A Season in Mecca

Narrative of a Pilgrimage

Abdellah Hammoudi; Translated from the French by Pascale Ghazaleh

Hill and Wang

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An unforgettable report on one man's hajj--the sacred rite that brings millions of Muslims to Mecca every year
In 1999, the Moroccan scholar Abdellah Hammoudi, trained in Paris and teaching in America, decided to go on the pilgrimage to Mecca. He wanted to observe the hajj as an anthropologist but also to experience it as an ordinary pilgrim, and to write about it for both Muslims and non-Muslims. Here is his intimate, intense, and detailed account of the Hajj--a rare and important document by a subtle, learned, and sympathetic writer.
Hammoudi describes not just the adventure, the human pressures, and the social tumult--everything from the early preparations to the last climactic scenes in the holy shrines of Medina and Mecca--but also the intricate politics and amazing complexity of the entire pilgrimage experience. He pays special heed to the effects of Saudi bureaucratic control over the Hajj, to the ways that faith itself becomes a lucrative source of commerce for the Arabian kingdom, and to the Wahhabi inflections of the basic Muslim message.
Here, too, is a poignant discussion of the inner voyage that pilgrimage can mean to those who embark on it: the transformed sense of daily life, of worship, and of political engagement. Hammoudi acknowledges that he was spurred to reconsider his own ideas about faith, gesture, community, and nationality in unanticipated ways. This is a remarkable work of literature about both the outer forms and the inner meanings of Islam today.

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A Season in Mecca
1DEPARTURESMY DEPARTURE FOR ISLAM'S HOLY SITES WAS NO EASY MATTER. There were the time-consuming travel preparations, and then long weeks spent going through the procedures required for the pilgrimage--complicated further by my being a resident of both the United States and Morocco.But this was the common lot of every pilgrim who in the same circumstances chose to undertake the trip to Mecca that spring of the year 1419 of the Hegira--that is, 1999. What took me by surprise was that a malaise engulfed me, and I couldn't tell whether it would intensify or disappear.

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Praise for A Season in Mecca

“[A] moving and sometimes painful book . . . Mr. Hammoudi infuses this social and personal drama with meditations on ritual, travel, family, state power and the ceaseless desire for global communion, aspects of religious life that have guided the footsteps of pilgrims of all faiths since ancient Egypt. His is a book of surpassing intelligence, humor, sadness and grace.” —Richard B. Woodward, New York Times
 
“[Hammoudi’s] observations offer readers an intimate, insider’s account of the minutiae of a hajj, particularly intriguing for those of us who will never be able to come any closer. Equally engaging are the moments when the anthropologist disappears and Hammoudi surrenders to feeling he can’t explain.” —Marjorie Kehe, The Christian Science Monitor

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About the Author

Abdellah Hammoudi; Translated from the French by Pascale Ghazaleh

Abdellah Hammoudi was born in El Kelaa des Sraghna, Morocco. Educated at the University of Rabat and the Sorbonne, he joined the faculty of Princeton University in 1991 as a professor of anthropology; in 1995-2004 he was also director of Princeton's Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. there. His books include The Victim and Its Masks (1993) and Master and Disciple (1997). He and his wife, Miriam Lowi, and their two children divide their time between Princeton and his native Morocco.

Abdellah Hammoudi

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Available Formats and Book Details

A Season in Mecca
Narrative of a Pilgrimage
Abdellah Hammoudi; Translated from the French by Pascale Ghazaleh

Hardcover

Hardcover
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Hill and Wang
January 2006
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780809076093
ISBN10: 0809076098
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 304 pages, 2 Maps
$26.00

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Hill and Wang
January 2006
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429998673
ISBN10: 1429998679
304 pages
$7.99
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