Pilgrimage to Mecca

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The purpose of this essay is to explore how Muslims in the Malay world fulfil the requirements of the hajj, as well as the Malay personal experience of the hajj. The significance of the Hajj in Islam can be considered best by exploring the symbolism of its rituals, the administration of those rituals, and their political and personal implications for both the Muslim individual and wider community. To each pilgrim, the hajj represents a time of heightened self-awareness, a reflection of one’s values and an enduring commitment to Allah. For these reasons, it is clear that the Hajj represents “much more than its theology alone” (Turner 1978: 106).

For a Muslim pilgrim of the Malay world, the Hajj is also experienced within the context of the kerajaan and Malay royalty, and simultaneously “subsumed beneath the doctrines of Malay nationalism” (Matheson & Milner 1984: 37). It is also experienced within a context of traditional Sufi, and Hindu-Buddhist beliefs which once dominated the Malay world. Further, through the requisite rituals of the ihram, tawaf, and s’ay, for example, Malay Muslims are able to gain a sense of spiritual elevation and significance during their Pilgrimage. With this in mind, my essay aims to explore the specific characteristics of Islam in the Malay world through examining the requisite rituals within the hajj. It will address the arrival of Islam in the Malay world, as well as how historical, political, social and cultural significance is drawn from the hajj experience.

How is the hajj fulfilled?

Obligatory rituals

To fully understand the spirituality that is felt throughout the general pilgrim experience, it is important to first explore the ritual aspects. Rituals are complex process, which are ult...

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Kamal, A 1961, The Sacred Journey, Van Rees Press: New York

Long, DE 1979, The Hajj Today: A survey of the Contemporary Makkah Pilgrimage, State University of New York Press: Albany.

Matheson, V & Milner, AC 1984, Perceptions of the Haj: Five Malay Texts, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies: Singapore.

Miller, MB 2006, ‘Pilgrims’ Progress: The Business of the Hajj’, Past and Present, vol. 191, no. 1, pp. 189-228, .

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Scupin, R 1982, ‘The Social Significance of the Hajj for Thai Muslims’, the Muslim World, vol. 72, no. 1, pp. 25-33, .

Turner, V 1978, Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture: Anthropological Perspectives, Columbia University Press: New York.

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