Kuwait Times Article

Published Date: March 25, 2009
By Badrya Darwish

When I did hajj last year, accompanied by my son, I thought the trip was so tough and I felt sick for two weeks afterward. I think I caught flu from every country in the world who had sent pilgrims to Mecca.

Last night I watched the movie, Journey to Mecca, at the Scientific Center which was proud to show it on their Imax screen, the largest in the Middle East. I felt so ashamed of myself after seeing how pilgrimage was performed hundreds of years ago.

The movie illustrates the pilgrimage of the famous traveler Ibn Battuta. At 21 years old, Ibn Battuta left Tangier in Morocco and headed towards Mecca. The young chap opted to take the most difficult road, the way he saw it in a dream. From Morocco across the desert to Cairo then across the Red Sea to Medina and then to Mecca.

Ibn Battuta did not join a caravan, which was the normal way to perform pilgrimage in those days. At that time, there was no aircraft, no cars, no hotels, no motels, no air conditioning, no supermarkets, no rest stops, no nothing. It's only you, the desert, the sky above you and your horse or camel.

Ibn Battuta was overtaken by highwaymen, who beat him, robbed him and left him for dead. During his trip, he was battered by repeated sand storms. The movie illustrated how fierce and all encompassing, sand lashing his face, his hands, his clothes, everything and the poor horse too.

While watching the movie, I imagined my trip to Mecca. Which took me one hour and half to reach Jeddah airport, another 45 minutes in the taxi to reach Mecca, landed in a nice, comfortable hotel with all the facilities on earth, food everywhere, air conditioning, total comfort.

And I tried to compare myself to Ibn Battuta. But there was no comparison whatsoever. I think we've forgotten how our ancestors suffered so greatly to perform hajj. This movie, 'Journey to Mecca', helps remind us. It's shot so beautifully, it's brilliant. The photography, the sound effects, the horses, the sandstorms, especially when you see it on the Imax screen.

But I was so sad to learn that the young, handsome actor who played Ibn Battuta, Chems Eddine Zinoun, died immediately following the filming of the movie in a car crash and never had a chance to see his movie. How brilliantly he acted. I would like to thank the Scientific Center for giving us a chance to see the film. I think it's worth a journey to the Scientific Center to see it.