Omar’s Blog

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

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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:
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.
Imran Ghani
Omar Ghani

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!




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

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


Gathering from around the World

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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

Photo with the LaunchGood Team in Detroit!

Rihlah Team Update! June 1st, 2014

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Sallam and Greetings everyone!

This post is long overdue but Inshallah it will be the first of many to come over the next year as our team prepares for this incredible journey to Mecca!

Background of myself

Just to give an introduction on myself, My name is Omar Ghani. I’m an American Muslim of Pakistani and Indian descent. Alhamdulilah I have had the chance to live in several places in the world but Houston, TX has been my family’s home for nearly the past 18 years. Islam is a big factor of my life…A lot of who I am is thanks to the foundation of my parents and older brother who instilled Islamic principles in my life.

When I graduated from High School, I went to go pursue my business degree at the University of Texas (Hook Em!) There, I fell in love with the outdoors and specifically to cycling when I joined the longest Charity bike ride in the world, Texas 4000 for Cancer in 2012 ( It was a wonderful experience cycling from Austin, TX to Anchorage Alaska and raising charity for Cancer Research. During that trip, I fell in love with the outdoors, meeting people from all different kinds of backgrounds and wanting to continue striving to do good things in life with still a passion for an adventure.

Since then, I graduated from UT a year ago and now work for the Dow Chemical Company as a Purchasing Analyst in Michigan for this year and will later move back to Texas next year. I enjoy my career quiet and look forward to building a great business foundation and later incorporating it for my other goals in life.

Background of the Rihlah

The idea of the Rihlah actually popped in my mind a few months after I completed the Texas 4000 ride. I have never performed the sacred pilgrimage of Hajj (a requirement for every Muslim to do at least once in their life) and I thought to myself, what better way than to actually take the time out of it like the people of the past? The idea of the Rihlah became more concrete towards the end of 2013 by sharing a long journey to Mecca to the world and using my love of riding bikes to embark on a physically and mentally long journey in 2015 Inshallah.

LaunchGood and THANKYOU

As many of you are aware of and participated, we thank you tremendously for making our first campaign to start the Rihlah project a success!! While the Rihlah is an enormous task and does seem slightly intimidating to several, thanks to your generous support and contribution our team of 7 will make this journey a reality! To provide you with a quick update on where your contributions go towards, for this year you have helped us tremendously by allowing the team to purchase our bikes, basic gear equipment as well as media supplies to ensure that we capture the experience! Costs such as, Air tickets, the Hajj Package and other gear will be purchased through our personal pocket to respect that we are financially supporting our journey to Hajj.

We would like to thank LaunchGood tremendously for supporting the online campaign! They are a new online crowd funding site that supports Muslims projects worldwide to make them a reality and thanks to their hard work, patience and pushing our team to succeed, they helped us raise over $11K thanks to everyone’s support! We hope for their continued success to make other creative Muslim projects a reality and be a role model of American Muslim entrepreneurship!

AND TO YOU ALL!! THANK YOU and Jazakallah-Khair for believing in this incredible journey! Whether you contributed $10/$25/$50/$100/$1,000 we value your support tremendously! Our media team is thrilled that we have a better vision now to make this documentary a reality and hopefully soon share some great filming updates over the next few months! We hope that you all have received our thank you cards and T-shirts by now.

Special Thankyou’s to our incredible sponsors!

Sama Tours

Bicycle World of Houston


The Gopalani Family

And many many others

Getting the bikes and naming!

Ok now for the juicy stuff! Our team has nearly collected all of our bikes! For those of you curious, what our bike is, it is a Cross Tour Bike meant for Road biking and a little bit of gravel terrain. We hope these models, “The Jamis Bosa Nova” will last us throughout our training in 2014 to the last very last mile to Mecca in 2015 Inshallah.

As per my Texas 4000 Team’s culture, every rider must name their bike and so I encouraged my new team to do the same. As a joke one of our teammates said that each bike must be named after a Disney princess…and well I guess it’s serious now haha

Usman’s has named her bike Ariel, Emad’s is Jasmine and Talha’s Tinker Bell (But for real why that? Lol)

As for me, the full name of my new bike is “Qaswa Aurora Borealis”. In Islamic history, Qaswa was the name of the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) camel in which he used to enter the city of Medina and Aurora because of its beautiful meaning on natural light (…and yes because of Sleeping beauty). The name of my T4K bike is Buraq so I’m happy to say that both of bikes have very cool Islamic reference names!

Training Camp and 2014 Schedule

Inshallah on June 9th, the Rihlah will be having its first Training Camp as a team! We will be training in a small town called Fayyetville, TX where I will cover the basics of riding a road bike, being alert on the road and being safe at all times to the best of our ability. We will be covering a lot of miles that day as well and hopefully be taking plenty of photos and filming to share to all of our supporters!

In addition, here is a schedule for our supporters to be on the Lookout for!

Key Dates

Training Camp: June 9th, 2014

June 28th, 2014 Ramadan Begins

July 28th, 2014 Ramadan Ends

Training Camp: August 9th, 2014

Training Camp: October, 5th, 2014

Training Camp: December 24th-December 31st, 2014

January-July 2015 Rihlah Team to train every Week

June 18th, 2015 Ramadan Begins

July 17th, 2015 Rihlah to Depart US and begin Journey!


That’s all for now! We hope you have enjoyed the first of many of these blog series and we wish that you pray for our success in making this dream a reality.

Sincerely and Sallam,

Omar Ghani

Rihlah Founder and Operations Captain


Omar Ghani’s Biography

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Hey Everyone my name is Omar Ghani! Or you can refer to me from my many nick names, “OG”, “CG”, the “Honey Badger” and others haha. I am a graduate from the University of Texas with a degree in Supply Chain Management and currently work for the Dow Chemical Company as a Supply Chain Analyst. I am a huge Tennis follower (Not many around right?), have a passion for cycling, eat all the time (Big boy gotta eat) and in between all the above, contemplate life and our purpose.

When I was at UT, I was blessed to be a part of the Texas 4000 2012 team. The longest charity bike ride in the world from Austin TX to Anchorage AK to raise hope, knowledge and charity for the fight against Cancer. I spent 70 days with a group of 20 amazing teammates getting to see the continent in such a beautiful way and giving a small dose back to humanity by embarking on a physical and mental journey.

When I came from Alaska, I made a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish in Life. The clichés were getting a job, buying a house, having an epic Desi Wedding and so forth. Eventually Hajj came to my mind as a check list and that’s when for the next couple of months the idea started circulating my brain…What if I rode my bike to Mecca to perform the sacred pilgrimage of Hajj?

I founded the Rihlah with a small team with the intent to do something historic (God willing) and more importantly to complete a requirement on of one of the pillars of Islam. This ride will serve as an avenue to experience a journey on what many Muslims went through in the past and to share that story despite the many forms of modern technology that make Mecca easily accessible. This journey will be a unique approach to meet individuals, share our stories, and taking time out of our busy lives and focusing on the phrase “Here I am my Lord, Here I am…”.

I think what I look forward to the most is getting to Mecca and performing Hajj with my team in our own terms. Today, Hajj has become more commercialized and what I feel is missing is experiencing a journey and relying on the assistance of others and experiencing nature along the way. In addition, I really look forward to the spiritual preparation along the way as we prepare to perform the sacred pilgrimage.

Feel free to leave a comment below or email me at