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 (www.texas4000.org). 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!
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!
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,
Rihlah Founder and Operations Captain