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The Hadj: An American's Pilgrimage to Mecca
     

The Hadj: An American's Pilgrimage to Mecca

by Michael Wolfe
 

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The Hadj, or sacred journey, is the pilgrimage to the house of God at Mecca that all Muslims are asked to make once in their lifetimes. One of the world’s longest-lived religious rites, having continued without break for fourteen hundred years, it is, like all things Islamic, shrouded in mystery for Westerners. In The Hadj, Michael Wolfe, an American who

Overview

The Hadj, or sacred journey, is the pilgrimage to the house of God at Mecca that all Muslims are asked to make once in their lifetimes. One of the world’s longest-lived religious rites, having continued without break for fourteen hundred years, it is, like all things Islamic, shrouded in mystery for Westerners. In The Hadj, Michael Wolfe, an American who converted to Islam, recounts his own journey a pilgrim, and in doing so brings readers close to the heart of what the pilgrimage means to a member of the religion that claims one-sixth of the world’s population. Not since Sir Richard Burton’s account of the pilgrimage to Mecca over one hundred years ago has a Western writer described the Hadj in such fascinating detail.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In an engaging and instructive account of his experiences as a Muslim pilgrim to Mecca, California freelance writer, editor and publisher Wolfe lifts the veil for Western readers on this ancient and sacred duty of Islam, simultaneously presenting a lively and sympathetic picture of Muslims. Wolfe, a self-described ``mongrel'' son of a Christian mother and a Jewish father, says he wanted not to ``trade in'' his culture in his recent conversion to Islam, but to find ``access to new meanings'' and ``an escape route from the isolating terms of a materialistic culture.'' He explores new meanings through readings in translation of Islamic literature, religion and history, but most of all in discussions with other men, especially the wise, folksy and enthusiastic Mostopha, with whom he spends Ramadan. (Not surprisingly, the only woman of note in the book is Mostopha's wife Qadisha who, it seems, is always cooking.) The pilgrimage itself is palpably detailed with its intense heat, ardor, bonding, visits to holy sites, multitude of prayers, rules, illnesses and kindnesses, all shared by the more than a million pilgrims who crowd this awesome holy ritual. (Aug.)
Mary Ellen Sullivan
Malcolm X. The Ayatolla. Muhammad Ali. Cat Stevens. Names are about all most Americans know of Islam, though it is the religion of more than a billion people. Wolfe decided to write a book introducing Islam to Westerners more personally, and with his account of his hadj, or pilgrimage, to Islam's most sacred city, he succeeds. He reports both inner and outer journeys, the former being his deepening understanding of Islam. Converted about 10 years ago, Wolfe still feels an outsider and novice, and as such he tells his story. Yet his knowledge of the religion counterpoints that attitude, so that his voice becomes a teacher's as well as a student's. His descriptions of daily life and the cities he visited conjure the dusty mysteriousness and frenetic pace associated with the Mideast. Meanwhile, the conversations with the people he spent time with reveal an equally rich but much serener inner life. His perspective makes the crucial difference for solidly introducing the Westerner to the spirit and flavor of Islam: this is the book not of a fanatic, but of a man on a journey.
From the Publisher

"Wolfe has perhaps provided the clearest statement of an American Muslim since Malcolm X." —Journal of Near Eastern Studies

"The most engaging of travel books . . . his pilgrimage will move people of all faiths—and of none at all, because it describes a universal journey for meaning, transcendence and peace." —The Literary Review

"Wolfe lifts the veil on this ancient and sacred duty, simultaneously presenting a lively and sympathetic picture of Muslims." —Publishers Weekly

"It requires a special sensitivity to write well about the Hadj. . . . Michael Wolfe’s tone is exactly right." —The Times Literary Supplement

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802192196
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
11/19/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
File size:
4 MB

Meet the Author

Michael Wolfe is the author of eleven books of poetry, fiction, and travel. In 1990, he made the pilgrimage to Mecca and subsequently wrote two books on the subject, The Hadj: An American’s Pilgrimage to Mecca and One Thousand Roads to Mecca: Ten Centuries of Travelers Writing about the Muslim Pilgrimage. For 15 years he was the publisher of Tombouctou Books. He is currently Co-Executive Producer and President of Unity Productions Foundation, a nonprofit media company that produces documentary films for television.

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