Br. Juan Serrano is an English teacher at the American Youth Academy. He recently returned from Umrah and would like to share about his experience.

Salam aleikum wa rahmatullahi barakatu,

Allah blessed me in allowing me to take this trip. I came to Islam last year after personal struggles to understand the greatness of God. I had a few Muslim friends during my years of college, but I never understood what Islam was. After having attended an open house in 2013, I became very interested in the submission to God that I had not experienced before as a Christian. I thank God for having welcomed me to the right path.

I was blessed to be able to celebrate my first year as a Muslim in front of the Kaaba. Umrah was an experience that taught me not only to value all the things that Allah has blessed us with in life, it also taught me to come to peace with life struggles. During my time in Saudi Arabia, I was able to comprehend the beauty of the human race. I did not see any prejudice, stereotypes or negative treatment to others. It was an eye-opening experience to see that everyone there has gathered together from all parts of the world for the same purpose; to worship Allah. Seeing the way Muslims dress in Saudi Arabia made me realize that we are all equal in the eyes of Allah. We should not treat each other differently.

Umrah is not only an experience that is rewarding in terms of seeing the Kaaba, it is an experience of purification. I came to the following understanding: In order to be spiritually born again with a clean slate, you have to follow the footsteps of those that struggled in the past in order for us to have the blessings we have today. While in Mecca, I was able to understand the struggles that Hagar faced in the desert searching for water for Ismail and herself. I was also able to feel that I was standing in front of the first built house of worship for Allah. It was truly a blessing to comprehend that Allah permitted me to pray at His house. I was able to understand the true heart of worship. Peace in life is achieved when you are able to successfully come to peace with God in a higher dimension.

My mother taught me a very rewarding lesson when I entered Islam. The word “Iman” in Spanish means “magnet”. Therefore our faith should be the magnet that holds us attracted to Allah. Umrah has cleaned my negative charge and made my “magnetic attraction” with Allah even stronger.