RealNews

Pilgrims Find Changes on Both Ends of Journey

On the way home from the hajj, his emotion-laden pilgrimage to Islam’s holy shrines in Saudi Arabia, Shamsul Quadir began to worry that he might get in trouble for coming back a changed man. “I left clean-shaven and with a full head of hair, and now look at me,” Mr. Quadir said after clearing the immigration and customs booths at Kennedy International Airport in New York on Friday. Indeed, Mr. Quadir, a Pakistan-born shopkeeper from Louisiana, wore a five-day growth of dark beard, and when he shyly lifted his baseball cap he revealed a bare, shiny scalp. In the Muslim tradition, he had shaved his head as a sign of piety, and his appearance did not quite match his passport picture. “I was a little scared,” he said, “with all the security issues.” So it was for many American Muslims on their homecoming from this year’s annual religious pilgrimage to the birthplace of Islam, an event that would normally stand as the unalloyed religious high point of their lives. Full Story

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