Book Launch: Makkah to Madinah – A Photographic Journey of the Hijrah Route


'If ye help him not, still Allah helped him when those who disbelieve drove him forth, the second of two; when they two were in the cave, when he said unto his comrade: Grieve not. Lo! Allah is with us. Then Allah caused His peace of reassurance to descend upon him and supported him with hosts ye cannot see, and made the word of those who disbelieved the nethermost, while Allah’s Word it was that became the uppermost. Allah is Mighty, Wise.' [Qur'an 9:40]

I was privileged to be at the book launch of ‘Makkah to Madinah – A Photographic Journey of the Hijrah Route’ on the evening of Friday 27 March 2015 at the Royal Geographic Society in Kensington.

The Photobook by Dr Abdullah Al Kadi documents in great detail the  Hijrah Journey that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, took from Makkah to Madinah.

Left to RIght: Peter Sanders, Dr Abdullah Al Kadi, Bettany Hughes
Left to RIght: Peter Sanders, Dr Abdullah Al Kadi, Bettany Hughes

The event was chaired by historian Bettany Hughes with presentations from Dr AlKadi and Photographer Peter Sanders. The evening closed with a reception and book signing with Dr AlKadi.

Dr Abdullah AlKadi‘Dr. Alkadi is the Vice Rector for Studies, Development and Community Services, as well as being a Professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Dammam in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. He is the author of several books covering diverse topics such as the use of GIS applications on social development in urban areas, to analysis of the planning characteristics of urban mosques at the time of the Prophet in Madinah. Currently, Dr. Alkadi continues to explore and expand his research not only on the Hijrah Route, but other ancient pathways as well.’

I arrived late at the event due to unforeseen circumstances that afternoon on a return journey from Bognor Regis. As a result I missed a good chunk of Dr AlKadi’s presentation. What I did catch was him documenting through pictures the difficulty he and his team had to endure to find and detail all the places that the Prophet, peace be upon him, and Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased him, trekked through on their momentous journey from Makkah to Madinah.

They uncovered many new milestones that marked the way, reaching some areas that were only accessible by foot, and hand digging various milestones and artefacts from underground. Along the way they uncovered ancient writings on rocks that predate even the Islamic Period in Arabia.

Dr AlKadi has  had all of his new findings documented with the relevent Tourism and Archeology department within the Government of Saudi Arabia.

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Dr. Alkadi explains: “Makkah to Madinah is the culmination of several years of research driven by the simple desire to determine as precisely as possible the exact route of the Hijrah. In the course of this study, I have conducted dozens of field expeditions, collecting data, recording GPS coordinates, identifying landmarks, calculating distances, and covering as much as possible the entire route by foot. I have also examined every available resource from Hadith and Seerah literature and narrations, to historical documents, maps from the eighteenth century to the present. I have also conducted extensive interviews with local residents to glean information handed down through generations.”

“After analysing, synthesising, and cross-checking the information from this research, I have by the grace of Allah realised my original goal: to determine as precisely as possible the exact route of the Prophet’s Hijrah.”

After Dr AlKadi Peter Sanders took to the stage. He mirrored what Dr AlKadi had said and stated that in all his years of travelling to and photographing Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Sites, he could not believe that the sites uncovered by Dr AlKadi actually existed.

Although he was only on the journey for part of the way he found the whole experience spiritually uplifting knowing that they were walking on the exact same path that the Prophet, peace be upon him, had trodden.

Peter also mentioned the sites that were hard to reach and had to be gotten to on foot and commended Dr Al Kadi’s commitment and vigour in completing those journeys on foot. Peter summarised that the landscapes that they visited and saw was like seeing the Artistry of Allah in His creation.

IMG_20150330_191239Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, who was also present at the launch, wrote the forward to the book.  It was through Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and his audio tapes in the 90s that I first heard of Dr AlKadi, and I was glad that I finally got a chance to meet him in 2015! Alhamdu Lillah. He writes in his forward to the book:

In a just world, this exaustive effort would be seen as a groundbreaking masterwork, and would be discussed and celebrated by historians of humanity worldwide. But our world is far from just, and Shaykh Abdullah may have to wait for the Hijrah to that truly just world for his work to be acknowledged and rewarded. For now, may our gratitude suffice.

After the presentations was a brief Q&A conducted by the chair which was followed by the reception and book signing.

Dr AlKadi signing my copy of his book with the inscription: 'Preserving History for the Future Generations.'
Dr AlKadi signing my copy of his book with the inscription: ‘Preserving History for the Future Generations.’

The book can be purchased from all good bookstores and online through Amazon and the publisher’s own website: http://orient-east.com/buy

I would like to end by thanking brother Masud Ahmed Khan for posting the details of the event on his Facebook feed, without which I would not have known of the event. I would also like to thank Helen Lewis of literallypr.com for extending the invite to me and giving me the opportunity to meet such great personalities from the Islamic World.

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