Market Islam and organising Hajj-going in late modern Britain: tour operators, pilgrim welfare and UK governance

ERI 144
Monday 5 March 2018 (12:00-14:00)

Centre for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies Seminar Series 2017/18

  • Speaker: Professor Sean McLoughlin (University of Leeds)
  • Title: The cultural and political economy of Hajj-going in Britain: tour operators, pilgrim welfare and the KSA/UK authorities

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, this event is CANCELLED. We hope we can reschedule this talk for a later date.


The modern management and organisation of Hajj has been continually transformed in recent decades. Infrastructure and pilgrim services in the Holy Places have been ‘upgraded’ to accommodate (and take advantage of) a growing global demand for Islamic pilgrimages, travel and tourism. Indeed, during the 2000s the Saudi authorities finally put an end to Muslims from non-Muslim states organising Hajj independently. Since then British Muslims have been obliged to purchase packages from approved Hajj organisers. My paper sketches this transformation of the cultural and political economy of Hajj-going in Britain, drawing on around 40 in-depth interviews conducted with UK Hajj organisers, pilgrims and other industry stakeholders, as well as observations at industry related events over several years. I map the number, history and distribution of UK Hajj organisers, outline the different British Muslim markets they serve and sketch the contested nature of their relationships with pilgrim welfare organisations and the KSA/UK governance authorities. I suggest that this new area of research is a revealing vantage point from which to reflect on the dynamics of Islam in the UK and beyond.   

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