Muslims pilgrims walk to perform ritual "stoning of the devil" in Mina, in Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2007. Thousands of Muslim pilgrims threw pebbles at stone pillar representing the devil in third day of Hajj carrying out a cleansing ritual at a site just outside the holy city of Mecca that has been the scene of disasters in previous years.(AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian)
CAPITOL HILL (AP) - Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim member of Congress, says he made the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca last
week, calling it a "transformative" experience.
The Minnesota Democrat traveled to the Saudi city along with about 3 million people. The journey is a lifelong dream for many Muslims.
Ellison says he learned a lot about himself and his faith, and was struck by the diversity of people who made the journey from all over the world.
Ellison said other pilgrims told him they hoped President-elect Barack Obama "might have a higher level of sensitivity" to Islam, since his middle name is Hussein and his father was a Muslim.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)