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An inspiration of hajj for mainstream America

By Omar Alansari-Kreger

Hajj is recognition of our shared mortality which reminds us of what we cannot refute, our humanity.

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How does one establish a sense of meaning in a fast-paced world driven by material results? In America, people seem like they are married to their jobs which makes it difficult to acquire a true sense of life or identity for that matter. It becomes quite difficult to stand out when society demands conformity through standardized assimilation. As America continues to wrestle with its deep polarities, it becomes challenging to explore an escape from the madness. This describes something much greater than a two-week vacation. Unbeknownst to many Americans, the Hajj pilgrimage takes place each year. For all able-bodied and financially capable Muslims, it stands as a mandatory religious obligation beckoning fulfillment. It represents a great coming together of the races each year best described as an epic festival of nations. For Hajj, people arrive by the millions far and wide by air, sea, and land.

Any Non-Muslim cannot help but to wonder: why do people leave their careers, families, and other details of life behind across a two-three week period as an act of high faith?

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Assumed dead, St. Paul woman surprises family after fatal Hajj stampede

By Ibrahim Hirsi, MinnPost

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After the special morning prayers of Eid al-Adha last Thursday, one St. Paul group abandoned its much-anticipated festive activities during the Islamic holiday commemorating the end of the annual Islamic pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Instead, the group of family, friends and neighbors filled a small mosque in south St. Paul, praying in silence and mourning the death of 62-year-old Dahabo Farah Ebar, whom they thought was killed in a fatal stampede on the outskirts of the Muslims’ holy city of Mecca.

“She was popular in the neighborhood and was loved by everyone,” said Feisal Adan. “We canceled the Eid. The entire neighborhood gathered at her house. It was a sad moment for all of us.”

Two mosques in St. Paul also held special prayers for Ebar, who left St. Paul just two weeks ago to fulfill her Hajj duties. Congregations were told that Ebar was one of more than 700 pilgrims who lost their lives on Thursday in the stampede in Mina as they carried out a symbolic stoning of the devil, one of the final Hajj rituals.

But what happened later in the day astonished all: Ebar called her son, Farhan Sheikhdon, and told him that she had been lost in the crowd and her phone had died.

Sheikhdon then turned to the mourners, telling them that Ebar was in fact alive and well. “People didn’t believe she was alive,” he added. “They were talking to her until midnight.”

Continue reading at MinnPost

Ibrahim Hirsi reports on immigrant communities, social issues, marginalized groups and people who work on making a difference in the lives of others. A graduate from the University of Minnesota, he interned for Newsday and has written for multiple publications in Minnesota.

Follow Ibrahim Hirsi on Twitter: @IHirsi.

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Reflections from my Spiritual Journey to Makka

By Owais Bayunus, Engage Minnesota

owais_bayunus1.jpgHajj is considered the fifth pillar of Islam, meaning every Muslim who can afford it and is in good health has to perform Hajj (at least) once in his lifetime.

My very first recollection of people going to perform Hajj was in my childhood in Karachi, where all the pilgrims from Pakistan used to assemble at the harbor to board ships heading towards Saudi Arabia. There was a distinct difference between them and the rest of the people who were not going to Hajj. The men were all dressed in white, women well covered, and you could see children running around dressed similarly. They were more organized than other people and always remained with their group, lest they get lost and be a problem for themselves and others.

When one of my father’s friends went to perform Hajj, my father took me along to bid him farewell at the passenger ship. In those days, the rich pilgrims normally flew to Jeddah directly and the middle class and the poorer people would take a ship to Jeddah, a journey of almost seven days. Read the rest of this entry

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