Records of the Hajj: The Pilgrimage to Mecca

ISBN:  (13) 978-1-85207-430-2        Extent:  10 volumes, 6,000 pages, including maps & pilgrimage certificates

Editor:  A. de L. Rush    Published: 1993
Paper: Printed on acid free paper
Binding: Library bindings with gilt finish
See sample pages: not available

The contents of this publication have, almost without exception, been selected from primary sources. The earliest period is covered by exact copies of sections on the Hajj in the works of Azraki, Al-Tabari and other Arab chroniclers. Later documentation presents the Hajj less as a feature in Islam´s historical development than as a personal experience conveyed through eye-witness accounts of the pilgrimage rituals and of Mecca and its inhabitants. Outstanding among such records are passages selected from the works of Ibn Jubair, Nasir-e Khosrau and Ibn Batuta.
European sources provide the bulk of the documentation for the later periods. On the one hand there are extracts from Varthema, Burckhardt, Richard Burton and other travellers; on the other, huge quantities of highly interesting despatches and memoranda prepared by diplomats and agents sent to the area to monitor events and promote their Government´s interests. Most of these have been selected from the archives of the British Political Agency (later: Legation) that was established in Jeddah in the nineteenth century. Of outstanding value are the lengthy comprehensive Pilgrimage Reports that were, until the 1950s prepared annually by British political staff assisted by Muslims sent specially to Mecca as observers. These have been reproduced in their entirety. As for the last thirty years - the period in which such records are withheld from view - the editor has made careful selections from recent publications and combined them with media coverage including the text of important broadcasts from Riyadh and Tehran.


From the Introduction by A. de L. Rush
From the time of the prophet Muhammad to the present day, the descriptions and testimonies of history are gathered in the volumes of the monumental, fascinating and insipiring collection of Records of the Hajj.
"The first House of Worship founded for men was at Bakkah, Blessed and of guidance for all beings. In it are signs evident, even the place of Ibrahim. Whoever enters it attains security. Pilgrimage therto is a duty men owe to God - those who can afford the journey. But if any disbelieve, God does not stand in need of any of his Creatures." QUR´AN 3:96-97

The Editor writes about the history and significance of the Hajj...
The Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, Mina Arafat and Muzdalifa, is surely the world´s largest and most impressive international event. In our secular age, its appeal might have been expected to diminish, reflecting the current decline in the formal observance of other religions. Yet the reverse is true. Today, over two million Muslims converge on Mecca annually, a figure that the Saudi Arabian authorities expect to increase by a further million in the next ten years. Though this phenomenon owes much to the case of modern travel, it also attests to the enduring symbol of spiritual power, the Ka´bah, towards which muslims have been prostrating themselves for some 1,400 years in their prayers to the one invisible God, Allah. Yet the Hajj is not only of religious importance. Just as politics have always been an integral part of Islam, control of the Hajj has been associated with leadership of the Islamic World. The elements of idealism, suffering, violence and piety evident in the political history of Mecca are mirrored on a personal level in the experiences of individual pilgrims. The annals of the Hajj mention many occasions how pilgrims have been suffocated or trampled to death by fellow pilgrims pushing through the dense crowd. Most wonderful for anyone reading these fascinating pilgrimage records is to find irrefutable evidence of genuine exaltation and an intense redeeming faith permeating and validating the whole Hajj drama. While each year many pilgrims raise complaints, how many others find spiritual fulfilment. For them the Hajj is indeed a pillar of Islam, the experience of a lifetime. For them it makes all things bearable Even death is welcomed as the doorway to Heaven.


Volume 1: Spiritual and ceremonial background 

The antiquity and spiritual significance of the Hajj; its establishment as a pillar of the Islmic faith; pilgrim prayers, invocations and rites. 

Volume 2: The pre-Ottoman period (632-1516)

The Hajj and the early Arabian Caliphate; interuption of pilgrim rites by power struggles between Umayyads, Abbasids, Kharijites and other Islamic factions; seizure of the Black Stone by the Qarmatians (930); rise of the Meccan Sharifate and the Mamluk Sultans of Egypt as arbiters of the Hajj; the pilgrimage of Harun al-Rashid (802), Nasir-e Khosrau (1045), Ibn Jubair (1183), Mansa Musa (1325), Ibn Batuta (1326-28), Varthema (1503-4). 

Volumes 3 and 4: The Ottoman period (1517-1916)

Entry of the Hajj into the sphere of the Ottomans; desription of pilgrims and pilgrim caravans in D'Ohsson's Tableau Général de l'Empire Ottoman (1790); expansion of the Hajj after introduction of steam navigation; preparation of pilgrimage reports by European government agents and accounts by officials, explorers and scholars including Burckhardt (1814), Burton (1853), Keane (1877-78), Snouck Hurgronje (1884) and Kazem Zadeh (1910-11). 

Volume 5: The Hashimite period (1916-1925)

The Hajj under full Hashimite control after Sharif Husain's sponsorship of the Arab Revolt Against Turkey in the First World War; the abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate (1924); pilgrims's complaints and sufferings encourage Ibn Sa'ud (later King'Abd al-'Aziz) to invade and destroy the new Hashimite Kingdom of the Hijaz and to take over the Hajj Administration. 

Volume 6, 7 and 8: The Saudi period (1926-)

The absorbtion of the Holy Places into the Nascent Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; the impact of Ibn Sa'ud's Wahhabi movement on the Hajj; attempt to assassinate Ibn Sa'ud during the pilgrimage (1935) ;the modernisation of the Hajj and the begining of motor and air transport; defilement of the Bayt al-Haram by Iranian pilgrims (1943); arrival of pilgrims from West Africa, Indonesia, Malaya and the Soviet Union; criticism of expansion projects at the Bayt al-Haram and the Prophet's Mosque; Juhaiman's insurrection at Mecca in 1400 AH (1979); charges of maladministration of the Hajj directed by opponents of the Al-Saud regime. 

Volume 9: Health affairs

Medical reports on the pilgrimage; documentation on the development of international quarantine procedures for the prevention of cholera. 

Volume 10 

Box with maps, illustrations and genealogical tables.


Highlights from the volumes:
  • Much of the material for this publication has been brought together and published for the first time, over 6000 pages are presented to the reader, including confidential reports, the correspondence of rulers and diplomats, and leading authorities on Islamic history and philosophy.
  • Quranic readings, prayer and invocations; extracts from the celebrated authorities Azraki, al-Tabari, al-Fasi, Ibn Ishaq and others outlining the origins and significance of the Hajj rituals.
  • Recently released documents and media material featuring the use of the Hajj as a focus for political debate and the dissemination of propaganda.
  • Annual reports on all administrative aspects of the pilgrimage - security and immigration control; pilgrim transport and accommodation; quarantine and medical facilities, measures to curb the exploitation of pilgrims, surveys and statistics.
  • Personal accounts of the Hajj experienced by pilgrims from Ibn Jubair to Ali Shariati with further accounts by Varthema, Burton, Ali Bey and other scholars, explorers and adventurers.
  • Historical maps of Mecca, Medina and the traditional pilgrim caravan routes; genealogical tables of the Grand Sherifs of Mecca; a rare pilgrimage certificate.


01. Genealogical table of the Sherifs of Mecca. [Ferdinand Wustenfeld, ´Stammtafel der Scherifen von Mekka´, Genealogische Tabellen der Arabischen Stamme und Familien, Gottingen, 1852]
02. Attestation of a pilgrimage performed by Maimunah, daughter of Al Muhammad Al Zardali, 836AH (1433AD) with illuminated borders and figures of the Meccan shrines. Arabic paper roll. [British Library, Ms. Add. 27566, Neg. 3623, OR 11865. Listed in Oriental Manuscripts Catalogue, p.761b. Published by permission of the British Library].
03. Mecca certificate. [No provenance; reproduced with commentary in S. M. Zwemer, Arabia: the Cradle of Islam, Revell, New York, 1900].
04. Turkish tile showing the Ka´ba. [Original size: 60cm. x 38cm. By courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London].
05. ´Map of the Coast of Arabia on the Red Sea constructed by Ali Bey al Abbassi from his own Observations and Researches.´ [Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown, London, 1813].
06. Maps of Mecca [Eldon Rutter, The Holy Cities of Arabia, Putnam, New York, 1928].
  • 1. Plan of Mekka
  • 2. The road between Mekka and ´Arafa
  • 3. Plan of the Haram of Mekka and of the Mas´a
  • 4. The roads connecting Mekka with El-Taif
  • 5. Plan of El Medina
  • 6. The Haram of El Medina
07. Map of Mecca showing its central area, mosques and surrounding hills. [Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al-Fasi, Shifa al Gharam bi Akhbar al-Balad al Haram and Ibn Najjar, Al Durrat al-Thaminah fi Akhbar al-Madina, Mecca edition, 1956].
08. Map of Mecca and its environs and approaches to Taif, Medina, Jeddah, ´Arafat, Mina and Wadi Fatima. [op. cit.]
09. Map of Medina and its environs showing mosques and pilgrimage sites; inset street map and ground plan of Prophet´s Mosque. [op. cit.]