Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
A Season in Mecca

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.


A Season in Mecca

MY 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...


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

Reviews from Goodreads

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

Pascale Ghazaleh

From the Publisher

Hill and Wang

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