Members of the Armed Forces Muslim Association (AFMA) have been on Umrah visiting Islam’s holiest sites. 

They joined millions of Muslims travelling from across the globe to perform Umrah during the month of Ramadan in Saudi Arabia.

AFMA was set up in 2009 to provide advice and support to Muslim personnel serving in the British Army, across all three services, both in the regular and reserve forces.

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Private Alkarim Ismail an Army Reservist from 151 Regiment Royal Logistics Corps said: “When I got selected for the Umrah 2018 Defence Engagement visit, I had no idea how overwhelming this whole experience was going to be, or that I would be at the centre of the earth where Islam first began.

"It did not hit me until I was in the actual state of Ihram.

“I was at the airport wearing my two pieces of cloth, which is known as the Ihram, on a mission to complete a sacred journey of a lifetime to the first mosque built by Abraham. 

“Upon arrival, we were driven to Makkah (the holiest Islamic City). 

“Entering Makkah, and catching sight of the Holy Kaaba my heart began to race. We quickly began the actual rights and obligations for Umrah. I cannot wait to see what the rest of this journey will bring.”

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Corporal Abdoulie Saye from 4 Rifles said: “My unit have been so supportive of my ambition to fulfil this holy journey, so I headed to Heathrow airport with nothing but happiness and anticipation. 

"Upon arrival, the momentousness of the moment began to sink in – I felt it in my whole body, my whole heart; I felt ready. 

“Since we landed in Jeddah it was a total different experience and, seeing the Kaaba, I felt a feeling of excitement that has continued to follow me throughout the journey. 

"I feel so close to God and I haven’t stopped praying for him to accept my prayers and help me grow as a person. After my first night in Makkah, I woke up a different person. 

“Watching the prayers being performed was particularly moving; thousands of people were praying alongside us, but the only sound you could hear were the birds. 

“I feel so happy and humbled to be here. I know Umrah is helping me to connect with both my religion and my work.”

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Flight Lieutenant Sohail Azad from the Royal Air Force said: “Umrah is a dream come true.

"It has reminded me of the importance of practicing self-discipline, showing respect to my fellow human beings, always striving to do the right thing, serving others and, most importantly, accepting my mistakes and trying my best to overcome them. 

“These principles are all very closely aligned with the core values of the RAF - Respect, Integrity and Excellence. 

“I thank the MoD and RAF for providing me with this opportunity, and the Saudi Armed Forces for being such excellent hosts.”