British ambassador Collis becomes first senior diplomat to complete Mecca pilgrimage after converting to Islam

After converting to Islam @HMASimonCollis became the 1st British Ambassador,whilst on duty in #Saudi 2 perform #Hajj pictured with his wife Huda has bee n reported. Simon Collis , 60 , an d wif e Huda Mujarkec h were pictured in the whit e robes of pilgrim s at the gate of th e British Consulat e in Saud i Arabia’s holiest city

A picture posted on Twitter showed Simon Collis in the traditional white robes worn by pilgrims during the hajj.

THE British ambassador to Saudi Arabia is the first senior diplomat to convert to Islam and this week completed the hajj with his Syrian wife.

Simon Collis announced he had decided to convert to Islam “after spending 30 years in Muslim societies”.

Simon Collis became the first British Ambassador

Simon Collis became the first British Ambassador to attend the Hajj pilgrimage

The father-of-five was pictured in the traditional white robes worn for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, which every Muslim must make at least once in their lives.

He is married to Syrian Huda al-Mujarkech.

The 60-year-old had previously served as Britain’s ambassador to Syria between 2007 until 2012, when diplomatic relations broke down between the UK and President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Mr Collis' conversion to Islam emerged after pictures were posted on Twitter

Mr Collis’ conversion to Islam emerged after pictures were posted on Twitter

His diplomatic career has included stints in several Middle Eastern countries, including as ambassador in Iraq and Qatar and senior diplomatic positions in United Arab Emirates, Yemen, India and Tunisia.

Arab media reports indicate he converted to Islam in 2011, shortly before he married his current wife Huda.

Before a man marries a Muslim woman they are required to convert to Islam.

Mr Collis’ conversion to Islam emerged after pictures were posted on Twitter of him and his wife at the Haj dressed in the traditional Ihram robes at the gates of the British Consulate in Mecca.

Mail Online reports the pictures were posted by Fawziah Albakr from the King Saud University, who wrote in Arabic: “The first British ambassador to the Kingdom leads the pilgrimage after his conversion to Islam: Simon Collis with his wife Mrs. Huda in Mecca. Praise be to Allah.”

He thanked her on Twitter and wrote: “May Allah bless you. Briefly, I converted to Islam after 30 years of living in Muslim societies and just before I married Huda.”

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed he had converted to Islam but did not comment further, saying it was a private matter.

Mr Collis was among an estimated 19,000 British pilgrims performing Haj this year as they celebrated Eid al-Adha.

This always begins on the 10th day of the Islamic lunar month of Dhul-Hijja, during the annual pilgrimage.

The annual pilgrimage

The annual pilgrimage sees millions of Muslims travel to the holy site

In Saudi Arabia, more than two million Muslims descended on Mecca to celebrate the festival in one of the final rites of the Hajj.

After Mr Collis left Damascus in 2012 he served as an ambassador to Iraq until 2014, before moving to Riyadh in January 2015.

His first ambassador post was in Doha, Qatar between 2005 and 2007.

He was Consul General in Basra, Iraq from 2004 to 2005 and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates from 2000 to 2004.

From 1996 to 1999 he was deputy head of mission in Amman, Jordan from 1996-1999.

Few people knew of Mr Collis’s conversion to Islam before the photograph appeared.



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