British Muslim Experiences of the Hajj

British Academy

British Museum

Arts & Humanities Research Council


    Up to 25,000 British Muslims travel annually to Makkah and its’ environs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to perform the great Islamic pilgrimage, the Hajj. As the fifth pillar (arkan) of Islam, the pilgrimage returns Muslims to the birthplace of their faith and is a duty once in their lifetime, so long as they have the health and wealth to do so. But how have the social, cultural, religious, economic and political dimensions of the pilgrimage been transformed in the late modern age?

    Insights into these aspects of British Muslims’ experiences are shared on this website. Based upon interdisciplinary research, it presents the work of Seán McLoughlin, who is now Professor of the Anthropology of Islam in the School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science at the University of Leeds.

    Visitors to this website can learn more about the context of Hajj-going in Britain, how it is organised and the experiences of British Muslims before, during and after their pilgrimages. Rather than an idealised account of the Hajj, it explores its lived realities, both spiritually inspired moments and more mundane and contested everyday experiences.

    A researcher at the BBC Natural History Unit interested in Rituals offered the following feedback in 2016: “Your audio clips … are great! And give us a fantastic understanding of the breadth of people’s relationship with Hajj, particularly in a very contemporary context”.

    In September 2015 Seán also spoke about his research to BBC Radio 5 live ‘Drive’ following the tragic events which saw more than 700 pilgrims lose their lives. Listen here.

    Hajj AHRCThe Arts & Humanities Research Council also commissioned Seán to produce an image gallery on Hajj, Ethnography and British Muslims as part of its 2015 10th Anniversary celebrations.

    This website has been made possible by the British Academy, which promotes research in the humanities and the social sciences. During 2013-14, the Academy awarded Seán a one-year Mid-Career Fellowship to communicate his work to community, industry and academic audiences in the UK and internationally, through exhibitions, talks, writing, social media and radio interviews. He has been supported, too, by the School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science, as well as the Cultural and Creative Industries Exchange at the University of Leeds.

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