US Muslims embrace Hajj ‘heart and soul’

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Majd Kattan, from Dearborn, Michigan, poses for a photo in the Grand Mosque in Makkah. (AN photo by Laila Alhusini)
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Dr. Zaza. (AN photo by Laila Alhusini)
Updated 10 August 2019

US Muslims embrace Hajj ‘heart and soul’

  • ‘Our hearts and souls will live the Abrahamic journey of sacrifice, struggle, worship and surrender to God’s commands’

DETROIT: Thousands of Muslim Americans have paid at least $6,000 each to make the journey to Makkah in Saudi Arabia as part of the Islamic ritual of Hajj.

The Hajj, or pilgrimage to Makkah, is one of the five pillars of Islam and all Muslims are required to complete the journey during their lifetime.
Muslims in the US, including Arab Americans, are among millions worldwide who have arrived in the Kingdom for the pilgrimage, which ends on Aug. 14.
“We are welcoming the Hajj season,” said Sufian Nabhan, director of the Detroit Islamic Center. “Our hearts and souls will live the Abrahamic journey of sacrifice, struggle, worship and surrender to God’s commands.”
Many from Detroit’s Muslim community have traveled to Makkah.
At one time, exhaustion, robbery and disease were the main hazards facing Hajj pilgrims. Now financial cost is the major obstacle, with US worshippers paying at least $6,000 per person to make the journey.
Some countries, such as Malaysia, offer pilgrims grants or subsidize part of the cost. Meanwhile, those unable to meet the financial or physical challenges of Hajj can perform the smaller Islamic pilgrimage to Makkah called Umrah, which can be carried out year-round.
“Hajj is an invitation from God to visit His House and engage in one of the most illustrious acts of worship. But at the same time, it is a struggle where you have to be prepared financially, physically, mentally and spiritually,” said Zahra Idrees, a teacher at Al-Ikhlas training academy in Detroit.
Hajj is more than just a physical journey, said pilgrim Omar Rashid.
“You will give up everyday comforts for a few short days as you purify the soul. Hajj is not something a person does many times — so make sure you receive the full reward for completing it.  Do not risk an unaccepted Hajj,” he said.
Many celebrities have taken the Hajj journey.  
Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, who converted to Islam in 1992, took to Twitter to declare his faith, saying: “I just left the Holy City of Makkah where I was blessed to have been able to make Umrah. Inshallah (God willing), Allah will continue to bless me to stay on the straight path.”


350k+ tents in Mina and Arafat, which are fully furnished and air-conditioned.

Brothers Hussain and Hamza Abdullah, both NFL players, took a career hiatus to complete the pilgrimage, sitting out the 2012–2013 football season and missing out on lucrative pay checks. Hussain has played for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Minnesota Vikings, while his brother has played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns and Arizona Cardinals.
The brothers said that they “wanted to show that Islam is a religion of peace and has nothing to do with the extremist terrorists seen on the news.”
“You know, we’re playing football, America’s No. 1 game. We went on a road trip. What’s more American than a road trip?” said Hussain.
Imam Dr. Shadi Zaza, founder and CEO of Rahma Worldwide Relief and president of the Islamic University of Minnesota’s Detroit chamber, said he gains personal satisfaction from helping other Muslims to complete Hajj.
“It is an interesting job to be an imam taking groups from the US to perform Hajj. People from different ethnicities come together to worship one God, with everyone praying in his own language.
“The most beautiful part is when we come close to Kaaba for the first time. Everybody sheds tears thanking Allah for witnessing this moment. The other moving scene is that of the estimated 3 to 4 million people coming together to stand on Mount Arafat. It’s a similar picture to Judgment Day.”

Austrian who held Pakistan’s first passport — and helped seal ties with Saudi Arabia

Muhammad Asad
Updated 13 min 56 sec ago

Austrian who held Pakistan’s first passport — and helped seal ties with Saudi Arabia

  • Muhammad Asad was the pioneer in the establishment of friendly relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia

ISLAMABAD/WARSAW: Leopold Weiss, born to a Jewish family in the then Polish city of Lwow (now Lviv, in Ukraine) was a journalist who ardently advocated the Palestinian cause, a friend to the founding monarch of Saudi Arabia, and the translator of one of the most popular English versions of the Qur’an.
He later converted to Islam in 1926, becoming Muhammad Asad, and was also the first person to officially become a Pakistani citizen.
“Muhammad Asad was the first citizen of Pakistan; he was the first one to get a Pakistani passport,” Dr. Ikram Chughtai, a prominent Pakistani historian, told Arab News.
The journey of how Asad came to carry the first Pakistani passport winds through the then Polish part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, Palestine, Makkah and Madinah, and ends in India and what is present day Pakistan.
His interest in the Indian subcontinent was sparked during a trip to Saudi Arabia in 1927, where he met Indian expats and decided to travel to the region. He arrived by ship in Karachi in June 1932, and then went on to Lahore where he met Allama Mohammad Iqbal, Pakistan’s national poet and ideological father.
Iqbal persuaded Asad to stay in India and join the freedom movement that would lead to the partition of India in 1947 and the birth of a new nation, Pakistan, after independence from British rule. Later, Iqbal would also ask him to help draft the Islamic foundations of the emerging state.
In 1939, when the Second World War broke out, Asad, who still held an Austrian passport, was arrested by British authorities after Austria joined Nazi Germany against the allied powers. He spent the next 6 years in internment camps with Germans and Austrians captured across British-ruled territories in Asia.
“I was the only Muslim, and the Muslim soldiers who watched me wanted to let me escape, but I steered away from that,” Asad told German journalist Karl Guenter Simon, who interviewed him and his wife at their final home in Spain in 1988.
Upon his release, Asad devoted himself to shaping the framework of a Muslim state for Pakistan, soon becoming involved in a diplomatic mission to Saudi Arabia.


• Leopold Weiss, born to a Jewish family in the then Polish city of Lwow, spent most of his life in the Mideast and South Asia.

• He arrived in India in 1932 and was persuaded to join the freedom movement by Iqbal, Pakistan’s ideological father.

“After its formation, Pakistan had no embassy in the (Saudi) Kingdom,” Chughtai, the historian, said. “All matters related to Pakistani pilgrims were looked after by the country’s mission in Cairo. Pakistan wanted to send Muhammad Asad to Saudi Arabia in 1947 on an official visit to represent the newly formed state.”
But Asad had no travel documents valid for a visit to Saudi Arabia, as Pakistan had no passport laws at the time.
“Asad then went to Liaquat Ali Khan,” Chughtai said, referring to Pakistan’s first prime minister. “On Ali Khan’s special instruction, he was given the first passport issued by the Pakistani government. He kept that passport until his death in 1992.”
Asad’s lifelong association with Saudi Arabia began in 1927 during a Hajj trip to Makkah where he met and befriended King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, the first ruler of the Kingdom.
“The king invited me to stay in his realm,” Asad said in what is believed to be his last television interview, to the Islamic Information Service (IIS). “And I stayed for 6 years without interruption ... It was a wonderful experience, a wonderful time … He was one of the most outstanding men I have known.”
Asad remained close to the Saudi royal family and, many years later, would use this affinity to help forge Saudi-Pakistani ties. “Muhammad Asad was the pioneer in the establishment of friendly relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. He was very close to Prince Faisal who was the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia at that time,” Chughtai said, alluding to King Abdul Aziz’s son and successor to the throne.