South African priest converts to Islam, performs Hajj pilgrimage

2023-06-28 18:40:11
South African priest converts to Islam, performs Hajj pilgrimage

Ibrahim Richmond, a former Christian priest from South Africa, who recently converted to Islam following a series of dreams and led thousands of his followers to embrace the religion, has performed his first Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

“I will follow the footsteps [of Prophet Muhammad], and I believe... millions of my people in South Africa will follow these footsteps to see the light,” he said in a video uploaded on Twitter by Saudi Arabia’s Government Communication Center earlier this week.

“This is the mountain of light. I am the first one in my family to touch here, this soil, this blessed soil,” he said.

Ibrahim was a priest for 15 years and a leader of the congregation of a church in South Africa, where he had around 100,000 followers.

He said that his life changed after having a similar dream multiple times where a voice told him: “Tell your men to wear white coats,” after which he realized that the voice was referring to Taqiya, a white cap that many Muslims wear for prayers.

At first, he did not pay much attention to it and snubbed it as “just a dream” as the order was related to Muslims and irrelevant to him as a Christian. “It came again and again and the last time this voice became aggressive. ‘Now tell your men’.”

Richmond accepted Islam three months ago and changed his name to Ibrahim. Thousand of Christians from his church followed suit and accepted Islam.

In a viral video, which circulated on the internet in March, Ibrahim and thousands of his followers were seen pronouncing Shahadah (testimony of faith).

“What I was saying, they were also saying it. Those thousand voices saying one… what Shahadah would mean. We were happy, then I saw Muslim brothers coming. I said I have been waiting for you, I have been waiting for you, I had a dream, that you will come here,” Ibrahim said as he cried.

He said that Allah made his Hajj journey easy and blessed. “I am so happy and lucky to be given that chance.”

A video, shared by Haramain’s Twitter account on Monday, showed him arriving in Mecca and performing the first rituals of Hajj.

Saudi authorities have described this year’s event as the “biggest” Hajj pilgrimage in years, as more than two million people from over 160 countries were said to have attended the annual religious gathering.

The event comes as the requirement for women to be accompanied by male guardians was dropped by Saudi authorities in 2021.

This year, the maximum age limit has also been scrapped, meaning thousands of elderly people will be among those braving Saudi Arabia’s scorching heat that is projected to reach 44 degrees Celsius.

The Hajj pilgrimage is one of the pillars of Islam that Muslims who enjoy financial self-sufficiency are religiously obliged to perform at least once in their lifetime.


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