chapter  3
14 Pages

Beyond the bounds of time?

The Haj pilgrimage from the Indian subcontinent, 1865–1920
WithSaurabh Mishra

This chapter aims to bring out the various changes taking place in the organization, nature and meaning of the Haj from South Asia. It demonstrates the continuous interaction between various aspects of the Haj: its medical, commercial and political facets. The chapter seeks to reveal the turbulent developments underneath the apparently placid surface of the Haj and tried to break the myth of the ‘timelessness’ of the pilgrimage. The pilgrimage to Mecca is a subject of overwhelming importance for Islamic scholars. A supreme symbol of unsullied faith, it soars above mere materialities in their writings. The Haj occupied pride of place within nationalist accounts discussing the ‘Muslim question’, where it was identified as being reflective of broader transnational currents. For the British Indian administration, the question of the Haj was involved in an amalgam of medical, commercial and political issues.