“Hajj: The Pilgrimage”
by Hussein Rashid
This chapter takes us on a journey to Mecca, site of the hajj, or annual pilgrimage. Hussein Rashid depicts this often once-in-a-lifetime experience for several Muslim Americans who represent a wide variety of ethnic, racial, and sectarian backgrounds. We learn about the pilgrimages of Khizer, a health care professional from Washington, D.C.; Zahra, an attorney from California; Debra, a college professor from Wisconsin; Suehaila, a professional recruiter from Dearborn, Michigan; and other Muslim Americans. They walk counter-clockwise around the Ka‘ba; pray outside Mecca at Mina and Mt. Arafat; reenact Hagar’s desperate search for water; and symbolically stone the devil, among other rites. In addition to giving essential background on each of these practices, Rashid asks these pilgrims what all these rituals mean to them and what they hope to gain by coming on hajj. As a result, we come to know not only about the logistical problems and gripes of pilgrims, but also about the failed relationships that led a couple of the pilgrims to seek solace or healing in Mecca in the first place.