At a website guests circle in Maryland, Mona Eldadah watched her father plodding in circles.
Hadi Rahnama, 77, was strolling spherical a black cube, a copy of the Kaaba shrine in Mecca, to disclose the tawaf, or ritual prayer, that Muslims perform as soon as they go to the shrine on the hajj.
Eldadah corrected her father.
“No, Daddy, the concept is that the automobile is definitely going to do the tawaf,” she acknowledged. “It is a drive-through.”
That is the time of 12 months when many Muslims undertake the pilgrimage to Mecca known as the hajj.
However the coronavirus pandemic has prompted Saudi Arabia to limit access to a restricted number of Saudis and foreigners dwelling contained in the dominion.
So Eldadah created a miniature mannequin of the hajj remaining Sunday in Sandy Spring, Md., completed by car to keep up people shielded from COVID-19.
Religiously speaking, it was not another choice to the true hajj, which all Muslims ought to try and make of their lifetime.
Rahnama had made the true pilgrimage to Mecca thrice, the place he joined a river of Muslims, all sporting white, circling throughout the black monument.
“No person is aware of whether or not they're poor or they're wealthy or no matter. Equality 100 p.c,” he acknowledged. “And that's the great thing about the entire thing.”
Eldadah, 43, had consider to be in Mecca this week, sporting a flowing white embroidered tunic that her mother-in-law wore on her private hajj.
She is ingenious director of Next Wave Muslim Initiative, a Montgomery County, Md. Islamic nonprofit. She proposed to her colleagues that they seize the holiday spirit by car — similar to a drive to see Christmas lights.
“All you are doing is type of looking out of your window,” she acknowledged. “However you get within the festivities of the season. So I stated, , we might do the identical factor.”
Eldadah hosted the mock pilgrimage at Sandy Spring Associates Faculty, the place three of her children went to highschool and a fourth is about to start out out inside the fall. Eldadah wore her heirloom tunic and a face masks and directed buddies to stations the place they could reenact the rites she was missing.
First, automobiles drove spherical a copy of the Kaaba, which Eldadah made by draping black flannel over PVC pipes. In distinction to the strolling swirl of humanity in Mecca, in Sandy Spring, Hondas and Teslas drove throughout the monument.
The friends would possibly then hear a reside chanting of the prayer recited on Mount Arafat, which pilgrims on hajj go to to commemorate the place the Prophet Muhammad gave his remaining sermon.
That was important for Ranwa Abdelnabi, 45, who these days moved from Egypt alongside together with her husband and daughter. She acknowledged the last few months have been isolating.
“It takes time to essentially construct sturdy relationships, so the pandemic isn't serving to that,” Abdelnabi acknowledged.
At one different station, 6-year-old Yaseen Khan leaned out of a white minivan to throw pebbles at a cardboard pillar. That evoked the hajj ceremony of casting stones to drive out the devil.
His father Faisal Khan, 41, acknowledged he's been avoiding mosques as a result of pandemic. However he nonetheless wanted to indicate his two boys regarding the trip.
“It positively feels far more secure once we're in a automobile, not near a bunch of individuals. It is very nice what they did,” acknowledged Khan.
Islamic colleges often educate children using a miniature hajj, acknowledged Hurunnessa Fariad, who heads outreach on the All Dulles Space Muslim Society Middle in Sterling, Va., considered one of many largest mosques inside the nation. These indoor pilgrimages are principally canceled this 12 months, nonetheless. Fariad acknowledged she in no way heard of a drive-through.
“That is the primary 12 months I noticed that, due to COVID. I assumed it was actually cute to maintain the youngsters and the households engaged,” she acknowledged.
This innovation is part of a improvement all through religions of in the hunt for new strategies of holding the faith all through a pandemic. One Los Angeles cantor presided over a “Automotive Mitzvah” celebration in a car parking zone. Church buildings hosted drive-in services.
Fatimeh Asi, a 38-year-old homemaker and mother of three daughters, acknowledged she found the Maryland drive-through hajj refreshing. She stepped out of her blue Tesla and stood, masked, with associates near the car parking zone. Asi acknowledged she marked Ramadan by tuning into Zoom sermons and totally different holidays with smaller family gatherings, nevertheless not typically seen members of her congregation inside the pandemic.
“That is the very first real-deal neighborhood feeling, and my children feeling like they're seeing the remainder of the neighborhood,” she acknowledged. “That is the primary.”
Eldadah estimates about 500 people received right here to the drive-through pilgrimage. The friends moreover left about $2,000 in donations for the needy, she acknowledged. Eldadah acknowledged she hoped the “pilgrims” drove away impressed to go on the true journey as quickly as it's potential.