Muslim pilgrimage as education by experience


  • Christer Hedin University of Stockholm


Pilgrims and pilgrimages -- Islam, Education, Learning, Islamic literature, Guidebooks, Islam -- Ritual, Kaʻbah (Mecca, Saudi Arabia), Tradition (Islam)


In Christian tradition, pilgrimage is connected with hardship and sacrifice. It has been used as a penance for penitents. The pilgrimage itself is a kind of sacrifice. The Muslim pilgrimage is different. The atmosphere is serious, but full of confidence. The pilgrimage strengthens faith through the spirit of community with millions of other Muslims, who share the same faith. In that respect it resembles the mass meetings of revivalist Christianity.The pilgrimage means that Muslims are brought together in action, walking, running, praying, throwing pebbles, slaughtering and, most importantly, standing for half a day in the desert. All these experiences are used for education through experience. The pilgrimage is an opportunity to educate the Muslims in religious matters. It is a typical example of ‘learning by doing’. This article elaborates the content of this education as it is performed today. The purpose is twofold: to show how well the pilgrimage is fit for education and to investigate how this opportunity is utilized today. The account is built on contemporary theological literature about Islam. Most of the works are introductions to Islam, written by well-known and esteemed scholars. They are meant to give elementary information about Muslim life. The purpose is not to decide what is right or wrong in the performance, or in the interpretation of the rituals. The purpose is to describe what is taught by the religious leaders today. They seem to regard some traditions as dubious, as they might be perceived as superstitious. They might also have been accused of this by Western scholars. That does not mean that they are superstitious. This article submits a discussion and an analysis of a trend in contemporary Islam.



How to Cite

Hedin, C. (2010). Muslim pilgrimage as education by experience. Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 22, 163–195.