Students complete hike to support Islamic Relief

Tuesday 22 November 2022


Four St Catharine’s undergraduates have completed a 14.5km sponsored hike of Mount Snowdon organised by Cambridge University Islamic Society in support of Charity Week (24–31 October 2022) that raised thousands of pounds for good causes.

Charity Week started in 2020 and now involves over 8,000 people participating annually across the globe in support of Islamic Relief, an international relief and development charity that aims to alleviate the suffering of the world's poorest people.

The sponsored hike is one of the biggest fundraisers for the Islamic Society and effectively kicks off Charity Week for Cambridge students. The hike alone raised £16,000 in donations and Gift Aid this year (surpassing the £12,000 raised in 2021) and that’s on top of other activities held back in Cambridge during the week itself: a cake sale, talks, quizzes, challenges, a dinner and an auction.

The hike involves a 5-hour coach trip each way to and from Snowdonia National Park, the cost of which is covered by participants so that all donations go directly to Islamic Relief.

Sharafiab Chowdhury, a third-year Engineering undergraduate at St Catharine’s who took part, said:

“I didn’t have the opportunity to join the hike previously but it looked like fun and raised a huge amount for charity. I’ve never done such a long hike before so, even though the route was described as suitable for beginners, I was taking a bit of a chance.”

Meanwhile, Mirsab Danyal, a first-year Medicine undergraduate at St Catharine’s, had booked his spot on the hike long before he even arrived in College:

“I was browsing through the Cambridge University Islamic Society’s social media and saw a post explaining that there would be a special release of places on the hike for Freshers. As soon as they went live on 12 September, I signed up!”

Mirsab Danyal and Sharafiab Chowdhury
Mirsab Danyal and Sharafiab Chowdhury before they set off on their hike
Sharafiab Chowdhury on the 2022 charity hike in Snowdonia National Park
Sharafiab Chowdhury during the hike

The day started off well, with the hikers meeting at the prayer room on the University’s Sidgewick Site before Fajr (prayers beginning at dawn) before leaving in the coach together. Sadly, the weather turned and the promise of an on-site shop selling waterproofs did not materialise.

Mirsab recalls, “The ascent wasn’t too bad, with a mix of steep and flat terrain. The descent was another story entirely for me, with the arrival of torrential rain, horizonal hail stones hitting my face and severe cramp that I’m blaming on a hamstring injury from playing football the day before. I don’t think I would have been able to keep going if we hadn’t been hiking in groups – I literally needed to lean on the other students in my group on the walk back to the coach.

“Keeping both of us going throughout the hike was definitely the thought of raising money and awareness for an important range of causes. Niyyah, the intention in one's heart to do an act for the sake of God (Allah), is an important concept in Islam. To that, we also needed to draw on our reserves of Sabr, or perseverance!”

Also looking back on the hike, Sharafiab added:

“We created lots of fond memories not just during the hike, but also the time spent with other students from different Cambridge Colleges on the trip there and back. We both agree that the spring water on the mountain was the freshest and coldest that we’d ever used for our Wudu ablutions.”

Both Mirsab and Sharafiab also wished to note that the group of hikers representing the University of Oxford in the challenge turned up late – for the second year in a row – despite travelling a shorter distance.

The Society’s Just Giving page is still live and accepting donations.

Clouds gather above Snowdonia National Park
Clouds gather above Snowdonia National Park