SAUDI ARABIA: 'An end to me'
The pilgrim group we’re accompanying entered the sanctified state of ihram yesterday before traveling to Mecca — symbolically donning identical white towels and robes. This first ihram stage lasts less than a day, and is sort of a prelude for the more difficult longer ihram phase coming next week that includes all-day outdoor vigils and treks through the desert.
The following except is from the “The Hadj” by Michael Wolfe — an American journalist and Muslim convert who detailed the sights, scenes and emotions of his first pilgrimage.
“The ihram had a powerful impact on me too. For one thing, it put an end to my months of arrangements. In a way, it put an end to me as well. The uniform cloth defeats class distinctions and cultural fashion. Rich and poor are lumped together in it, looking like penitents in a Bosch painting. The ihram is as democratic as a death shroud.”
— Ashraf Khalil in Mecca