Monday, 29 April 2013

Patterns of the Hajj Pilgrimage in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. Relevance to Migration and Trade

Reasons for the Hajj
  1. Can the Hajj be for other reasons?
  2. Was it a prestige to carry a hajj title in the name?
  3. Can a would-be pilgrim engage in trade and profit?

Early Imperial trade and commerical nature attached to the Hajj
  1. Was there a commercial dimension of the Hajj?
  2. Who owned steamships? Europe - Britain, Germany; Asia - Russia, China
  3. Did the European shipping practice affect the annual Hajj pilgrimage?
  4. What was the effect of European shipping practice on the annual pilgrimage to Makkah?
  5. Was the Hajj tied to any economy? Whose economy? Yes, the steam ship trade of the Europeans.
  6. Did the European shipping trade facilitate the pilgrims' travel to Makkah and back?
  7. Was there intrusion of the Western businessmen in the Hajj trade?
  8. Was there colonial intervention into the Hajj? Yes.
  9. Would Imperial forces trade to their advantage or follow the Hajj needs of the pilgrims and their mass movement? The Imperial forces traded for profit, including the Hajj travels.
  10. Did foreign shipping practices dominate and shape the early Hajj travels? Yes, the pilgrims were transported according to foreign shipping schedules, irregardless of the Hajj schedule. The pilgrims travelled many months prior to the Hajj and many months after the Hajj, whenever steamships were available. Later on the Hajj authorities chartered Chinese registered vessels specifically for the Hajj travels.

Attitudes of the modern Saudis towards commercialisation of the Hajj and commerce in Makkah

When did the Saudi engage in commerce?
When were the Hajj facilities improved?
Who funded the improvements of the Hajj facilities?
Have the improved facilities helped the Hajj pilgrims? How?
  1. The modern Saudi state took its responsibilities towards the Hajj far more seriously, because this
    conferred status and international leadership upon the Saudi kingdom and dynasty.
  2. Yet, until the development of the oil fields after the Second World War, the Hajj was the Saudis’ principal source of revenue, and so for them, too, it was a business as well.
  3. At the turn of the century, civil and religious authorities, including the governor and the sharif of Makkah, evolved a multitude of schemes to fleece pilgrims.
  4. The Saudi government regulated the ancient mutawwifin system and their roles in trade practices.

Is the Hajj a commercial venture?
  1. Is the Hajj for monetary gains?
  2. Is it true that 'the pilgrimage is commercial before it is religious?
  3. Are the would-be pilgrims authorized to draw profits?
  4. Did the would-be pilgrims migrate to earn income?
  5. Did the populace of Makkah live largely off the Hajj? Hotel owners, yes.
  6. Did the pilgrims remain in Makkah as residents after completing the Hajj? No, they have to return.

Role of the guides or mutawwifin
  1. The guides spoke Arabic and acted as go-betweens for the non-Arab speaking pilgrims
  2. Did guides, or mutawwifin (or muallims, as they were known in India), convert the Hajj into a business? What did they sell?
  3. Even though the mutawwifin system was regarded as ancient, the guides were indispensable.
  4. Nearly all foreign pilgrims needed an Arab guide who knew their language and could instruct as to prayers and required rituals.
  5. Guides, moreover, performed a multitude of useful functions.
  6. They arranged meals and lodgings, camel and tent hire to Arafat and Al Madinah (Medina), and the purchase of sheep for sacrifice.

Transportation during the Hajj
  1. What modes of transportation were available for the Hajj?
  2. Muslim companies introduced motor transport in the mid 1920s.
  3. By the 1930s, despite breakdowns, reckless driving and extortion by drivers, a large number
    of pilgrims were travelling between the three cities of Jiddah, Makkah, and Madinah in cars or buses (although many still assigned their luggage to camels).
  4. Reorganized into a Saudi monopoly in the 1930s, the Arab Motor Company was reported to have reaped huge profits from the 1938 pilgrimage.
  5. National Archives, London, Public Record Office (hereafter PRO), CO 273/535/5, 24 Sept. 1927; Records of the Hajj, vii, 117–19 (3 Aug. 1936), 277–81, 287–8
    (29 Aug. 1938).
  6. On the further development of inland transport after the Second World War, see Long, Hajj Today, 48–50.
  7. In shipping, there was always a presence by Persian, Indian and other non-European shipping lines, such as the Shustari Line, the Nemazee Line (registered in Hong Kong), the Bank Misr Steam Navigation Line and, from the 1930s, the Scindia Line.
  8. The Khedivial Mail Line, which conducted the largest share of sea transport from Egypt (one of the big three overseas traffics), was a government company in the late nineteenth century.
  9. British shipping interests purchased it, until, at some point in the middle decades of the twentieth century, it reverted to Egyptian control.
  10. Munro, Maritime Enterprise and Empire, 167, 352–3;
  11. Boyd Cable, A Hundred Year History of the P&O: Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, 1837–1937 (London, 1937), 218, 228

Is the Hajj a form of migration?
  1. Whether pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca) qualifies as migration can be debated.
  2. But the Hajj, often lasting many months, can be likened to migrant labour trends.
  3. Moreover, would-be pilgrims migrated to earn the income to make the voyage, or remained in Makkah as residents after completing the Hajj.
  4. Like those migrants who emigrated for temporary gain, some journeyed for the personal prestige and social mobility accorded to hajjis, as much as for the spiritual experience.

Colonial intervention into the Hajj
  1. Colonial intervention into the Hajj, for political or medical purposes, has, for instance, been well documented by William R. Roff and Faroqhi.
  2. William R. Roff, ‘Sanitation and Security: The Imperial Powers and the Nineteenth Century Hajj’, Arabian Studies, vi (1982);
  3. Faroqhi, Herrscher über Mekka, 234–7.

Makkah dominates as a centre of trade in the Hijaz

Which city was the centre of trade in the Hijaz?
Was it Arafah or Mina?
Was it Jiddah or Makkah?
Was Makkah a significant trading post?
Is Makkah still a significant trading post?
Was trade in Jiddah independent of Makkah or the Hajj?
The Hajj is based on a lunar calendar (354 days).
Maritime trade is based on the solar calendar (365 days) and subject to weather conditions (seasons) and monsoon winds.
Was business in Jiddah compatible with the Hajj in Makkah?
  1. Business and the Hajj have, from earliest times, been intimately interlinked — though to what extent has generated debate.
  2. Pilgrimage fairs gathered in Makkah before the time of Muhammad; but it has been argued that the true site of these fairs was Arafat or Mina, rather than Makkah itself.
  3. McDonnell, ‘Conduct of Hajj from Malaysia’, 1–2; Barber, Pilgrimages, 31–2;
  4. Peters, Hajj, 31.
  5. For Ashin Das Gupta, the early modern Hajj was crucial to Gujarati trade in the Arabian Seas; but Michael Pearson has demonstrated that Makkah was never a significant trading post, that the considerable transit trade that passed through Jiddah was largely independent of Makkah or the Hajj, and that the lunar calendar that determined the dates of the Hajj made it incompatible with maritime trade based on a solar calendar and subject to monsoon winds.13
  6. Ashin Das Gupta, Indian Merchants and the Decline of Surat, c.1700–1750 (1979; New Delhi, 1994), 69;
  7. Pearson, Pious Passengers, 130–84.

Indonesian pilgrims
  1. Suraiya Faroqhi, Herrscher über Mekka: die Geschichte der Pilgerfahrt (Munich, 1990), 237–9; J. Vredenbregt, ‘The Haddj: Some of its Features and Functions in Indonesia’, Bijdragen tot de taal-, land- en volkenkunde, cxviii (1962), 105, 127, 134, 137;

Singapore pilgrims
  1. W. G. Huff, The Economic Growth of Singapore: Trade and Development in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge, 1994), 194–5;
  2. K. G. Tregonning, Home Port Singapore: A History of Straits Steamship Company Limited, 1890–1965 (Singapore, 1967), 117.

Malaysian pilgrims
  1. Mary Byrne McDonnell, ‘Patterns of Muslim Pilgrimage from Malaysia, 1885–1985’, in Dale F. Eickelman and James Piscatori (eds.), Muslim Travellers: Pilgrimage, Migration, and the Religious Imagination (Berkeley, 1990), 116, 123.
  2. Bayly, Birth of the Modern World, 354–6; Vredenbregt, ‘Haddj’, 100–3, 113–22;
  3. Mary Byrne McDonnell, ‘The Conduct of Hajj from Malaysia and its Socio-
    Economic Impact on Malay Society: A Descriptive and Analytical Study, 1860–
    1981’ (Columbia Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1986), 75–7.
  4. McDonnell, ‘Conduct of Hajj from Malaysia’; 1-2.

Commerce in earlier centuries (steamship business) and Hajj (from company histories)
  1. M. N. Pearson, Pious Passengers: The Hajj in Earlier Times (New Delhi, 1994);
  2. Peters, Hajj. On the modern period,
  3. David Edwin Long, The Hajj Today: A Survey of the Contemporary Makkah Pilgrimage(Albany, 1979);
  4. Vredenbregt, ‘Haddj’, 125–33. McDonnell and Vredenbregt provide some details on recruitment and transport.
  5. Malcolm Falkus, The Blue Funnel Legend: A History of the Ocean Steam Ship Company, 1865–1973 (Basingstoke, 1990);
  6. I. J. Brugmans, Tachtig jaren varen met de Nederland, 1870–1950 (Amsterdam, 1950);
  7. F. W. G. Leeman, Van barkschip tot ‘Willem Ruys’: 120 jaar zeevaart (Rotterdam,

British Foreign Office records of the Asian Hajj
  1. Records of the Hajj: A Documentary History of the Pilgrimage to Mecca, 10 vols. (Slough, 1993), iv, 343–53 (14 Sept. 1900). These volumes are largely a compilation of annual pilgrimage reports by British Foreign Office officials.
  2. C. A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 1780–1914: Global Connections and Comparisons (Oxford, 2004), 351–4;
  3. F. E. Peters, The Hajj: The Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca and the Holy Places (Princeton, 1994), 282;
  4. Richard Barber, Pilgrimages (Woodbridge, 1991), 137;
  5. Vredenbregt, ‘Haddj’, 93, 121;

The Business of the Hajj

Pilgrims’ Progress: The Business of The Hajj
Miller, Michael Barry, 1945-
Past & Present, Number 191, May 2006, pp. 189-228 (Article)
Published by Oxford University Press

For additional information about this article
Access Provided by Bangladesh University of Professionals at 05/11/11 8:21AM GMT

  1. Alfred Holt & Co. was also known as Blue Funnel or Ocean Steam Ship. It was the premier British shipping company sailing east to China, Malaya and the Straits Settlements. It was involved in the pilgrim trade in the post-WWII period even though the shipping company was suffering from wartime losses. It faced competition from rising Asian shipping business.
  2. Since the nineteenth century (1800s), Holts steamers had carried Malay and Indonesian Muslims to and from Jiddah during the Hajj season.
  3. In fact, until the Second World War nearly all Holts ships had been equipped to carry pilgrims if necessary, in order to accommodate a traffic with uneven scheduling.
  4. Profits from paying passengers had largely been made on the eastbound voyage, where freight coming from Europe was usually light in volume; but, with respect to the westbound voyage, Hobhouse noted, ‘it would almost always have been possible to fill the space more profitably with cargo’.
  5. In 1948, John Hobhouse, a senior manager of Alfred Holt & Co. began to wonder whether it any longer made good business sense to engage in the pilgrim trade.
  6. In the late 1940s, with Holts still reeling from wartime losses, enjoying a better balance in outbound and homeward cargo volumes, and facing pressure from fading colonial governments to provide superior accommodation and safety facilities, Hobhouse wondered whether ‘the economics of this trade’ did not warrant disengagement altogether.
  7. Advised that this would place the shipping company in very bad odour in the region, especially as Asian shipping would be a far more competitive force in the future, he compromised.
  8. Holts would continue to transport hajjis, but numbers would be limited. ‘The maximum will be fixed from season to season.
  9. Hobhouse’s exchanges highlight two broad themes in the history of the Hajj that are addressed in this article. First, migration in modern times, whether long-term or short, has always been a
    business as well as a movement of peoples.
  10. Steamship companies, railway companies, agents, brokers and labour recruiters turned all forms of migration into big business, and in so doing they provided the organization, means and often initiatives, by which the great transoceanic flows of humanity occurred. Historians of the Hajj have noted the central importance of the steamship, and the creation of better lines of communication, in the development of mass pilgrimage to Makkah during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
  11. Other factors — changing imperial policies, rising commodity prices, questions of Islamic identity, the prestige and self-justification attached to pilgrimage, and the advance of orthodox forms of Islam — were equally influential in promoting an event that was of immense significance to the cultural identity of its participants and to the unifying processes.