Mecca in Morocco

Articulations of Muslim Pilgrimage in Moroccan Everyday Life

Kholoud Al-Ajarma

Hardback (Forthcoming)

An ethnographic study that examines the socio-cultural embeddedness of the Hajj in present day Moroccan society

  • Provides the first single-country ethnography on the Hajj which discusses Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca as a religious, cultural, and socio-political phenomenon
  • Adopts a ‘360 degrees’ analysis of contemporary pilgrimages to Mecca from Morocco, researching it in various stages, from preparation, to the actual pilgrimage, to the aftermath
  • Utilises a well delineated methodology to reflect various social relations of pilgrims, identifications, and power structures that shape their life worlds
  • Pursues a different aspect of the Muslim pilgrimage experience in each chapter, presenting new findings and arguments
  • Appeals to specialists on the Hajj, those interested in the broader field of pilgrimage studies and Islamic studies

This book concerns the ways in which the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj, is embedded in Moroccan society. Approaching pilgrimage from the perspective of lived religion, the book seeks to answer the question: How does Hajj feature in the everyday lives of Moroccans and how are Moroccan views on Hajj are negotiated in pilgrims’ micro-practices? The red thread that runs through this book is the argument that although the Hajj is performed in a place far away from Morocco, taking Moroccans out of their daily life worlds, the practices, experiences, and the meanings that they attach to Hajj are shaped by, and in turn go on to shape, their life and world upon return. The chapters of the book demonstrate - - from different perspectives - how the everyday Moroccan context shapes pilgrims’ perceptions of their experience in Mecca and, in return, how after having completed Hajj they position themselves and are positioned as members of their community. Particularly important are the myriad ways in which the experience of being a ḥājj/ ḥājja shapes their everyday life.


1. Theoretical Framework and Methodology

Part One: The Pilgrimage to Mecca: A Tripartite Process of Preparation, Pilgrimage and Aftermath

2. Before Departure: Motivations for Hajj Performance and the Creation of a Muslim Moral Habitus

3. In the Hajj: A Sensory Experience that ‘Cannot be Described in Words’

4. After Hajj: Refashioning of the Self as al-Ḥājj /al-Ḥājja

Part Two: Identity and Politics

5. Hajj and Moroccan National Identity

6. Saudi Hajj Management through Moroccan Eyes

7. Intersecting Power Structures in Moroccan Women’s Narratives of the Hajj

Part Three: The Pilgrimage: Informing Everyday Life

8. ‘Ḥajj al-MiskĪn’:: Moroccan Local Pilgrimage Introduction

9. Constituted Everydayness: Singing of Mecca and the Pilgrimage in Morocco

10. The Pilgrimage of the Cat and other Hajj Stories: Performing Piety and Moral Transformation through Storytelling

Conclusion: Mecca in Morocco: manifestations of the Hajj in everyday Moroccan Life



By interpreting personal stories about experiences with the pilgrimage to Mecca from people who are differentially positioned within Morocco’s wider socio-cultural context and constellation of power relations, Al-Ajarma presents a richly documented and most convincing argument concerning the meanings of Mecca in Moroccan imaginaries. 

M.W. Buitelaar, University of Groningen

Written with utmost clarity, this book is an illuminating account of both Islam and pilgrimage. Drawing on vivid ethnographic observations of how the Hajj is manifested in Morocco, Al-Ajarma provides us with vital insights on ethics, affect, narrative and the rituals of everyday life.

Simon Coleman, University of Toronto and author of Powers of Pilgrimage
Kholoud Al-Ajarma is a Lecturer in the Globalised Muslim World at Alwaleed Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World, Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Edinburgh. She completed her PhD in Anthropology and Comparative Study of Religion at the University of Groningen. She holds MPhil in Anthropology and Development from the University of Bergen, and MA in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution from Coventry University. She has research and work experience in the study of Islam in the contemporary world and have worked and conducted research in several countries including Palestine, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, Chile, Norway, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Her research areas include Islam and Muslim societies, education, refugee rights, media, gender, migration, and climate change among others. In addition to her academic work, Al-Ajarma is a refugee rights advocate and award-winning photographer and film-maker whose films and photography has been exhibited in more than fifteen countries.

Recommend to your Librarian

Request a Review Copy

Also in this series

You might also like ...