Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences
British-Muslim Accounts of the Hajj to Makkah
This paper explores the changing dynamics of British Pakistani Muslims’ experiences of the Islamic pilgrimage. Dr Seán McLoughlin is Head of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Leeds.This paper explores the changing dynamics of British Pakistani Muslims’ experiences of deciding to embark upon pilgrimage. In contrast to the expectations and religious imaginaries of their ancestors prior to Partition, their accounts are reflective of socio-economic and cultural shifts towards a religious normativity increasingly defined and performed in terms of self-identity and consumption. The study continues with an examination of respondents’ constructions of sacred time and place, community and identity, during recollections of the various Hajj rituals. However, profane inferences were never far away, with brotherhood and communitas cross-cut by competing narratives of socio-economic and political, as well as religious and racialised, differences and divisions. Finally, I assess pilgrims’ accounts of reintegrating into profane time and space back in the UK. The focus here is on the pervasive power of memories and souvenirs of the sacred alongside changing British-Pakistani expectations of a hajji(a) and divergent trajectories of Muslim religious identification, consciousness and practice in late modern Britain.
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