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Guests of GodPilgrimage and Politics in the Islamic World$
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Robert R. Bianchi

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195171075

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0195171071.001.0001

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Pilgrimage and Power

Pilgrimage and Power

(p.37) 3 Pilgrimage and Power
Guests of God

Robert R. Bianchi (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Debates over the politics of pilgrimage revolve around three key questions. Do pilgrimages tend to fall under the control of entrenched authorities–secular and religious–or do they remain independent social movements inherently hostile to hierarchy and hegemony? Do pilgrimages encourage universal and egalitarian identities or do they harden parochial loyalties already dividing nations, sects, and social groups? And are modernization and globalization destroying pilgrimages or making them more vigorous than ever–reducing them to quasi-secular tourism or turning them into truly worldwide expressions of spiritual revivals? Although there is truth in both explanations, Western narrators tend to view the hajj as a bulwark of the status quo whereas Muslims overwhelmingly see it as embodying irrepressible demands for equality and universal community–a vision that inevitably contradicts parochial identities, including nationalism.

Keywords:   equality, universal community, hierarchy, nationalism, status quo, hegemony

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