of spreading the message of peace.
After days of hiking we arrived home safely and felt the need to collect even more money. The magnificence of the hike remains strong in our hearts and the echoes of the footsteps taken by this group of humble followers of Islam will resonate in our hearts for many years to come.