Dressed in white flowing robes, hundreds of young Muslims praised God as they walked through a Dearborn mosque in a simulation of the Islamic pilgrimage under way in Saudi Arabia.
"It makes you want to cry," Tamara Fiema of Dearborn said Tuesday after her 7-year-old daughter encircled a replication of the Kaaba -- the black cube in Mecca that Muslims consider a holy site.
Held at the Islamic Center of America, the ceremony was a vivid display of the growing role that Islamic education plays in the lives of many young metro Detroiters.
About 360 students, ages 3 to 14, recited Islamic prayers and walked around the Kaaba seven times. They later hurled crumpled pieces of foil -- representing pebbles used during the real hajj in Saudi Arabia -- at three pillars that symbolized the devil.
"What a beautiful scene," Salah Hazime, 53, of Dearborn said as he watched his 8-year-old son walk.
The children are students at the Muslim American Youth Academy, which is affiliated with the Islamic Center, a Shi'ite mosque that is one of the largest in the United States.
In recent years, the number of students participating in the ceremony has increased, reflecting the Muslim community's growth and the importance parents place on teaching Islam to their children.