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Sylvania pupils mark pilgrimage to Mecca

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    Israa Hamdan, 7, is among the pupils dressing in traditional garb and prayer clothing.

    <Jeremy Wadsworth

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Teacher Mervat Ballut with Lila Mahmoud, 7, observe Hajj Day at Toledo Islamic Academy.

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Children from the Toledo Islamic Academy in Sylvania celebrated Hajj Day yesterday, imitating the rituals conducted each year during hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.

More than 2 million Muslims, including an estimated 10,000 from the United States, participated in the hajj this year. Among the pilgrims was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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Israa Hamdan, 7, is among the pupils dressing in traditional garb and prayer clothing.

Jeremy Wadsworth Enlarge

Between 20 and 30 people from the Toledo area made the journey to Mecca and other holy sites in Saudi Arabia this year, according to Imam Farooq Abo-Elzahab of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo.

The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, and all Muslims who are physically able are required to make the pilgrimage at least once during their lifetimes.

At Toledo Islamic Academy, children celebrated Hajj Day by wearing traditional garb and prayer clothing and walking across the property of the school, which opened in the former Cathedral of Praise building on Alexis Road in June.

The students also performed rituals like the ones conducted in Saudi Arabia, including walking counterclockwise seven times around the Kaaba, the cube-shaped structure at the center of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, and throwing pebbles at the columns in Mina that symbolize the Devil.

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Prekindergarten teacher Roueida Hakki talks to Ali Jomma, 4, in Sylvania yesterday during the Toledo Islamic Academy s annual Hajj Day re-enactment of the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

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Muslims end the hajj with a feast, usually made of goat or lamb sacrificed in remembrance of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah. At the school, however, the pupils had an all-American meal of hot dogs and hamburgers.

The school had scheduled Hajj Day for Monday, but delayed it because of the snowstorm.

Masjid Saad, 5225 West Alexis Rd., will celebrate Eid ul-Adha, marking the end of the Hajj, after today's 8:30 a.m. prayer service, and the holiday will be observed tomorrow morning after 10 a.m. prayers at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, 25877 Scheider Rd., Perrysburg Township.

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