Guests of God

Guests of God, the fruit of a personal pilgrimage in 1989 (do not miss the pages recounting that) and more than a decade of research throughout the Muslim world, is a beautifully wrought study that tells much about the hajj and more.”–L. Carl Brown, Foreign Affairs

Winner of the 2005 Albert Hourani Book Prize Award

Each year, more than two million pilgrims from over 100 countries converge on the holy city of Mecca to reenact the ritual dramas that Muslims have been performing for centuries. Making the hajj is one of the most important duties in the life of a Muslim. The pilgrimage-and its impact on international politics-is enormous and growing every year, yet Westerners know virtually nothing about it. What is the hajj and what does it mean? Who are the hajjis? What do they do and say in Mecca and how do they interpret their experiences? Who runs the hajj and what are their political objectives? How does the hajj encourage international cooperation among Muslims and can it also promote harmony between Islam and the West?

In Guests of God, Robert R. Bianchi seeks to answer these and many other questions. While it is first and foremost a religious festival, he shows, the hajj is also very much a political event. The Muslim world’s leading multinational organization, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, has established the first international regime explicitly devoted to pilgrimage. Every large Muslim nation has developed a comprehensive hajj policy and a powerful bureaucracy to enforce it.

Yet, Bianchi argues, no authority- secular or religious, national or international-can really control the hajj. Pilgrims believe that they are entitled to travel freely to Mecca as “Guests of God”-not as guests of any nation or organization that might wish to restrict or profit from their efforts to fulfill a fundamental religious obligation. Drawing on his personal experience as a pilgrim and a wealth of data gathered over the course of ten years of research, Bianchi has produced a fascinating look at the hajj filled with personal, candid stories from political and religious leaders and hajjis from all walks of life. A wide-ranging study of Islam, politics, and power, Guests of God is the most complete picture of the hajj available anywhere.


“Guests of God is a beautifully composed and structured and highly sympathetic treatment of the complexity of contemporary Islam institutionally, transnationally, as a collective identity and as a participant in and generator of “globalization.” Through its subject focus, and as it weaves country studies of hajj politics into contemporary global politics, the book manages to redefine what “globalization” is and who is “doing” it…Guests of God is that rare thing, an academic book that is accessible to a broad audience…Its framework and perspective are daringly new, and the book breaks the mold in the study of political Islam.” –Albert Hourani Book Award Committee

“Readable, informative, and often funny, this book is appropriate for undergraduate courses in religion, politics, and international affairs; policy makers and journalists seeking understanding of the Hajj’s central role in both religious and political life in the Muslim world; and general readers curious about Islam and its most important ritual.” –Natana J. DeLong-Bas, The Historian

“…a remarkable book that delivers more than its title even begins to suggest.”–CHOICE

“…a work of great learning and of astute political and social analysis, written in a direct and jargon-free style that is a joy to read….an achievement remarkable for its learning, its sophistication, its acuity and its sheer lucidity.” –F.E. Peters, Middle East and Islamic Studies, New York University

“This is a masterful study of the Hajj, one of the greatest human experiences of our time, in historical, social scientific and legal perspectives, ranging from global thematic issues to detailed case studies. Bianchi combines fascinating narrative, accessible prose, and wealth of information with sophisticated analysis, insightful scholarship, and clarity of presentation. A highly instructive and inspiring contribution to possibilities of international peaceful cooperation at the present creative moment in human history.” –Abdullahi An-Na’im, author of Toward an Islamic Reformation: Civil Liberties, Human Rights, and International Law

Arabic edition

“Robert Bianchi describes the Hajj as ‘magical’. Guests of God is no less so. Melding social science analysis, history, public policy, Islamic studies, personal narrative, and travelogue Bianchi takes his readers on a Hajj of their own. From Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, Malaysia, Turkey, Nigeria, and elsewhere Bianchi reveals the mechanics, the politics, and the spiritual dimensions of perhaps the world’s greatest regularized movement of people. Relying on brilliant scholarship, elegant writing, and rare insight this book is truly a colossal achievement.” — Jerrold D. Green, Director of International Programs and Development and Director of the Center for Middle East Public Policy, RAND

Persian Edition

“Robert Bianchi’s Guests of God is a unique and masterful treatment of the politicization of the hajj, pilgrimage to Mecca, and its global significance. Based on extensive field research and data, this is a definitive and critical study, must-reading for those who wish to understand the continuing role of the hajj from Nigeria to Indonesia in Muslim belief, politics and international relations.” — John L. Esposito, author of Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam

Chinese translation of chapter 10, The Hajj in World Politics and Law

2016年5月阿拉伯世界研究 May 2016第3期 Arab World Studies No 3 伊斯兰与中东政治世界政治与国际法视野下的朝觐制度[美]罗伯特·比安奇

世界政治与国际法视野下的朝觐制度 – 上海外国语大学中东研究所 › _upload › article › files

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