Everyday Religiosity and Extraordinary Experiences: Nepali Muslim Narratives of Hajj

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Book Chapter

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Department 1

Religious Studies


This chapter presents first-person narratives from Nepali Muslims directly before and after their journeys from Kathmandu to Mecca, for the Hajj pilgrimage, in 2005–2006. Scholars of religion conceptualize the rich landscape of practice and faith, as well as their multiple and shifting meanings embedded in the social field, as “lived religion”. Nepal’s identity politics of the last three decades, and religious identity politics in particular, have had transformative effects upon contemporary forms of religion and religious community. Islam is a religion of orthopraxy, meaning that historically it has been a tradition in which practice has been understood to take precedence over, and even precede, belief or faith. The people of Nepal and India tend to go on the Hajj when they have become too old. The situation in Nepal at the time of these interviews is an important context for understanding these pilgrims’ reflections, as is the importance of Hajj as a ritual obligation for Muslims.

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