Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam

Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam

by Venetia Porter
     
 

The Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is the largest pilgrimage in the world today and a sacred duty for all Muslims. Each year, millions of the faithful from around the world make the pilgrimage to Makkah, the birthplace of Islam where the Prophet Muhammad received his revelation.

With contributions from renowned experts Muhammad Abdel Haleem, Hugh

Overview

The Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is the largest pilgrimage in the world today and a sacred duty for all Muslims. Each year, millions of the faithful from around the world make the pilgrimage to Makkah, the birthplace of Islam where the Prophet Muhammad received his revelation.

With contributions from renowned experts Muhammad Abdel Haleem, Hugh Kennedy, Robert Irwin, and Ziauddin Sardar, this fascinating book pulls together many strands of Hajj, its rituals, history, and modern manifestations. Travel was once a hazardous gamble, yet devoted Muslims undertook the journey to Makkah, documenting their experiences in manuscripts, wall paintings, and early photographs, many of which are presented here. Through a wealth of illustrations including pilgrims' personal objects, souvenirs, and maps, Hajj provides a glimpse into this important holy rite for Muslim readers already grounded in the tradition and non-Muslims who cannot otherwise participate.

Hajj does not, however, merely trace pilgrimages of the past. The Hajj is a living tradition, influenced by new conveniences and obstacles. Graffiti, consumerism, and state lotteries all now play a role in this time-honored practice. This book opens out onto the full sweep of the Hajj: a sacred path walked by early Islamic devotees and pre-Islamic Arabians; a sumptuous site of worship under the care of sultans; and an expression of faith in the modern world.

Editorial Reviews

Choice

[An] immensely rich cultural and historical source.
— M. Swartz

Choice - M. Swartz
[An] immensely rich cultural and historical source.
New York Times - Holland Cotter
Proactive spirituality is the propelling force beneath Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam...The subject is the great pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim is enjoined to make at least once and that millions embark on every year. The book takes you on every step of the route over centuries, through both extraordinary works of art dating from the eighth century to last year, and artifacts including mass-produced souvenirs--T-shirts emblazoned with 'Congratulations on your Hajj!'--created for the present-day pilgrimage industry.
Library Journal
Edited by Porter (curator, Islamic & modern Middle Eastern art, British Museum; Islamic Tiles), this title on the hajj explores the history of the pilgrimage to the birthplace of Islam, the rituals and experiences of the pilgrim, and the associated material culture. As explained in the preface, the volume takes a cross-disciplinary approach, considering its subject from the perspectives of religion, history, art history, and many other fields. Unfortunately, the resulting work feels unfocused and too wide-ranging. The individual essays are hit or miss; Karen Armstrong (Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time) provides an elegant and thought-provoking introduction on the act of pilgrimage across cultures, religions, and time, while the contribution by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem (Islamic studies, Univ. of London; Understanding the Qur'an: Themes and Style), though informative, seems more appropriate to a memoir than an historical volume. VERDICT The historical essays are well written and researched, though students of art history will lament the lack of explicit connections between objects and text. Students of history will enjoy the discussions of culture, politics, and biography. Though the work is somewhat fractured, scholars of Islamic culture or religious studies will appreciate this look at a subject worthy of further thought and research.—Jennifer Naimzadeh, Bamberg Cty. P.L., SC

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674062184
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
03/30/2012
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
1,196,339
Product dimensions:
9.76(w) x 10.94(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Venetia Porter is a Curator in the Department of the Middle East at the British Museum.

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