A month or two ago, Waranga Wassimi didn’t often wear the head scarf commonly worn by fellow female Muslims.
That has changed since she returned from the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca undertaken by all Muslims who are able at some point in their lifetime.
Wassimi and her husband, Nasrat, were one of seven local families to take the journey this year. A reception was held in their honor Friday night at the Islamic Society of Augusta.
It’s a blessing to have so many Hajjis, Imam Majed Sabke said. “They are an example to the community,” he said.
Most traveled to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia from Nov. 28 to Dec. 10.
“Ours were express (trips),” Wassimi said. “Some people go for months.”
Either way, it makes for a life-changing journey, she said.
“It was amazing there. It was such a beautiful place,” Wassimi said. “We prayed most of the time.”
Wassimi also shopped for items to bring home, including a Quran and prayer rug.
“It changed me,” she said. “Before I wouldn’t wear my head scarf often. Before I was rushing though my prayers. Now, I pray with all my heart. I wear my head scarf. People can see I’m Muslim, and it makes me proud.”
The generosity and goodwill Faheem Nusrat witnessed was “inspiring,” he said.
The Grovetown resident and his wife spent three days in Medina and nine days in Mecca. They visited the Kaaba, the most sacred site in Islam, at midnight, thinking they would avoid the crowds. But there were millions of pilgrims there praying, regardless of the time of day, Nusrat said.
Name a country, and pilgrims from that place could be found in Mecca.
“The link between them was God,” he said.