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jueves, 8 de noviembre de 2012

The Rebirth

By ahassoun  |  Posted October 12, 2012  |  Long Island City, New York
The Rebirth
CNN PRODUCER NOTE     iReporter ahassoun, a doctor living in Long Island, New York but originally from Iraq, captured these images of some of the holiest sites of Islam in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, while performing the 'Umrah', sometimes called the lesser Hajj. He undertook the Hajj itself in 1996, when he was 21. He said both experiences were remarkable, to see Muslims from across the world congregated in one place for one purpose.

 "It transformed me in the way I approach people, it taught me how to be very down to earth, to treat everything with humility, that there is no difference between us - no matter where we are," he said. He recommends first time pilgrims to obtain a guide if possible, saying the complex sequence of events to be performed and the sheer size and spectacle of the occasion can be overwhelming for the inexperienced.

Sarah Brown GB, CNN iReport producer

Hajj is an ancient ritual that goes back to the time of Abraham, yet for more than 1400 years this ritual had been one of the five pillars of Islam. I would call it a unique experience that teaches you humility, treats you with equality and shows you what life can be when you give up your pleasures for few days to please god and have your sins forgiven.
Despite how unusual for a youth to go for Hajj, I did mine at the age of 21. The experience was enriching and spiritual. I still remember how all men were dressed with two large white towels, no matter where they came from and how rich or poor they were. Women mixed with men, not segregated. They dressed in white dresses and cared for by their men. Which makes it an interesting image in a country, where gender separation is universal.
I walked through the doors after a long 12-hour trip from Medina "The northern city of Islam where Mohammed is buried" I remember the vivid image of people chanting "Here I am, O Allah, at your service; here I am at your service. Here I am at your service. You have no partner. All praise, all favors and all power are yours alone. You have no partner". Your heart start racing as you rush to see the Kaaba "The Black Cube", the holiest icon that Muslims around the world face five times a day for prayers.
The waves of people take you to the center where you encircle the Kaaba seven times, and you get to see some of the ancient relics, from the footprints of Abraham, the black stone and the Well of Zamzam. After that you go for a run between the hills of "Safa and Marwa" that memorize the run of Hagar to find a source of water for her son Ishmael.
I slept on the sand and ate simple food. This experience taught me that I should never take life for granted and think of others around me. No matter how much wealth, knowledge, high positions and degrees I have, at the end we are all humans and what makes a man is his story and memory.
Each religion, faith and Idea contributed to the country we live in. At the end "All Men Are Created Equal" is the message the founding fathers passed to us and maybe we need to look at our history to find the common grounds and stop highlighting the differences.
Fifteen years later I went for another, out of the season visit, we call it "Umra" and for the first time I was able to capture with my camera some of these moments. Thought of sharing them with you to have a feel of what this experience is.

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