A few days before hajj starts, a group of forty-eight local Muslims from Philadelphia, US, have embarked on their journey, on Tuesday, to the holy city of Makkah to perform annual hajj.
AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): A few days before hajj starts, a group of forty-eight local Muslims from Philadelphia, US, have embarked on their journey, on Tuesday, to the holy city of Makkah to perform annual hajj.
Including mostly Muslims from Masjidullah and other masjid across the city, the men and women are traveling with the Al-Mu'adhdhan Hajj Group, and represent one of the largest contingents ever to travel with the organization.
“This is the largest group we’ve had in eight years,” said Mikhalil Ghani, founder of the Al-Mu'adhdhan Hajj Group. “I can’t say exactly why. Each of us has a calling. It’s a requirement for all Muslims.”
During the 2 1/2-hour sendoff, the travelers spent time with their loved ones — embracing, crying, laughing and sharing excited farewells. After completing a daily prayer, they piled onto a bus that took them to JFK Airport.
“The invitation is from God to make Hajj,” said Salima Suswell, a first-time Hajj pilgrim. “It’s very much a spiritual journey.” Suswell added that it felt “really good” to travel with a large body of believers, for several reasons.
“The group you go over with, you may not know them well when you’re leaving but by the end of the trip, it’s a bond that’s unbreakable,” said Suswell. “[And] it’s a struggle when you’re over there because there is a lot of physical exertion, a lot of walking. To have so many people support each other to go through the rituals, it’s a blessing.”
Suswell explained that the group will visit Mecca, Medina and Mina, where they will take part in a set of rituals, including “circling the Kaaba" — the site of worship built by Abraham and Ishmael — seven times, and walking “between the mountains of Safa and Marwa just as the wife of Abraham did when she was looking for sustenance for her and her child.”
In addition to the rituals, several believers said they anticipated the chance to pray in the holy land.
“I’m overwhelmed. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I feel blessed that Allah has chosen me out of billions of people,” said Samuel Hill Jr., a first-time Hajj pilgrim. “I’ll be praying for all these beautiful believers. I’ll be praying for my family [and] asking Allah for his mercy and forgiveness. It goes on and on and on.”
Sabrin Abdullah, another first-time Hajj pilgrim, said Allah provided her with the funds to make Hajj. A Muslim since 1976, she encouraged fellow believers to remain faithful even if it does not seem feasible to make the trip, estimated by Masjidullah Imam Abdul-Halim Hassan to cost up to $10,000.
“I feel honored. I feel that Allah has answered my prayer and invited me to the best house, the only house,” said Abdullah. “Before I pray to my Lord, I am begging his forgiveness for my life and praying he will give me the opportunity to come back and share my experience. For those in doubt whether they should make the intention because they are looking at their bank account, don't look at your bank account. Look at your book and remember Allah’s words do come true.”
The Quba Masjid also sent 15 Muslims on Hajj.