Mount Snowdon Hike: Post summit reflections

Islamic projects like the building of a Masjid, printing literature, Dawah work, charitable events need money. Karima Institute runs several projects that need financial support. Recently friends and staff decided to raise money for Radio Dawn, so we decided to do a sponsored hike on mount Snowdon. Here I reflect on the moral and the spiritual lessons I learnt in that wonderful ascent last week.

The mountain is an amazing permanent feature of our landscape. Its tall, majestic, lonely, ancient and gigantic. It’s a metaphor for the smallness of man, like a grain of sand in the vastness of the desert. The Majestic Quran has mentioned it sometimes as a symbol or metaphor. In Surat Al-Hashar the over-whelming power and majesty of the Quran is compared with the Mountain, “Had We sent this Quran down to a Mountain you would have seen it humbled and crumble to dust because of the fear of Allah. We offer people such examples so that they may think” (Al-Hashar – 21).

Throughout history Allah’s prophets climbed mountains, sometimes invited, Moses climbed Mount Sinai, Jesus climbed Mount Olive and the beloved Muhammad (peace be upon him) Mount Hira. Surat al-Balad uses the metaphor of the steep path, a mountainous track to describe life’s struggle. The Prophet (peace be upon him) lived in a city surrounded by black rugged mountains, so it’s not surprising Allah swears by the city of mountains, Makkah. “I swear by this city…that we created man for toil and trial … And shown him the two highways. Yet he has not attempted the steep path. What will explain to you what the steep path is, it is to free the slaves, to feed at the time of hunger an orphan relative or a poor person in distress and to be one of those who believe in urge one another to steadfastness and compassion. Those who do so would be on the right-hand side” (Surat Al Balad).

Here, life is symbolised as a steep path and describes its five features:

  1. Freeing of slaves (standing up against injustices)
  2. Feeding the hungry, orphan and destitute
  3. Believing in Allah
  4. Urging others to be patient
  5. Urging others to be kind

On 21st August 2021, 50 of us young and old took part in the Mount Snowdon challenge, the aim was to raise funds for Radio Dawn. We were determined to conquer it. As we set off, we were full of energy and anticipation of reaching the summit. I looked up and there in the distance stood the sun-kissed mountain peak, now covered with mist and concealed by the clouds, this was simply spellbinding, I felt totally free, feeling giddy with joy. As I was hiking this steep path and feeling the pangs of pain on the uphill journey, the puffing and the panting something of the meaning of life began to unfold.

Excruciating pain and a sign of real struggle

As the slope became steeper my legs ached and I wondered why I was here, what was I doing here? Isn’t this sadistic? Heart rate pacing, beating like a drum, not the usual 70 beats per minute, but hundred bpm it was difficult to sustain this heart rate over the steeper stretches of the path. In some places it is anything but a walk in the beautiful picturesque National Park of Snowdonia, sometimes it felt like I’m not going to make it. To climb up a mountain you must be fit and have a positive mental attitude. The trick of endurance is to become deaf to the body’s aches and pains. This experience of discomfort symbolises what life is; tough, a struggle and challenges. Not a bed of roses.

The trodden path

People have climbed Mount Snowdon for hundreds of years so, there is a well-trodden path that winds and meanders all the way to the top, it’s worn out in places, has potholes, which can be dangerous. Thousands of people hike Snowdon daily, making it a very busy place. The human traffic, people going up and down makes a real spectacle of this scenic mountain. I wondered what would happen if I was to start my own path to the summit, would I make it or not? This explained to me the meaning of the word Shari’ah “the well-trodden path to the waterhole” as a Muslim I am expected to walk and live on a path that has been used by countless people from the time of Adam to Jesus to our beloved Prophet.

Travelling with a group

Our guide instructed us to stay in a group and not to wander off alone. However, it was difficult to do so, since there were fast, fit, young people and less healthy older people, so people drifted away from the group. I was no exception. Near the top, it was misty, foggy and the steepness could be felt by the knees and oblivious of my companions I drifted off the path and took a wrong turn, I saw some people coming from that direction so I thought that was the way. However, after climbing 500 metres by myself, there was no one around me, in the fog where I could not see beyond 30 metres, fear crept in, I began to get suspicious. I knew I was on the wrong path. So, I turned back tracing my footsteps and I reached the original path. The lesson here was, don’t go away from the trodden path, stay with the group. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “whoever strays away from the flock will be eaten by the Wolf and whoever splits from the group will end up in hellfire.”

Being prepared

Preparation is of utmost importance; the right gear, waterproof jackets and trousers, strong walking boots, a walking stick, a supply of food and water and not to forget your mobile phone. Another essential element of preparation is physical fitness and how much walking one has undertaken in previous weeks. This prepares the leg muscles for this demanding journey. The Majestic Quran teaches be prepared, “and be well prepared, the best preparation is the fear of Allah” (Al-Baqarah: 197). Had I not been prepared for this it would have been disastrous.

There’s no joy of achievement without friends

After three long hours, I reached the summit! There were many other people there, the blustery wind was going to blow me over the ridge as I slowly and wearily made my way up the steps. I looked around but I couldn’t see anyone from my group. I felt some kind of loss, my joy turned to sadness. Other people were congratulating one another and laughing, but there was no one to congratulate me. It dawned on me that there isn’t the joy of achievement without sharing It with your loved ones. That’s why the Quran teaches us to make sure that in paradise we are accompanied by the family. It wasn’t long before my friends arrived, I was jubilant, I rushed to welcome them and congratulate them, which really pleased me, it gave a feeling of strength and resolve. I didn’t feel like going and lying down now but to continue.

An appeal to my readers

Here is a wonderful opportunity to earn reward. I hiked Mount Snowdon last Saturday to raise funds for our community radio station ‘Radio Dawn FM 107.6 FM’. The radio educates, entertains and keeps the community informed. It’s a great source of inspiration and creates a sense of belonging. Please sponsor me, click HERE and give whatever amount small or large, may Allah bless you!

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