Hajj 2003

February 16, 2003

Source: The New York Times


On February 16, 2003 The New York Times reported that "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... 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... They also arrived, with a jolt, back in a country on heightened alert for hidden terrorists... Many of the returning pilgrims, disconnected from the press of daily news and living in vast tent cities in Mecca, learned only on their way home that the national threat level had been raised over fears of terror attacks timed to coincide with the end of the hajj."