Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Journey in the Time of Covid

It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump over the Howard County line to Montgomery County where:

It’s a quick, three minute listen from NPR by Daniella Cheslow. For those of you who don’t know, and I myself didn’t know all that much, Hajj is a time of pilgrimage each year where Muslims are encouraged to make the journey to Mecca to visit the Kaaba, the “House of God”. It is both a physical and a spiritual journey. All Muslims are supposed to make this trip at least once in their lifetime, if they are able.

Hajj 2020 began in the evening of Tuesday, July 28th, and ends in the evening of Sunday, August 2nd.  This year’s Hajj is different than in years past because the coronavirus has prevented travel. A Muslim community in Montgomery County took a creative approach and made a drive-through Hajj. You’ll note in the radio piece that the event is held on the grounds of Sandy Spring Friends School, which is a Quaker institution. 

So, some creative thinking and some help from neighbors brought about this unique observance of an important religious experience. It reminded me of the COV-EID event hosted by the Dar Al Taqwa mosque in Howard County. Sadly, that event was met with complaints from area residents. Members of our local Muslim community experienced negative pushback that clearly came from a place where to be a Muslim is to be “other”.

In Montgomery County, a Quaker school opened its grounds to help make a Muslim event possible. What a beautiful sign of cooperation and friendship. In Howard County, Muslims were made to feel like transgressors when their festival celebration was on their own property. 

What a difference. Maybe Howard County could stand to take some instruction from our Montgomery County neighbors on inclusion and basic human kindness.

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