Call for papers, International Symposium: Europe and Hajj in the Age of Empires (Leiden University, 13-14 May 2013)

International Symposium

Europe and Hajj in the Age of Empires: Muslim Pilgrimage prior to the Influx of Muslim Migration in the West
Leiden University, 13-14 May 2013
Leiden University Centre for the Study of Islam and Society (LUCIS)
In Corporation with
King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives in Riyadh
(Encyclopedia of Hajj and the Two Holy Mosques)

European connections to the Hajj have a lengthy history of centuries before the flux of Muslim migration to the West in 1950-1960. During the colonial age in particular, European and Ottoman empires had brought the Hajj under surveillance primarily for political reasons and interests in the control of steamship and the fear for the growth of Pan-Islamic networks. Another important motive for their scrutiny of Hajj was their anxiety for the spread of epidemic diseases in their colonies after the pilgrims’ return.

On the other hand, indigenous Muslims in Central and Eastern Europe, Muslim emigrants (especially in Great Britain, France and somehow in Germany) and European converts to Islam in other parts of Europe, were making their way to the Hajj and had left behind interesting accounts, such as diaries, published and un-published travelogues, press items in European newspapers, etc. European and non-European national and private archives enlist fascinating political, medical, religious and social reports of such narratives.

Having this background in mind, the symposium will invite a group of scholars in order to investigate these European connections with the Hajj on these various levels. A particular focus will be placed on new research methods and results on the basis on national and personal archives and contemporary writings that so far have widely been ignored in the study of Hajj as part of European history. Among the questions which will be addressed: What do first-hand primary sources (especially archives) tell us about the European political perception of the Hajj? How did the international character of the Hajj as a Muslim sacred ritual influence European policies in their struggle for supremacy on the Muslim world? How did Muslims in Europe experience the logistic, economic, religious and spiritual aspects of the Hajj?

Participants are expected to collect materials and analyze such themes as:
1) the Hajj-related documents and written works  in European states,
2) Hajj  travelogues, routes, means of transport, logistic situations and hygienic problems,
3) habits, festivities, social status and traditions observed upon preparing for the Hajj journey,
4) the socio-political, cultural and economic effects of Hajj on the pilgrims and their European homelands.

If you are willing to participate, please send us a provisional title and one page summary of the paper you intend to deliver before November 15, 2012; to
We would also like to point out that it is our intention to publish a selection of the conference. We expect the full paper for the workshop no later than April 10, 2013. We are happy to fund your return flight/train (economy class/second class) and your hotel

Warm regards,
On behalf of the Organizers
Dr. Umar Ryad
Assistant Professor – Islam in the Modern World
Institute for Religious Studies
Faculty of Humanities
Leiden University
PO Box 9515
2300 RA Leiden
The Netherlands
Office: + 31 (0) 71 5272568