WWE's Mustafa Ali expresses gratitude as he reflects on first Umrah experience

The wrestler visited Jeddah as part of a trip with the Saudi Arabia General Entertainment Authority during Ramadan

Mustafa Ali at Makkah for Umrah. Photo: WWE
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WWE superstar Mustafa Ali has never been shy about his faith.

The wrestler, whose real name is Adeel Alam, is one of the few Muslims signed to the company. After competing in the independent wrestling circuit while working as a police officer, he eventually took part in WWE's Cruiserweight Classic tournament before signing a full-time contract with the company in 2016.

However, the life of a professional wrestler can be demanding and a hectic travel schedule, in addition to weekly television appearances in different cities, can make it hard to find downtime. Although Ali, 37, is a proud Muslim who has openly spoken about Islam, one of the few things he hasn’t been able to complete is Umrah — until now.

Visiting Jeddah to take part in the spiritual worship, as well as a number of activities held by the Saudi Arabia General Entertainment Authority and WWE to mark Ramadan in the kingdom, Ali was excited when the opportunity presented itself.

Mustafa Ali in Jeddah during Ramadan. Photo: WWE

“Coming to Jeddah, visiting Saudi is always cool,” Ali tells The National. “But the fact that Umrah is attached to it is such a blessing because how many people get to do it and not only do it but do it in conjunction with work?”

“When they told me about it, I was actually talking to my wife, I'm like, ‘man, just with my schedule, I just don't know where I'm going to have the time to actually go.’ And literally, a few days later, this opportunity presents itself. So I'm very, very blessed and thankful for it.”

Umrah is a pilgrimage to Makkah that can be performed at any time of the year but it is considered particularly special during Ramadan. It’s also an experience that Muslims find tremendously rewarding.

“Obviously doing Umrah is this big thing. Doing Umrah during the month of Ramadan, even bigger thing, but then doing Umrah through the recommendation of WWE colleagues out here in the Middle East is like heart-warming. I think they know my travel schedule, my work schedule. So the fact that I'm here, doing promotional work, talking to media, getting to do iftars, meeting fans, that's all awesome.”

A seven-minute video from the WWE shows part of Ali's experience at the holy site. As the wrestler heads towards Makkah, he jokes that he has about the 75 duaas (prayers) he has to make on behalf of family and friends, promising that if he is looking at his phone, it is only to read them. During the journey, he is recognised by a fan and the two take a selfie together.

Afterwards, Ali shares his thoughts on completing his first Umrah, saying that he was smiling the entire time and felt at peace.

“Just came back from Umrah. I remember seeing the Kaaba for the first time and I felt like my heart skipped a beat, just by its beauty. Then I looked around and I saw brothers and sisters from all over the world, all wearing the same garment that I’m wearing, walking the same path that I’m walking. I just felt this sense of unity.”

“I just felt so much peace and tranquillity. I’m still smiling. We came all the way back to the hotel and I’m still smiling. I’m forever grateful for this opportunity to perform Umrah in the month of Ramadan in the last 10 nights as well. I can’t even begin to describe how blessed and thankful I am.”

Although he wasn't with family for the experience, they are never far from his mind. He describes how he came from what he calls a “broken family system” and that because of arguments and discord his extended family wasn't very close, which make things difficult growing up.

“Eid was always kind of like a sad time in my house because all my friends would be over at their uncle's houses talking about the gifts they got and their cousins. I come from a pretty large family and I felt very isolated from them growing up,” he says.

But these days, thanks to his wife Uzma — who he has been married to since 2010 — his experience of the occasion has changed for the better. The couple have three children and he credits her with helping him find what he was missing through those earlier years.

“But now Alhamdulillah, I've married this incredible woman who has this beautiful family. She has four older sisters, 19 nieces and nephews, her mom is still with us as well. So now Eid and Ramadan is just filled with love and celebration and gifts and iftars and what it's supposed to be. I finally found that so many years later.”

WWE Night of Champions is May 27 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The event can be watched on MBC's streaming platform Shahid

Updated: April 25, 2023, 11:24 AM