[Simon Collis, 60, and his wife, Huda Mujarkech, were pictured dressed in the traditional white Ihram robes of a pilgrim and standing in front of the royal seal at the gate of the British Consulate in Saudi Arabia’s holiest city..]
Makkah: Simon Collis, the United Kingdom’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, has performed Hajj after recently converting to Islam while still on duty. The diplomat was pictured with his wife in the traditional white garments of the annual pilgrimage, which is compulsory for all Muslims to perform at least once in their lives.
The blessed couple can be seen standing in front of the royal seal at the gate of the British Consulate in Saudi Arabia’s holiest city.
The image was posted on the account of a prominent Saudi Arabian women’s rights activist, Fawziah al-Bakr (@fawziah1), who wrote: “The first British ambassador in the KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] to do haj after converting to Islam.
“Simon Collis with his wife Mrs Huda in Makkah. Thanks be to God.”
It was known to some diplomats and journalists that Collis had embraced Islam but there had been no official word. The confirmation came on Tuesday after Fawziah's tweets.
Collis replied to the post by thanking Fawziah via his official Twitter handle (@HMASimonCollis). The ambassador’s wife (@HudaMCollis) retweeted Al-Bakr’s post.
Collis has been posted in Riyadh since 2015. He is believed to be the first British diplomat of his rank to perform the holiest rite for Muslims, the haj pilgrimage.
Collin is married to Huda al-Mujarkech, a Syrian Muslim. He 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.
He has previously served as Britain’s ambassador to Iraq, Bahrain and Syria. He has also served in positions in Tunisia, India, Yemen and the UAE.
Collin said in a tweet that he had converted to Islam “after spending 30 years in Muslim societies”.
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.
The holy cities of Medina and Mecca are off-limits to non-Muslims on the basis of a verse in the Koran. In terms of Hajj specifically, the pilgrimage is so over-subscribed that the Saudi authorities only issue visas to a proportion of those who apply each year.