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Al-Rihlah: Team Update, Major Changes to Ride, Kick-off Event

Posted by | Blog, Emad's Blog, Imran's Blog, Jaudat's Blog, Omar's Blog, Talha's Blog, Umer's Blog, Usman's Blog | No Comments

Dear Al-Rihlah supporters!

This is Imran and Omar Ghani here saying hello. It’s been a while since we’ve updated you on things but now that the ride is just around the corner we thought we’d bring you all up to speed. This past year of training and route planning has faced us with many challenges that have led to incredible physical and spiritual growth. We are ready to experience a unique Hajj trip and are excited to share it with you along the way.
Team Update
  • Thanks to your support we raised $11,136 during our LaunchGood crowd funding campaign. These funds were used to purchase our bicycles, traveling equipment, and food. Major thanks to our sponsors Bicycle World and Fifth Moon Studios for the support they have given our project.
  • Due to circumstances that occur in life many of our teammates will be unable to do the ride. Thank you Jaudy, Umer, Emad, Usman, and Talha for being amazing team mates. We love you and hope you have benefited from this endeavor. We are forever thankful to you for believing in this project. Omar and I will be remember you throughout the ride.

 

Major Changes to the Ride

  • Due to the political instability in Eurasia and the Middle East we have decided to change the cycling portion of al-Rihlah to here in the United States. The above map is the new route that we will be following.
  • The ride will be a combination of about 50-60 miles of cycling everyday and driving to safe camp sites.
  • We understand that our final project is NOT what we promised you when soliciting your financial support. If you would like your contribution returned then please message us and we will provide you a full refund. 
  • Important Dates:
    1. Sunday, July 19th – Send-off party!
    2. Monday, July 20th – Imran to start cycling from Houston towards the Guadalupe Mountains.
    3. Friday, July 31st – Omar to leave Houston and catch up to Imran at Guadalupe Mountains
    4. Cycling + Road Tripping to various National Parks in the Western U.S.
    5. Tuesday, August 18th – Imran to end cycling portion at Berkeley, CA and start school.
    6. Monday, September 7th – Omar to continue U.S. trip solo
    7. Saturday, September 12th – Leave Houston for Hajj
    8. Monday, September 28th – Return home

 

Kick-off Event
 Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 3.35.36 PM
The time has come friends!
Come out and wish us farewell before we hit the road. We have been planning, training, and praying tirelessly and ready for an amazing trip.
Sunday, July 19th @ 8-10pm
1127 Eldridge Pkwy #100, Houston, TX 77077
FB Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/937014206356387/
What to Expect During the Trip

  • Vlogs and blog posts by Imran and Omar
  • Photography, photography, and more photography!
  • Visiting masjids and other religious centers across America.
  • Sharing as many conversations as possible with the new people we meet .
  • Campgrounds!
With that being said we wanted to thank you once again for your support. Please pray that we are able to complete this journey safely and in good health. Please let us know if you have any questions or feedback.
Sincerely,
Imran Ghani
Omar Ghani
www.alrihlah.org

Cartoons

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Cartoons

Cartoons can be funny and punny and oh so full of joy
They bring us giggles and wiggles and laughs like little girls and little boys

The drawings are clever they allow us to remember what’s really important for us
It’s to take what’s serious without being delirious to poke fun without a fuss

But as adults we forget to sometimes let our conscience guide our thoughts
Though it may be a right to spew with all our might, what have we really bought

But it is without question that violence and aggression are gross and certainly not in my name
The murders are surely the dogs of Hell where they shall dwell for bringing us horror and shame

They hoped we’d fall but instead we stand tall to fight as brothers and sisters united
We vow not to shout and scream,
to fall for their scheme for these actions are not me, nor he nor she.

The answer doesn’t lie in hate it is simply their bait to see us all divided

I, as a Muslim love you so, that you are to me a friend to know,
that I am not who you may think, a foe,
but I assure you that my love and the love of over a billion is real,
we fast and pray, we smile and say peace be unto you.

We wish we could fix it all but we simply bawl, we cannot take the tears,
you know not the fears we hold,
its not true what you’ve been told,
I am a human that says peace be unto you. Peace be unto you.
If only if only you knew.

-Talha bin Baqar

sf-gg

_MG_0722

December Training Camp Highlights

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I think some of my fondest memories of an adventure is the thrill of seeing something or experiencing something for the first time. I’ve been to California countless of times in my life but now getting to experience the bay area with 3 days’ worth of biking was something else.

Heading to Cali, Emad and I had a journey to get to our journey. The road trip was well worth it. We got to see some of the most beautiful stars in west Texas, experience some of the tastiest authentic Mexican food in El Paso, witness the reaction of a diehard Whataburger Texan overwhelmed with his first In N Out to driving the beautiful 101.

Our team had an incredible time conducting our training camp there! Talha, our gracious host let us experience Santa Cruz to the finest. From the amazing farm roads that led us to the ocean to the local ice cream shop, I could not have asked for a better time there.

With 3 intense days of biking and spending our evenings seeing the beautiful Bay, I’ve come to 2 conclusions:

  • My love and flare for riding a bike is very much there. I have to admit, I was nervous the past few months about my physical shape and wanting to go up a mountain…but man, the challenge, the passion and the thirst for more has been reignited
  • I think more than anything, at the conclusion of a trip, you won’t remember so much of the physical tolls…but you will appreciate the rewards of experiencing things afterwards. Seeing green valley’s up a summit, hitting close to 50 mph on a downhill to taking the time to explore food and nature afterwards are the things that have been ringing at the back of my head after this trip

 

With a 3 day trip providing a lifetime of memories, I am a little overwhelmed of what this upcoming summer will bring. iA, the experience to meet others, going up the hills, trying different foods, and waking up every morning for prayer and excitement will lead us to accomplish our vision.

 

Enjoy some of the highlights below!

 

Sallam,

 

OmarIMG_0884 IMG_0645 IMG_0644 IMG_0093 _MG_0722 _MG_0714 _MG_0698 _MG_0533 _MG_0364 _MG_0235 _MG_0208 _MG_0034

Peshawar

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We feel bad
For the dead
For what they had,

Things left unsaid
To mom and dad,
Shot and bled
In sheets they’re clad,

Mothers who pled
Threatening to go mad
To God she said
Save my lad!
Take me instead!

She stared at his notepad
For words unread,
At the ring on her hand
For weddings unwed,

The picture with his dad
The roads ahead
Seem empty and sad,

We sit in bed
The death toll they add
In the news we’re fed
Consumed like fads,

The Prohet (pbuh) said
If you see an evil act against what you see
Or speak against it with words, don’t just let it be
Or feel remorse in your heart, and that is the weakest of three

-Talha bin Baqar

 

We feel pain for the ummah wherever there is sadness, but with that pain we must not soon forget what we can do. Our duties don’t end at sharing a facebook post or a retweet, it begins with sincere Du’aa for the afflicted, then a plan to help however we can. That can include donations, raising awareness, and most importantly changing what is in our own hearts to align with our Lord because we cannot witness a change in our society without first seeing that change within ourselves.

Pray for Peshawar.

 

pk-flag

Cyber Monday well spent….On a Gym Membership that is

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Sallam All!

Omar here, it has been a while since we have posted a blog so I wanted to update you all with our team. Alhamdulilah I have moved back to Houston from Michigan and boy does it feel nice to get warm weather! Coming from nearly 10 degrees in the middle of November to a Sunny 60 degree Texas Thanksgiving back home was just the perfect welcome back to the home I love. (Not to mention fried turkey, brisket and a scoop of biryani all in the same plate).

Coming back home also means getting more aggressive now with training! We have just about 7 months until the ride Inshallah and now is the time to hit the gym more often and dedicate Saturday mornings on long rides.

While many folks took advantage of Cyber Monday today, the only thing the Rihlah Team took advantage of was getting a team gym membership discount! Emad, Usman and I will all be training together during the weekdays over the next couple of months and we’re looking forward to it!

Also, our winter training camp is coming up soon! We will be training in California Inshallah during the winter holidays and we can’t wait to share some amazing pics of our rides, training, food and more! Sometime in January we will also release our latest promo video.

Stay tuned!

-Omar Ghani

Palestine

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From tree to tree
I fly for safety
Looking beneath my wings
I see the burning

I fly and see
The people before me
In sadness and misery
They run, they flee

Nearby a child sings
Flying with his wings
Happy and free
He says to me
How lucky you are
To be this far

He flutters around
Then looks to the ground
I ask his name
But he looks in shame

I ask twice
Hoping to be sufficed
When suddenly he yelps
“Why didn’t they help?”

I ask who, oh who
Was this so true
That when he needed a hand
He was put in the sand

I see a tear on his face
He says, “at least at this pace
Soon my parents will fly
With me in the sky
But I wonder when they’ll all learn
That to God we belong, and to Him we shall return.”

-Talha

In our busy lives with finals coming up, work deadlines, and the vacations approaching, let’s make it a goal to pray for Palestine once during every Salah. Just imagine, subhanAllah! That’s 8 billion prayers a day! We can only do so much, but the least we can and will do, is pray.

 

bird-fly-rihlah

I put my trust in God and He… WHAT WAS THAT?!

Posted by | Blog, Imran's Blog | One Comment

Hmmm it’s 4 pm and I have about three hours left to put in my miles before the sunset… shouldn’t be too bad…

The hills behind the city of Berkeley lead to a thick forest. I feel lost nearly every time because the sun, in it’s different positions, changes the scenery so drastically. On the way back with only about 10 miles to go I decided to pray Maghrib (funny side story while praying: a fellow cyclist thought I fainted and stopped, asking, “Are you okay?!” I tried to hold on to the prayer but ended up breaking it and explaining to him that I was making Salah. Gotta appreciate cycling culture and compassion though).

Biting off my last bit of Cliff bar I head home through the dark forest. A couple of minutes pass by and I think to myself, “Man this place sure is different at night.” A few more miles go by and I realize I am going down a very steep, unfamiliar hill. AND THEN THE PAVED PATH TURNS TO DIRT AND I’M LOST. 

After a while of aimlessly backtracking I found a sign pointing to Berkeley. At this point I begin making my go-to prayer to calm myself. which is the last verse in Surah Tawbah of the Quran:

حسبي الله لا إله إلا هو عليه توكلت وهو رب العرش العظيم

God is enough for me: there is no god but Him; I put my trust in Him; He is the Lord of the Mighty Throne

I was calm… up until my legs started majorly cramping, my flashlight died, and the howling of coyotes took control of my thoughts. Hehe, it sure is different when praying in a state of fear.

I was dragging my bike up a hill when I a car passed by. I shouted for help, begging them to lead me the right way. I find out that I was just a street away from a point about 4 miles away from home.

I took this picture upon returning to the road, thanked and praised God, and said to myself, “Never again.”

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“…and what is even more hidden”

Posted by | Blog, Imran's Blog | One Comment

Greetings Al-Rihlah supporters!

I’ve been getting some amazing views during my rides in the Bay Area back country. Meditating on the Quran while out with my bike for hours is the best spiritual retreat a guy could as for, and all praises and thanks are to the Divine.

These days I have been contemplating the story of Moses in the Quran from the chapter Taha. God prefaces the story by informing  the Prophet Muhammad (S) that the Quran wasn’t being revealed to him to cause him grief. Rather the example of Moses was sent down to encourage him and to expose the inevitable failure of evil no matter powerful it may seem in this world.

The ayah that keeps striking me these days is:

Whatever you may say aloud, He knows what you keep secret and what is even more hidden (20:7). 

What could be more hidden than a secret?! I mean I know that God knows all that is in my heart, but after some more thought I realized the implications of the last part of the ayah. It was almost as if God is mocking my act of thinking I could get away with the shadiest of shady. Those slight glances at the forbidden, those minor slips of the tongue, those thoughts of contempt towards my fellow brothers and sisters. It is an ayah that triggers immediate repentance and seeking rectification within myself.

What do you think?

hi

world

Gathering from around the World

Posted by | Blog, Omar's Blog | One Comment

It’s crazy to think millions of people from all over the globe are in the process to get to Mecca to perform Hajj this year. And each year, Alhamdulilah the number seems to grow and grow due to the blessings of modern day transportation, safety levels of travel, the comfort, affordability and the expansion to make the Holy mosque more accessible to everyone.

Often I think what if these sheer numbers were planning to embark on this journey like people did hundreds of years ago? It would be a sight to see. Imagine the Arabian Desert covered with a sea of pilgrims and the Port of Jeddah having waves of vessels as far as the eye could see.

I am beyond excited for this journey that is coming up now in less than a year. Every day our team is working on the logistics of the ride and nearly each day we are discovering ways to improve our route planning. Safety is the most important thing for us and because of that we have changed our route quite a few times now. It is a daunting task yet we are eager, nervous and excited all at the same time. As of now the countries we plan to embark our journey in are Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Jordan and finally reach mecca.

We’ll see what the future holds but please do keep us in your prayers and look out for our updates! God has given us a beautiful world, and he’s given us a pillar to allow us the opportunity to explore it for his sake.

 

-Omar Ghani

Imran, you’re gonna die.

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“Never forget to tell the people you love that you love them”

This quote by Tariq Ramadan was the Facebook status I chose to post the evening of August 2nd, 2013 after witnessing my first near death experience. I was curled up in my hostel room in Amman, Jordan shattered, completely rocked to the core, just wanting to be back home with my loved ones. The horrible memory kept playing in my head and all I could do was allow it to keep draining me of all ego and pride.

I had decided to get away from the craziness of Cairo to find isolation in Amman, do a little touring, and meet up with a friend. I always find it peculiar how I left Cairo, a place where I was witnessing violent protests daily, only to find death waiting for me in a place I least suspected.

We decided to visit Wadi Mujib, a canyon next to the Dead Sea with a shallow river running through it. Now anyone who has been hiking with me knows I’ll start doing stupid things to entertain myself. Whether it be climbing trees, rock climbing walls and boulders, or in this scenario crossing furious rapids, I always seem to put myself in dangerous situations just for kicks. We entered an area with a warning sign labeled, “DO NOT ENTER” suggesting hikers to take the alternative route… I of course read, “PLEASE ENTER, HOT CHOCOLATE AND BABES AWAIT”

The area had tall boulders with high pressured water squeezing through the rocks below. I was casually skipping through the boulders thinking, “Meh, no big deal if I fall in case I’m not able to make a jump.” Boy was I wrong. I failed at an attempted jump across two boulders and fell in, immediately getting thrashed against the rocks completely knocking the wind out of me. All of the water was funneling toward the crack my foot had gotten stuck in and I hadn’t a breath of air left in my lungs. Panicked and stuck under water, I remember looking up at the rushing water and thinking, “No I don’t want to die. Please don’t let me die.. No…”

All praises and thanks are due to God for allowing my left elbow and thigh to gain enough traction against the left boulder to make a final effort to push my head above water for a second and yell for help. Fortunately I was pulled up quickly to have my head held above water again, but my foot would not get loose and it took a few more gut-wrenching minutes for another hiker to spot us and offer more strength to pull me out. I had lost my shorts by now and my boxers were barely hanging on at the edge of my shoe and as they raised my body after I finally freed my foot I remember yelling, “WAIT! I NEED TO PULL UP MY UNDERWEAR FIRST”

I wasn’t very fun to hang out with the rest of that evening and I apologize to the friends who had to witness a very cranky Imran. Scratched up and bruised, I was very angry for some reason. I wanted to cry and yell, “What the hell was that?!” I couldn’t find anyone else to blame other than myself. Part of it had to do with the fact that I put my friends in danger. But mainly it had to do with the discovery of how easily I could have lost my life. I didn’t like that at all. I didn’t like the feeling of helplessness. Being 24 years old, financially independent, and somewhat intelligent I didn’t think anything or anyone could threaten my life in such a way. And of all things to make me realize the fragility of life it was water; one of the most vital things a person needs to survive. The contradiction causes me to shake my head even today.

An immediate consequence of this incident was the loss of a ton of ego and the gaining of a lot of humility. Moving forward in life my daily interactions are less about proving my self worth or accomplishment and more about laughter and appreciating the simple joys I experience alone as well as with others.

After a year of meditating I have come to realize something even more important. I’m going to die. It was so overwhelming and seemingly morbid at first but coming to terms with this reality has been incredibly liberating. I’ve lived life this past year with purpose but also in a state of blissfulness, knowing that the remaining life I have is a gift. And that this gift I must cherish dearly by serving my physical and spiritual self, by exchanging love between my family and friends, and displaying احسان (consistent excellence) in the work I leave behind in this world. Believe it or not I’m actually even more silly than before. I just don’t put myself in harms way anymore. 

Every now and then I’ll find myself stressing about things in my personal life. This memory helps me take a step back and reminds me, “Imran, you’re gonna die”

image

PS: Those of you who have seen The Fountain know why I put this image up :’)