Climbing Mount Kinabalu – from a Muslim’s perspective

Yesterday I received an email from one of my fellow colleague – a doctor – who had an experience serving Kota Marudu Hospital during his early years of services with the Ministry of Health, Malaysia. He is a Muslim like me, and when I read his email, I knew that I forgot to mention in any of my writings before – how do we organize our prayer during the climb.

This ia a post for Muslim climbers. Other believers can also get benefits from this post, in case one of your climbing buddies is a Muslim.

This is his email:

Assalamualaikum Dr Izad.
I need to ask your advice / opinion.

Firstly I’m M.F., a medical officer from IMR , KL – before this doing my housemanship in HQE and MO in Kota Marudu hospital. I and several my friends plan to climb Mt Kinabalu on March 2009.

There’s 6 of us and apparently only 5 beds available – 3 in Laban Rata and 2 in Gunting Lagadan Hut. So should I take this place – I’ve heard that in Gunting Lagadan they didn’t have any  heated water.

How’s the condition like in the hut – if you had the experience of it, or should we reduce our group to 3 and every body will stay in Laban Rata.
Furthermore –
how’s about the Solat place?

If we stay in the dormitory – is there any praying area. I’m not asking for a comfortable place but at least there’s a place for us to pray.

How about when you ascending in the early morning? Is there any place that we can stop by for the Fajr prayer?

Ok – hope to get your reply soon and I’m really appreciated on what have you done in your blog.
BTW – missing Sabah as working in Peninsular not as nice as in Sabah – traffic jams, not so-friendly people etc.
Sabah is still the BEST place.

Waalaikumsalam F,
I am really glad that you send the email. It’s a fault of mine for not writing about the climb from a Muslim climbers perspectives. Your email is very revealing, as I am going to make it as a blog post, so that our Muslim climbers can learn.

In the first place, DON’T ever cancel the booking, although you have 3 beds in Laban Rata and 2 beds in Gunting Lagadan. Take all 5 beds. If you are lucky, there will usually be last minute cancellation whereby 1 of your group member can squeeze in. Just don’t quit contacting Sutera to ask about that one bed. You may get the chance.

Gunting Lagadan is not as bad as you think. I climbed the mountain 5 times and stayed in Laban Rata only once. Although they don’t have heated room and intermittent heated water, it’s still one of the best option for you to stay overnight.

The only thing that I complain about Gunting Lagadan is the distance of the place to Laban Rata. As Gunting Lagadan is higher than Laban Rata, you have to climb up and down to get your meals from the restaurant in Laban Rata. It’s quite annoying, especially if you are totally out of energy.

About solat: I did my prayer at Gunting Lagadan’s veranda. You just have to make sure you bring your own sejadah (prayer mat). The Qiblah is quite easy, as Gunting Lagadan hut is facing west. As long as you are facing the sunset, it will be fine.

It will be a bit awkward praying in that space as it is an open space, but I am fine with that. My experience was that non-muslim climbers who stayed in Gunting Lagadan will not disturb you, as they usually can see you praying on your sejadah.

You can otherwise pray inside the room, but it’s too small. You will not be able to sujud properly. Laban Rata rooms are usually bigger, and more conducive for you to do your prayer. You just need to inform your non-muslim room mate what will you be doing, so that they will not disturb you.

For the subuh (fajr) prayer, I usually bring my own sejadah and a bottle of mineral water. Some of my friends didn’t even bring the prayer mat. They just pray on the rock surface, as it is always suci & bersih. I performed my prayer at Low’s peak with my wuduk from the bottled mineral water. It’s a perfect time for you to pray at the peak, as most fit climbers will arrive around 5.30am.

You may have to find a spot further away from the Low’s Peak tip (where the plate is), and most probably have to sit to perform the prayer. It’s quite dangerous for you to perform the prayer standing, as the surface is uneven.

It is also good for you to bring your own Qiblah compass. Quite difficult to determine the direction at the peak. I have mine anywhere I go, especially during this kind of trip.

Yeah, I know that most Peninsular people who have worked here say the same. They always miss this place.

Good luck!

Ruhaizad, Muslim climber

8 thoughts on “Climbing Mount Kinabalu – from a Muslim’s perspective

  1. salam doc,

    thanks for the effort in pointing these issues out.

    i remember when i was there, we skipped subuh prayer (during the second leg of the journey to the summit – the morning ascent) on the pretext of not knowing the direction of the Qiblah and having the difficulty to find a proper place to perform solat – shame on us! we did, however, perform our “subuh gajah” back at panar laban hut.

    guilty as charged,
    irman

  2. Assalammualaikum Dr. Izad. Appreciate ur insights. I plan to climb kk june 2011with my boys n gym friends. I am a muslim whereas my gymmates are not. Have wondered how to perform my solat up there and glad to have found ur blog 🙂 My concern now is my kids. They r fit but quite young – 10, 8. I have taken them on other outdoor adventures but climbing a mountain will be the first. My youngest gets nosebleeds occasionally and I have vertigo. Will AMS worsen our conditions? Thank u.

  3. wow..glad that i found this blog..
    tq dr. izad.. ^^
    i’m planning to climb mk again..
    i was curious about this..tq so much for the infos..
    but us, girls would find it very difficult to perform our solat on the rocks..
    so..do you have any idea what would be the best for us??

    thank u so much~

  4. You can pray with your pants/tudung/long sleeve shirt with gloves, as long as it closes your “aurat”. You then have to pray sitting down. No safe way to pray standing on top of the mountain. No need to bring your “telekung”.

  5. as-salam dr. izad,
    thanks for this post.. i really appreciate it as it helps to give me & my friends some insights on how to perform our solah during the climb.. we will be climbing mk in april.

  6. Salam, thanks for ur info..its really informative..i at first was worried bout this but luckily managed to read ur post..i plan to climb end of May 2011 with non-muslim fren n so maybe mayb need to inform them when i want to pray in the room.
    thanks so much..may Allah bless u all.

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