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Travel delay for Mecca-bound N.Va. Muslims

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For months, the 17 Northern Virginians had excitedly prepared for the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca that is sacred to devout Muslims.

They had saved thousands of dollars for a package trip to Saudi Arabia, taken classes on the pilgrimage and promised to make prayers for friends and relatives. A California travel agency had arranged their tickets and gotten the visas for their passports, shipping them overnight via UPS.

But according to the travelers, the passports, which were supposed to have all been delivered last Tuesday, never arrived.

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“The UPS guy came,” said Cemal Gumus, the imam at Dar AlNoor mosque in Manassas and one of the travelers. “I said, ‘Man, where is my package?’ He said, ‘No, there is no package for you.’ ”

It took three days to track it down, Gumus said. At first, UPS said the package was lost. On Friday, hours before the group was scheduled to depart from Dulles International Airport, the group learned that the package had been seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

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After a flurry of phone calls, the passports were released and arrived Saturday. But by then, all but one of the travelers had missed their flight.

“Grown men were crying,” said Rafi Uddin Ahmed, vice president of the mosque and of the Manassas-based Muslim Association of Virginia. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Who knows if we’ll be alive next year, and if they miss out on this one important tenet of their religion, they may not have another chance.”

The hajj season comes once a year, and there is a limited window to enter Saudi Arabia before entries are cut off. The pilgrimage attracts more than 2 million Muslims; about 10,000 American Muslims go each year.

Read rest here.

Please make dua for these travelers and any others who may be facing difficulties in their hajj travels.  CAIR is asking any American Muslims who have experienced similar actions by UPS or CBP to file a report with CAIR.

“The American Muslim community needs to know whether packages sent from point to point within our borders are being screened based on the religion of the sender or recipient, and whether or not such packages can be seized and opened by government officials without a warrant,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Hena Zuberi is the Editor in Chief of Muslimmatters.org. She leads the DC office of the human rights organization, Justice For All, focusing on stopping the genocide of the Rohingya under Burma Task Force, advocacy for the Uighur people with the Save Uighur Campaign and Free Kashmir Action. She was a Staff Reporter at the Muslim Link newspaper which serves the DC Metro. Hena has worked as a television news reporter and producer for CNBC Asia and World Television News. Active in her SoCal community, Hena served as the Youth Director for the Unity Center. Using her experience with Youth, she conducts Growing Up With God workshops. hena.z@muslimmatters.org Follow her on Twitter @henazuberi.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Travel delay for Mecca-bound N.Va. Muslims | MuslimMatters.org -- Topsy.com

  2. someone

    November 10, 2010 at 2:18 PM

    they did get refunded for their missed flight and the hajj package itself. Inshallah next year may Allah perserve them and grant them patience and a gazillion other hajj oppertunaty

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