‘Hajj after 1950’ in Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam, edited by Venetia Porter, The British Museum Press, London, 2011

Hajj‘Proclaim the pilgrimage to all people. They will come on foot and on the backs of swift camels from distant corners of the earth.’ – Qur’an, surat al-Hajj vs 27-30.

It is a sacred duty for Muslims, wherever they may reside, to go at least once in their lives to Mecca, the heartland of Islam where the Prophet Muhammad received the revelation in the early 7th century. Drawing millions of pilgrims annually, the Hajj is a powerful bond that brings Muslims together from across the world. It takes place in the twelfth month of the Muslim year dhu’l hijja. Over the course of one week a number of specific rituals are performed which involve circumambulation of the Ka’ba, the cube-shaped building in the centre of the sanctuary at Mecca, and visiting key sites.

Tracing the footsteps and personal experiences of pilgrims across the centuries, this fascinating book takes the reader on a physical and spiritual journey. The spirit of Hajj is further evoked through a wealth of illustrations, including personal objects carried by pilgrims throughout the centuries; souvenirs collected along the route; early travel photographs; maps; manuscripts; wall paintings; compasses and astrolabes; textiles and contemporary art works and images that capture the scale and emotional intensity of Hajj today.