December of 2023 I embarked on my umrah pilgrimage. I went with Qalam Institute which is based in Texas. This was my first time going and due to personal situations going on in my life, I don’t think I could have picked a better, more appropriate time to have gone as I needed this trip to clear my head of some personal matters.

 

One thing that particularly stood out to me was that I met people from various corners of the world imaginable. In America (and the west in general) the overwhelming majority of mosques serve a specific ethnic base. For example, people will often refer to mosques as “the Turkish mosque”, “The Bosnian mosque” “The Arab mosque” etc. As an immigration lawyer, I understand that the first or second generation of immigrant groups will often cluster together. This was also once the case with Catholic immigrants as well when you would have separate “Irish churches”, “Polish churches” or “Italian churches” for example, despite all belonging to the same faith. However, the issue with that is it often leads to an ethnic isolation from each other instead of building bridges with each other.

 

Conversely, you enter a mosque in any Muslim majority country, for understandable reasons, everyone in that particular mosque will also be of one particular background. Hence, the lack of diversity in mosques is the same regardless of where you are in the world.

 

Mecca and Medina was an exception to that rule because it was as if the whole world was present in Mecca and Medina. You would see and hear pilgrims speaking a multitude of languages all dressed in their different traditional clothes which made me think that if God is “One” therefore mankind is also “one” in a way.

 

In addition to racial representation, another ritual that reminded me of the common humanity of everyone was when men had to put on their white ihram. Every male who partakes in this pilgrimage has to wear this white outfit. When I was circling the Kaaba I was next to people from all over the world who were wearing this same “uniform”. In a way, it made everyone the same regardless of their socio-economic background. I could have been next to a multi billionaire and I would have never known simply because of how we were all dressed. This particular ritual allows the worshippers to focus on their relationship with God and not on their wealth.

 

I certainly benefitted from my umrah pilgrimage and I hope I can perform this pilgrimage again one day.