Yaqoob Malik is in Charleston as part of a U.S.-Pakistan partnership program arranged by the International Center for Journalists, in Washington, D.C.
CHARLESTON, W.Va.--At least four couples from the Charleston area were among the more than 2 million Muslims who journeyed to Saudi Arabia to perform the hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to the city of Mecca.
Dr. Shahid Masood and his wife, Aliya Masood, a communications graduate from West Virginia State University, were among the pilgrimage group. The couple, originally from Pakistan, have lived in Charleston since 1997.
All of the group left Charleston on Oct. 7 and returned on Oct. 18.
Of the about 200 Muslim families in the Charleston area, about 80 are originally from Pakistan, she said, and many of those had already performed the hajj. Going on the pilgrimage is the fifth pillar of Islam, and she and her husband have now fulfilled that religious obligation.
"You can imagine that about 1.5 million people all around the world, of different colors, languages, races and classes were gathered for the hajj, but there is an ideal discipline, equality unity and brotherhood instead of any kind of indifference and classification," she said.
She said that Saudi government had, as usual, done an amazing job of making arrangements to accommodate the pilgrims. The area was very clean, she said, despite the massive gathering of people.
Upon their return, the pilgrims brought dates, tasbeeh (prayer beads) and ab-e-zam zam (holy water), which they distributed among the relatives and friends. It's a tradition that every pilgrim brings such things from Mecca after performing the hajj.
The trip was the second hajj for another pilgrim, Mrs. Ahmed Khalid, who follows the tradition of some Muslim women by being referred to under her husband's name. Both are doctors, and the pilgrimage was the first for her husband.