Monday, 22 April 2013

Conference Call: Penang and the Hajj 2013

Update (15 June 2013):

Official website:

I'm circulating the conference details which I received from Dr Lubis today. You can respond directly to him.

Call for Papers: Penang and the Hajj
Date: 17-18 August  2013 (Saturday and Sunday)
Venue: George Town, Penang
Organised by Penang Heritage Trust and Think City Sdn Bhd, with other partners

From as early as the 18th century, Penang was a port of embarkation for aspiring pilgrims travelling by ship to the ‘holy lands’. The activity was centered at the port, Acheen Street and adjoining areas. This era ended in the 1970s with the establishment of the Tabung Haji (Pilgrims Fund) corporation and popularity of air travel. Thousands of pilgrims from Sumatra, northern Malaysia and southern Thailand went through Penang to realize the fifth pillar of Islam. Their reminiscences and collective memories deserve to be celebrated, consolidated and documented for posterity. Prof. Eric Tagliacozzo has accepted our invitation to give the keynote ‘Penang Story Lecture’ (please see the following page).

The Penang Story Lecture (open to the public and limited to 150 persons) will be held in conjunction with a two-day closed workshop (about 30 persons). Registration will be waived for speakers, who are eligible to attend all our events and meals. Please apply to your institution to sponsor your travel expenses and accommodation, although we might be able to offer accommodation (limited to a few speakers). 

CALL FOR PAPERS (for workshop)
We are soliciting papers on a variety of topics on the “Penang and the Hajj”, for example:

·       The Penang Port as a port of embarkation for the Hajj, businesses of Penang Sheikh hajis/pilgrim brokers especially Hadhrami operators, the service industry at the port cluster, ships and shipping (conveyance of pilgrims).

·       Religious, social and cultural change stimulated by Hajj returnees, such as Islamic renewal and reform in the formal religious education and literacy in the pondok and madrasa, pan-Islamic ideas, anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism ideologies, with implication to Penang and the region.

·       Colonial regulations on hajj travel, including the medical practices of hajj doctors in Penang and the quarantine station at Pulau Jerejak off Penang island, in addition to the functions of the pilgrim officers in monitoring the pilgrimage movement.

·       Travel preparations for the pilgrimage such as religious classes, currency exchange, packing the peti sahara, clothing. The production of Hajj literature by the Penang Malay press and the narratives of pilgrims sharing their experience.

·       Socio-economic dimensions of hajj travel, such as saving schemes, exploitation of indentured labour, and the setting up of the monopolistic Tabung Haji (Pilgrims Fund) as an economic scheme in the context of national development.

As the coordinator of workshop I am seeking papers and inviting paper presenters on the above theme. I am also open to suggestions to topics for deliberations. Paper proposals should consist of an abstract of 300-500 words and short biographical information (100-150 words) and should be sent to Abdur-Razzaq Lubis at

Abstracts should be submitted by 6 May 2013 and acceptance of abstracts will be notified by 14 May 2013.

Full papers are required on or before 17 July 2013. The word limit is 10,000 inclusive of footnotes and bibliography. The papers will be considered for publication.

The Penang Story Lecture and workshop are organised by Penang Heritage Trust  and Think City 

A separate announcement will be issued by Penang Heritage Trust on registration, registration fee (for participants), accommodation and tour.

The Material World of the Hajj in Colonial-Era Southeast Asia
by Eric Tagliacozzo, Professor of History, Cornell University 

The economic connections of the pre-colonial Hajj were very important; they brought Southeast Asia into a wider orbit of contacts across the historical Indian Ocean. Scholars have asked, as a result of this, how vital the economy of the Hajj may have been in creating an “Indian Ocean world”, with major thinkers both championing and dismissing this notion.  We know from a number of period observers in the 17th and 18th centuries that the number and dimensions of ships engaged in the Hajj were substantial, and that the Mughal Empire, Ottoman, Yemen, and Southeast Asia all become intertwined in the routes of such craft sailing across the ocean's rim.  In my lecture I will examine these far-flung connections, while also concentrating on Southeast Asia and its trans-oceanic economies more locally.  I will do this by looking at the careers of eminent Hajjis such as Shaykh Yusuf of Makassar, as well as through classical texts from the region such as the Tuhfat al-Nafis.  I argue that the Dutch were crucial as facilitators of the pilgrimage, and I sketch out some of the circumstances of the Javanese Hajj from the 17th to the early 19th centuries.  I will also focus on the the British Case, where the Malay Peninsula and Penang became important as well in sending these travelers overseas, in increasingly larger numbers as the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries wore on.  I highlight the means by which pilgrims from Southeast Asia were able to perform their Hajj, and the very real – and sometimes very difficult – material circumstances of their passage.  This was a world in the making, one that connected the paths of quite ancient travelers to the voyages of pilgrims from our own time.

Eric Tagliacozzo
Eric Tagliacozzo is Professor of History at Cornell University. His first book, Secret Trades, Porous Borders: Smuggling and States Along a Southeast Asian Frontier (Yale 2005) won the Harry Benda Prize from the Association of Asian Studies.  His second monograph, The Longest Journey: Southeast Asians and the Pilgrimage to Mecca (Oxford, 2013) has just been published. Tagliacozzo is also the editor or co-editor of four other books, and serves as the Director of the Comparative Muslim Societies Program at Cornell, as well as Director of the Modern Indonesia Project and editor of the journal INDONESIA.

Attached Eric Tagliacozzo, ‘The Pilgrimage to Mecca from Southeast Asia’, SEAP Bulletin 2009-2010.
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Call for Papers Penang and the Hajj 2013.pdfCall for Papers Penang and the Hajj 2013.pdf
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The Pilgrimage to Mecca from SEA.pdfThe Pilgrimage to Mecca from SEA.pdf
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Visiting Kubang Kerian

Kubang Kerian is a small university town. There are a few tailors in Kubang Kerian. There are a few Muslimah clothes shops in Kubang Kerian. There are 2 mosques in Kubang Kerian. The big blue mosque is the state mosque. The old small mosque is also used. There are several provision shops and kedai makan in Kubang Kerian. All shops in Kubang Kerian sell halal food.

There are petrol stations (Petronas) along Jalan Pasir Puteh and Jalan Wakaf Stan (towards Bachok). There is a Shell petrol station on Jalan Pasir Puteh.

There is also a sprawling open night market at Wakaf Che Yeh for those who like late night shopping and bargaining.

The big hotels in Kota Bharu are Renaissance Hotel, Ridel Hotel and Grandriverview Hotel. The main mosque in Kota Bharu is Masjid Muhammadi, which is closest to Ridel Hotel.

There are many homestays in Kota Bharu and Kubang Kerian.

Kubang Kerian Square is the shopping area in front of Hospital USM (HUSM). It has cheap hotels and good food outlets. There is Mydin and others. There is Pasar Malam on Friday evening and that goes on till 9-10 pm. There are many bank branches here.

All shops in Kota Bharu and Kubang Kerian close at 5-6 pm. However, restaurants and kedai makan continue till late at night. Food maybe a bit sweet for outsiders.

Shops and hotels line the main road in front of HUSM
External links


BPSP = Blok Pembelajaran dan Sumber Pelajar /Students' Learning and Resources Block

The BPSP is a new multipurpose block. It is used for interviews, SGD (small group discussion), PBL (problem-based learning), workshops and meetings.

The upcoming medical students interview will also take place at BPSP on 10-11 May 2013.

The BPSP is light green and white layers, on the first floor.

To access BPSP, from the front parking lot, walk past Pharmacy and Kedai Koop. Go upstairs to the first floor. Go to the right, past Jabatan Taksiran. Go through the wooden doors and till you come to the glass doors on the right. Access is via staff card. Campus security guards should be on duty. There are chairs and tables, prayer places and toilets inside BPSP.

The public surau is a red zinc building on the ground floor. Walk past the USAINS clinics toward the lift. Toilets are at all corners, a bit hidden though.

Friday and Saturday are non work days. Offices are closed on campus.

The crowd you will see are the general public who have come to visit their loved ones in the hospital. Visiting days are weekends, so the parking spaces maybe easily taken up by visitors.

HUSM is 8-storeys and purple and white.

HUSM viewed from the main road


eBook version courtesy of Xlibris.

Kelantan Honour List 2010


Honouring the Hibiscus

As schoolchildren, we were taught the red hibiscus flower as our national flower. That was in 1965. We had a hibiscus bush at the government quarters in Jalan Day, Alor Star. We mashed the red flowers and got a mushy black paste. The leaves were unattractive but the serated edges were noted.

48 years on, I still see some hibiscus plants here and there, mostly in the villages and sometimes on campus. We had more hibiscus plants many years back compared to now. Do people actually know that the hibiscus is our national flower? How important is the hibiscus flower? Why did we pick the hibiscus flower and not some other flower? Do we have other flowers?

The hibiscus flowers all year round. This April brings a lot of hibiscus blooms. I have never seen such beautiful hibiscus blooms until I captured some on campus. The bushes don't look that attractive but the red flowers are really beautiful.