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US students simulate Hajj journey
“Congratulations… You've just arrived in the holy city of Makkah," Mahmoud Gomaa, vice principal of the American Youth Academy, told students of First graders standing under a model airplane.
The event, at which older students built simulated Makka’s buildings and mountains, aimed at presenting the fifth pillar of Islam to Muslim students.
Gathered in a large room, Gomaa told about 400 students that they were in a safe place, asking them to get cleaned and put on simulated hajj cloths.
Afterwards, students were asked to lay under a tint to feel the experience of Muslim pilgrims when they arrive in Mina.
During the activity, Layalee Ahmad, an 8-year student, pointed to Mount Arafat and joined colleagues who stoned a simulated place of Satan.
Students also made simulated Udhiya and circled the Ka`bah 'Tawaf'.
"The prophet put it there when he and his son were building the ka'bah," Layalee said.
Tracking Hager's steps, students end their day by Arafat and drinking Zamzam water.
This is the sixth year the academy organized the hajj stimulation to familiarize students with the rite.
Muslims from around the world pour to Makkah every year to perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, which will start on Tuesday, October 14.
Hajj consists of several ceremonies, which are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.
Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.
Hosting non-Muslim students, hajj stimulation offered young Muslim children a unique compromise between their identity and people of other faiths.
"Outside our gates, we're a minority," Gomaa said.
"The best way is to open our doors so they will see and hear and then they will get the right message," he added while explaining that many people still have little knowledge about Islam.
US Muslims, estimated at between seven to eight million.
Hajj is officially expected to fall between October 13 and 18, with the climax falling on October 14 when the faithful descend the Mount `Arafat.
`Eid Al Adha will start on Tuesday, October 15, according to Saudi Islamic Justice authorities.
Source: On Islam