Guests of God: Pilgrimage and Politics in the Islamic World

Paperback | April 8, 2008

byRobert Bianchi

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Each year, about two million pilgrims from over 100 countries converge on the Islamic holy city of Mecca for the hajj. While the hajj is first and foremost a religious festival, it is also very much a political event. No government can resist the temptation to manipulate the hajj for politicaland economic gain. Every large Muslim state has developed a comprehensive hajj policy and a powerful bureaucracy to enforce it. The Muslim world's leading multinational organization, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, has established the first international regime explicitly devoted topilgrimage. Yet, Robert Bianchi argues, no secular or religious authority - national or international - can really control the hajj. State-sponsored pilgrimage management consistently backfires, giving government opponents valuable ammunition and allowing them to manipulate the symbols andcontroversies of the hajj to their own ends. Bianchi has been researching the hajj for over ten years and draws on interviews with and data from hajj directors in five Muslim countries (Pakistan, Malaysia, Turkey, Indonesia, and Nigeria), statistics from Saudi Arabian hajj authorities, as well ashis personal experience as a pilgrim. The result is the most complete picture of the hajj available anywhere, and a wide-ranging work on Islam, politics, and power.

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Each year, about two million pilgrims from over 100 countries converge on the Islamic holy city of Mecca for the hajj. While the hajj is first and foremost a religious festival, it is also very much a political event. No government can resist the temptation to manipulate the hajj for politicaland economic gain. Every large Muslim state...

University of Chicago and has taught political science at the American University in Cairo, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Chicago. He is the author of Interest Groups and Political Development in Turkey (1984) and Unruly Corporatism: Associational Life in Twentieth-Century Egypt (1989). He made the hajj in 1989...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.68 inPublished:April 8, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195342119

ISBN - 13:9780195342116

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"Robert Bianchi describes the Hajj as 'magical'. Guests of God is no less so. Melding social science analysis, history, public policy, Islamic studies, personal narrative, and travelogue Bianchi takes his readers on a Hajj of their own. From Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, Malaysia, Turkey, Nigeria,and elsewhere Bianchi reveals the mechanics, the politics, and the spiritual dimensions of perhaps the world's greatest regularized movement of people. Relying on brilliant scholarship, elegant writing, and rare insight this book is truly a colossal achievement." --Jerrold D. Green, Director ofInternational Programs and Development and Director of the Center for Middle East Public Policy, RAND