Section from The Travels of Ibn Jubayr
Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and races here in this Ancient Holy Land, the home of Abraham, Muhammad and all the other Prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colors. I have been blessed to visit the Holy City of Mecca …Never have I been so highly honored. Never have I been made to feel more humble and unworthy.
El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) (1925–1965)

The desire to perform Hajj has inspired Muslims since the beginning of Islam. The journey, the sight of the sacred cities and the rituals of the Hajj themselves have moved many pilgrims to record their experiences. In this section we highlight some of these accounts and also consider three important photographers of the Hajj. Coming from different parts of the world and from different moments in time, their accounts and documentation provide unique perspectives on the unique phenomenon of the Hajj.

Pilgrims from the Islamic lands highlights five prominent Muslim travellers: the famous Andalucian Ibn Jubayr (1183); the Ottoman cavalryman Evliya Çelebi (d.1685); the Ottoman judge Mehmed Edib (1779) and Nawab Sikander, the Begum of Bhopal (1864).

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Pilgrims from Europe considers the accounts of five interesting Europeans. The Italian traveller Ludovico di Varthema (1503); Joseph Pitts (1680) the sailor from Exeter captured by Barbary pirates; Sir Richard Burton (1853) who went in disguise, and two British Muslims, the intrepid Lady Evelyn Cobbold (1933) and the explorer and writer Harry St John Philby(1931).

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Photographers of the Hajj focuses on three important 19th century pioneers who between them photographed the holy cities, pilgrims and the rituals of Hajj: The Egyptian Muhammad Sadiq Bey (1880), the Dutchman Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje (1884) and the Meccan doctor al-Sayyid ‘Abd al-Ghaffar.

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Hajj going from the UK today looks at the accounts of Muslims going on Hajj from cities throughout Britain; also highlighted is the travel diary of Saleena Nurmohamed who performed Hajj with her family in 2006.

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Supported by

Arts and Humanities Research Council