Muslim Pilgrimage in the Modern World
Author(s): Babak Rahim & Peyman Eshaghi
Reviewed by: Sajjad Rizvi
Reviewed by: Sajjad Rizvi, University of Exeter, UK
Published by: Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2019, x+277pp. ISBN: 978-1469651460.
Anyone who has even a basic familiarity with Islam would know that the Ḥajj pilgrimage is considered a ritual obligation for believers. Research on the Ḥajj as a prism into social, cultural, economic and intellect history is thriving – and has especially informed our understanding of the colonial period and the modes of continuity and discontinuity into the modern period: Lale Can’s study of the Ottoman and Central Asian context, Aliyah Khan on the Caribbean, Eileen Kane on the Russian Ḥajj, John Slight’s work on the British Imperial Ḥajj, Dženita Karić on the Bosnian Ḥajj and so forth. These studies reveal much about identity, belonging, and confession as well as the shifting modes of global communities. The real strength of this volume under review is to open up the meaning of pilgrimage as a religious journey that takes into consideration the whole person, the embodied and socially embedded nature of the person of religious commitment and draws some insights from the trend towards New Materialism. As such Rahimi and Eshaghi after presenting a very thorough and useful introduction to the field, collect the leading specialists and their papers in three parts: first on rethinking pilgrimage as historical, political, and transnational, second on considering the materiality and embodiment of pilgrimage and its interactions with memory and piety, and third on the role of space, communication and new media in the mixture. While pilgrimage (ziyārah) is a theological category, there is far more at work – and play – within pilgrimages than devotion to God and/or the saint. The editors before introducing the contribution provide a useful set of seven themes that unite the phenomenon of pilgrimage and