Friday, October 21, 2011

Hajj 2011

The Hajj is the largest pilgrimage in the world. As one of the five pillars of Islam, it is a religious duty for each Muslim to undertake at least once in his or her lifetime given financial means and health. The Hajj will occur in the first or second week of November this year, so it is only weeks away.

Undertaking this pilgrimage involves traveling to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Some people must save their whole lives to pay for the trip, while others are able to do it multiple times. For more information, see this brief entry at CNN and this longer entry in wikipedia.

I think it is good for us to think of the Hajj in terms of our notion of religious capital. Notice how it is described in the CNN entry. One person refers to it is "spiritual boot camp," which suggests it is an enterprise that builds a person's religious capital. Yet, due to the high cost of going, we expect that participants are individuals with already fairly high religious capital. This is a great example of the chicken-and-egg problem mentioned in class. Oftentimes, religious participation results from religious capital and builds it at the same time.

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