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The Longest Journey Southeast Asians and the Pilgrimage to Mecca

ISBN: 9780195308280 | 019530828X
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Pub. Date: 4/12/2013

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The pilgrimage to Mecca, or Hajj, has been a yearly phenomenon of great importance in Muslim lands for well over one thousand years. Each year, millions of pilgrims from throughout the Dar al-Islam, or Islamic world, stretching from Morocco east to Indonesia, make the trip to Mecca as one ofthe five pillars of their faith. Records for this practice show that the majority of pilgrims in Islam's earliest centuries came from surrounding polities, such as Syria, Egypt, and Iraq. Yet by the end of the nineteenth century, and the beginning of the twentieth, fully half of all pilgrims makingthe journey in any one year could come from Southeast Asia. This is astonishing because of the distances traveled; sailing ships, and later huge steamers as described in Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim, plodded across the length of the Indian Ocean to disgorge pilgrims on Arabian docks. Yet the hugenumbers of Southeast Asian pilgrims may be even more phenomenal if one thinks of the spiritual distances traveled. The variants of Islam practiced in Southeast Asia have traditionally been seen as syncretic, making the effort, expense, and meaning of undertaking the Hajj hugely important in local life. Millions of Southeast Asians, from Southern Thailand into Malaysia and Singapore, from Indonesia up throughBrunei and the Southern Philippines, have now made this voyage. More undertake it every year. The movement of Islam in global spaces has become a topic of interest to states, scholars, and the educated reading public for many reasons. The Hajj is still the single largest transmission variant ofMuslim ideologies and fraternity in the modern world. This book attempts to write an overarching history of the Hajj from Southeast Asia, encompassing very early times all the way up until the present.


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