The Harvard Umrah Group 2019 was the inaugural Umrah trip by Harvard Muslim students. Our group of 15 women and 15 men spent 4 nights in Medina and 4 nights in Mecca. It was the first experience at Umrah for just about everyone. The trip was very transformative and truly memorable. Upon arrival at Medina Airport, our group was given a royal welcome by the Ministry of Hajj, who greeted us with music, rose pedals, dates, and rose water! We were then ushered to our hotel, and later after breakfast we toured Taibah University in Medina. We were also invited to the Governor’s Office in Medina to be welcomed by his office. We visited a special ranch, dinned on roasted, barbecue lamb in the evening under the open desert sky, and spent time in the company of the Prophet’s Mosque. Along with visiting other tour sites in Medina, we were given a private special audience with the Minister of Hajj himself, Dr. Benten, who spoke with each of us and delivered a presentation to our group on the enhancement plans for the Hajj and Umrah in the future years. He also took questions from our group and addressed concerns voiced to him. We then, journeyed to Mecca to perform our pilgrimage and spent 4 night there. The experience truly changed each of us. Among the highlights of the Mecca, was our visit to the Cloth Factory of the Ka’aba. We met the director and were given a full presentation about the production of the sacred Cloth of the Ka’aba. We also toured the Factory, witnessed the actual Cloth being sewn, and were given the honor of being about to participate in stitching a few threads together. The new Cloth will adorn the Ka’abe this August, and we are extremely honored that the sacred cloth will be completed and draped with the contribution of the Harvard Umrah Group’s contribution! On behalf of all the students who went and on behalf of the Office of the President and Provost, I would like to thank Dar El Salam Travel for helping to make this possible for us and the Ministry of Hajj for the graciousness and stellar treatment of our group. We look forward to bringing a new group new year and in the future years ahead!
-Khalil Abdur-Rashid, Muslim Chaplain at Harvard University