Some 16,000 Muslims from the United States are in Saudi Arabia this week to perform the hajj pilgrimage, one of Islam’s most sacred experiences. If the hajj is performed with sincere intentions, Muslims believe it can wipe away past sins, purify the soul and alleviate worldly stresses.
This year, however, Muslims say they have never been more anxious traveling abroad than now, under the Trump administration’s rules, which unleashed protests across the country and confusion at airports earlier this year.
Those performing the hajj say that while it’s never been exactly stress-free to fly as a Muslim in America, the new climate under President Donald Trump has heightened anxieties about traveling to Saudi Arabia, where the hajj is performed. The hajj, which runs for five days and ends Monday, draws some 2 million people from around the world each year. All Muslims with the means to do so are required to make the pilgrimage at least once.