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EMPIRE AND THE HAJJ: PILGRIMS, PLAGUES, AND PAN-ISLAM UNDER BRITISH SURVEILLANCE, 1865–1908

  • Michael Christopher Low

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From the mid-19th to the early 20th centuries, the forces unleashed by the age of European imperialism and its rapid encroachment on dār al-Islām increasingly brought the hajj under the scrutiny and regulation of non-Muslim powers. The driving force behind these dramatic changes in administration of the hajj was the expansion of the British Empire. As Britain's power in the Indian subcontinent grew, so too did its maritime supremacy throughout the Indian Ocean basin. Looking to secure its access to India, ward off its European competitors, and expand its commercial interests in southwestern Arabia, the Red Sea, and the Gulf of Aden, Britain's role in the region was intensified by the transit opportunities that emerged with the development of regular steamship routes between the Mediterranean and India from the 1830s to the 1860s and the eventual opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. With the exponential growth of maritime traffic that accompanied these technological advances came a similarly dramatic rise in the oceangoing pilgrim traffic from and through British India. Owing to this expansion in the number of seaborne pilgrims, the hajj soon came to be recognized as the primary conduit for the globalization of epidemic diseases, such as cholera and plague.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Michael Christopher Low is Visiting Instructor in the Department of History, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Ga.; e-mail: hismcl@langate.gsu.edu

References

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NOTES

Author's Note: I extend special thanks to Engseng Ho, John Iskander, Stephen Rapp, and Donald Reid, whose encouragement and critical comments were indispensable. I also thank the American Institute for Yemeni Studies for their generous support of both this project and my Arabic-language training.

1 William, Roff, “Sanitation and Security: The Imperial Powers and the Nineteenth Century Hajj,” Arabian Studies VI (1982): 143.

2 David, Arnold, Colonizing the Body: State Medicine and Epidemic Disease in Nineteenth-Century India (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1993), 186–89.

3 Foreign Office (hereafter F. O.) 78/4094 “British efforts to improve travel conditions for pilgrims; appointment of travel agent; problem of indigent pilgrims,” October 1884–February 1887; Alan de L. Rush, ed., Records of the Hajj: A Documentary History of the Pilgrimage to Mecca, vol. 3 (London: Archive Editions, 1993), 593–626; F. O. 78/4328, “Mémoire adressé au Conseil Supérieur de Constantinople sur la proportion sans cesse croissante des indigents parmi les pélerins Musulmans sui se rendent a la Mecque et sur les inconvénients sérieux qui en resultant” (Constantinople, 1890); F. O. 78/4328, “Translation: Circular addressed to Mudirs and Governors,” Riaz Pasha, Minister of the Interior, Khedival Government of Egypt, 20 January 1890.

4 Firmin, Duguet, Le pélerinage de la Mecque au point de vue religieuse, social et sanitaire (Paris: Reider, 1932), 126–28; Peters, F. E., The Hajj: The Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca and the Holy Places (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994), 301302.

5 Proust, A. A., Essai sur l’hygiéne . . . Avec une carte indiquement la marche des épidémies de cholera par les routes de terre et la voie maritime (Paris, 1873), 45, quoted in Roff, “Sanitation and Security,” 146.

6 Hunter, W. W., Orissa, 2 vols. (London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1872), 1:145–67, quoted in Arnold, Colonizing the Body, 189.

7 From 1851 to 1894, eight international sanitary conferences addressed the threat posed by cholera. For archival accounts of these conferences and the evolution of an international quarantine system, see F. O. 881/5155X, H. Hill to India Office, “History of Quarantine and Cholera in Europe from 1878,” April 1885; F. O. 881/5011, W. Maycock, “Memorandum respecting the Quarantine Restrictions adopted by Foreign Countries in consequence of the Outbreak of Cholera in Europe,” 30 September 1884. See also Valeska Huber, “The Unification of the Globe by Disease? The International Sanitary Conferences on Cholera, 1851–1894,” The Historical Journal 49 (2006): 453–76.

8 Peters, The Hajj, 302.

9 McNeill, William H., Plagues and Peoples (New York: Anchor Books, 1976), 269.

10 For examples of Britain's hostility toward “contagion” theory and its rejection of the efficacy of quarantines, see F. O. 881/299, Henry Austen to Viscount Palmerston, “Letter from the General Board of Health respecting the spread of Cholera in this Country, and the inutility of Quarantine Regulations for preventing its introduction,” December 1848; F. O. 881/5172X, Drs. H. Gibbes and E. Klein, “An Enquiry into the Etiology of Asiatic Cholera,” 1885. See also Watts, Sheldon, Epidemics and History: Disease, Power and Imperialism (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1997), 167212.

11 William, Ochsenwald, The Hijaz Railroad (Charlottesville, Va.: University Press of Virginia, 1980); William, Ochsenwald, Religion, Society, and the State in Arabia: The Hijaz under Ottoman Control, 1840–1908 (Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 1984).

12 Peters, “Steamships and Cholera: The Hajj in Modern Times,” in The Hajj, 266–315.

13 Roff, “Sanitation and Security,” 155–56.

14 See also Harrison, Mark, “Quarantine, pilgrimage, and colonial trade, 1866–1900,” The Indian Economic and Social Review 29 (1992): 117–44.

15 For the latest Indian Ocean perspective on the colonial-era hajj, see Bose, Sugata, One Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2006), 193232.

16 Blyth, Robert, Empire of the Raj: India, Eastern Africa and the Middle East, 1858–1947 (New York: Palgrave–MacMillan, 2003), 111.

17 Roff, “Sanitation and Security,” 144.

18 Headrick, Daniel, The Tools of Empire: Technology and European Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981), 129–56.

19 Killingray, David, Margarette, Lincoln, and Nigel, Rigby, ed., Maritime Empires: British Imperial Maritime Trade in the Nineteenth Century (Rochester, N.Y.: Boydell Press, 2004), 6883; Salim, Sayyid Mustafa, al-Bahr al-Ahmar wa-l-Juzur al-Yamaniyya: Tarikh wa-Qadiyya (Sanaa: Dar al-Mithaq li-l-Nashr wa-l-Tawzi˓, 2006), 4358.

20 Fresnel, Fulgence, “L’Arbie,” in Revue des Deux Mondes (Paris, 1839), iv, xvii, 256, quoted in Roff, “Sanitation and Security,” 145.

21 Kimche, David, “The Opening of the Red Sea to European Ships in the Late Eighteenth Century,” Middle Eastern Studies 8 (1972): 71, quoted in Roff, “Sanitation and Security,” 145.

22 Pearson, Michael N., Pilgrimage to Mecca: The Indian Experience, 1500–1800 (Princeton, N.J.: Markus Weiner, 1996), 5657; Roff, “Sanitation and Security,” 145.

23 F. O. 195/1583, British Vice-Consul, Jidda, to Consul, Jidda, 23 March 1887, in “Report on Hajj of 1303 A. H. (1886),” in Records of the Hajj, vol. 3, 733.

24 Roff, “Sanitation and Security,” 150.

25 Long, David E., The Hajj Today: A Survey of the Contemporary Makkah Pilgrimage (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1979), 127; McKeown, Adam, “Global Migration, 1846–1940,” Journal of World History 15 (2004): 162.

26 Burckhardt, John Lewis, Travels in Arabia (London: Henry Colburn, 1829), 16, 191, 259.

27 Roff, “Sanitation and Security,” 146. Although the Ottomans, French, and Dutch all called for some form of passport documentation, sanitary certificates, and/or the purchase of return tickets to avoid pauper pilgrims being stranded in the Hijaz, the British repeatedly claimed that such restrictions would be misunderstood as an infringement upon religious freedom. For example, see F. O. 881/3079, “Correspondence respecting Turkish Regulations for Pilgrim Traffic, 1875–1877,” Consul Beyts, Jidda, to Secretary to the Government of Bombay, inclosure no. 9 in no. 10, 30 April 1875; F. O. 881/3079, Governor-General of India in Council to the Marquis of Salisbury, Fort William (Calcutta), inclosure in no. 11, 7 January 1876; F. O. 412/58, The British Delegates to the Paris Cholera Conference to the Earl of Rosebury, no. 48, Paris, 21 February 1894; F. O. 412/58, “Correspondence respecting the Paris Cholera Conference and the Question of Sanitary Reform in the East,” January 1895.

28 Vice-Consul, Jidda, to Chief Sec. to Govt. of Bombay, 7 December 1853, and Sec. to Govt. of India to Chief Sec. to Govt. of Bombay, 5 May 1854, For. Dept. Proc., Pol., for 1854, no. 16–18, cited in Roff, “Sanitation in Security,” 146.

29 Burton, Richard F., Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to al-Medinah and Meccah, vol. 2 (London, 1855; repr. of the 1893 ed., New York: Dover, 1964), 184–86.

30 Hunter, W. W., The Indian Musalmans (London: Williams and Norgate, 1871), 1, 11, 36; Hunter, W. W., A Brief History of the Indian Peoples (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1895), 222–29.

31 Robinson, Francis, Islam and Muslim History in South Asia (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2000), 188–89; William, Roff, ed., “Islamic Movements: One or Many?,” in Islam and the Poltical Economy of Meaning (London: Croom and Helm, 1987), 3152; Sunyal, Usha, Devotional Islam and Politics in British India: Ahmad Riza Khan and his Movement, 1870–1920 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1996), 240–44.

32 F. O. 424/18, “Papers relating to the Outbreak in Jeddah,” Acting Consul-General Green to the Earl of Malmesbury, no. 1, Alexandria, 6 July 1858; Précis of Captain Pullen's Letter, Jidda, to the Secretary of the Admiralty, inclosure no. 2 in no. 11, 25 June 1858; Ochsenwald, Religion, Society, and the State in Arabia, 137–51; idem, “The Jidda Massacre of 1858,” Middle Eastern Studies 13 (1977): 314–26.

33 F. O. 424/18, Précis of Captain Pullen's Letter, Jidda, to the Secretary of the Admiralty.

34 Shaykh Sa˓id bin Husayn al-˓Amudi, the man accused and subsequently executed for leading the 1858 revolt against British influence, was also a Hadrami. Freitag, Urlike, Indian Ocean Migrants and State Formation in Hadhramaut: Reforming the Homeland (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2003), 5253, 199–208; Ochsenwald, Religion, Society, and the State in Arabia, 138–143; idem, “Muslim–European Conflict in the Hijaz: The Slave Trade Controversy, 1840–1895,” Middle Eastern Studies 16 (1980): 115–26.

35 For Hadrami networks in the Indian Ocean, see Urlike Freitag and William Clarence-Smith, eds., Hadrami Traders, Scholars, and Statesmen in the Indian Ocean (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1997); Engseng Ho, “Empire through Diasporic Eyes: A View from the Other Boat,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 46 (2004): 210–46; Ho, Engseng, The Graves of Tarim: Genealogy and Mobility across the Indian Ocean (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2006).

36 F. O. 424/18, Précis of Captain Pullen's Letter, Jidda, to the Secretary of the Admiralty; FO 424/18, Vice-Consul G. West, Suez to Acting Consul-General, J. Green, Alexandria, inclosure no. 1 in no. 12, 5 July 1858.

37 Ibid., inclosure no. 3 in no. 12, 5 July 1858.

38 Juan R. I. Cole, “Of Crowds and Empires: Afro-Asian Riots and European Expansion, 1857–1882,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 31 (1989): 106–33.

39 Ibid., 113–14.

40 Sir Bartle Frere to F. O., 28 May 1873 (in Indian National Archives) For. Dept. Proc., Pol. A., no. 302, March 1874, cited in Roff, “Sanitation and Security,” 147.

41 Nikki Keddie, Sayyid Jamal ad-Din “al-Afghani”: A Political Biography (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1972), 60; Azmi Özcan, Pan-Islamism: Indian Muslim, the Ottomans and Britain, 1877–1924 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1997), 90–94.

42 Qureshi, M. Naeem, Pan-Islam in British Indian Politics: A Study of the Khilafat Movement, 1918–1924 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1999), 17, 176–77.

43 Ibid., 14.

44 Eric, Hobsbawm and Terence, Ranger, The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 5.

45 M. E. Yapp, “‘That Great Mass of Unmixed Mahomedanism’: Reflections on the Historical Links between the Middle East and Asia,” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 19 (1992); Selim Deringil, “Legitimacy Structures in the Ottoman State: The Reign of Abdulhamid II, 1876–1909,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 23 (1991): 346.

46 Ibid.; Selim Deringil, “The Invention of Tradition as Public Image in the Late Ottoman Empire,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 35 (1993): 25–29; Özcan, Pan-Islamism, 52–53, 74–75.

47 Qureshi, Pan-Islam in British Indian Politics, 30–31, 42.

48 Ibid., 29; Özcan, Pan-Islamism, 69–70.

49 Özcan, Pan-Islamism, 56–60, 111–26.

50 Ibid., 75. See also F. O. 195/1653, in “Commercial exploitation of the Hajj involving forcible booking of tickets to India and the sale of Qur˒ans, 1888–1889,” in Records of the Hajj, vol. 4, 27–110. During the 1890s, British officials claimed that pilgrims were forced to contribute to Ottoman war coffers and pressured to buy Ottoman-printed Qur˒ans and steamship tickets at exorbitant prices.

51 Deringil, “The Invention of Tradition as Public Image in the Late Ottoman Empire,” 26.

52 William, Ochsenwald, “The Hijaz Railroad: A Study in Ottoman Political Capacity and Economy” (PhD diss., University of Chicago, 1972), 33; Landau, Jacob M., The Hejaz Railway and the Muslim Pilgrimage: A Case of Ottoman Political Propaganda (Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 1971).

53 Özcan, Pan-Islamism, 108–11.

54 Qureshi, Pan-Islam in British Indian Politics, 20, 25–29.

55 Özcan, Pan-Islamism, 90–93.

56 Keane, John F., Six Months in Meccah: An Account of the Mohammedan Pilgrimage to Meccah (London: Tinsley Brothers, 1881), 14, 286–87.

57 F. O. 685/1, “Report on the Establishment required to carry on the duty of Her Majesty's Consulate at Jeddah,” in J. N. E. Zohrab's Letter Book, September 1879, 442, cited in F. E. Peters, Mecca: A Literary History of the Holy Land (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994), 340.

58 Zohrab's comments are almost identical to the 1919 F. O. handbook on “The Pan-Islamic Movement.” F. O. 373/5/6, “The Rise of Islam and the Caliphate and the Pan-Islamic Movement,” January 1919, p. 60.

59 Karpat, Kemal, The Politicization of Islam Reconstructing Identity, State, Faith, and Community in the Late Ottoman State (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 245–48; Kramer, Martin, Islam Assembled: The Advent of the Muslim Congresses (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986), 1318.

60 Phillips, C. H. et al. ., eds., The Evolution of India and Pakistan, 1857–1947: Select Documents (London: Oxford University Press, 1962), 1011.

61 F. O. 685/1, Jidda, 3 July 1879, cited in Peters, Mecca, 340–42.

62 Özcan, Pan-Islamism, 93–95.

63 Roff, “Sanitation and Security,” 147–48, 156; Peters, Mecca, 340–42.

64 For more on Kamaran Island and its quarantine station, see John Baldry, “The Ottoman Quarantine Station on Kamaran Island, 1882–1914,” Studies in the History of Medicine 2 (1978): 3–138; Naval Intelligence Division, Western Arabia and the Red Sea (Oxford: Naval Intelligence Division, 1946), 464–72; Sayyid Mustafa Salim, al-Bahr al-Ahmar wa-l-Juzur al-Yamaniyya, 36, 50–51, 95–122; “Kamaran,” in Ahmad Jabir ˓Afif, ed., al-Mawsu˓a al-Yamaniyya, 2nd ed., vol. 4 (Sanaa, Yemen: Mu˒assasat al-˓Afif al-Thaqafiyya, 2003), 2456–457; Hamza ˓Ali Luqman, Tarikh al-Juzur al-Yamaniyya (Beirut: Matba˓at Yusuf wa-Filib al-Jumayyil, 1972), 7–12; Amal Ibrahim Muhammad, al-Sira˓ al-Dawli hawla al-Bahr al-Ahmar fi al-Nisf al-Thani min al-Qarn al-Tasi˓ ˓Ashar (Sanaa, Yemen: Markaz al-Dirasat wa-l-Buhuth al-Yamani, 1993), 110–13.

65 Roff, “Sanitation and Security,” 148; Records of the Hajj, vol. 3, 627–96; vol. 9, 71–210.

66 F. O. 78/4093, “Manual for the Guidance of Officers and Others concerned in the Red Sea Pilgrimage Traffic” (Simla, India: Government Central Branch Press, 1884); F. O. 881/3079, “Correspondence respecting Turkish Regulations for Pilgrim Traffic, 1875–1877,” February 1877.

67 Roff, “Sanitation and Security,” 152.

68 “British efforts to improve travel conditions for pilgrims; appointment of travel Agent; problem of indigent pilgrims, Oct. 1884–Feb. 1887,” in Records of the Hajj, vol. 3, 593–627; W. Fraser Rae, The Business of Travel: A Fifty Year's Record of Progress (London: Thomas Cook & Son, 1891), 208–19; Edmund Swinglehurst, The Romantic Journey: The Story of Thomas Cook and Victorian Travel (London: Pica Editions, 1974), 135–36.

69 F. O. 881/4585, “Report on the ‘Haj’ of 1882,” in Records of the Hajj, vol. 3, 114. Razzack's comments mirror those of the Ottoman chronicler Eyüp Sabri Pasha, whose description of the holy places (published 1884–1889) also cites the gory conditions at Mina as the primary threat to public health in the Hijaz. Eyüp Sabri Pasha, Mawsu˓at Mir˒at al-Haramayn al-Sharifayn wa-Jazirat al-˓Arab, vol. 1, translated from Ottoman Turkish by Muhammad Harb (Cairo: Dar al-Afaq al-˓Arabiyya, 2004), 114–18.

70 Long, The Hajj Today, 28–31; Peters, Mecca, 340–41; Mirza Muhammad Husayn Farahani, A Shi˓ite Pilgrimage to Mecca, 1885–1886: The Safarnameh of Mirza Mohammad Hosayn Farahani, Hafez Farmayan and Elton L. Daniel, ed. trans. (Austin, Tex.: University of Texas Press, 1990), 183–85.

71 Roff, “Sanitation and Security,” 152. For Abdur Razzack's murder, see F. O. 4788, “Disturbances at Jeddah, Murder of Vice-Consul Abdur Razzack, Indemnity, Vol. 1,” May 1895–August 1895; F. O. 78/4789, “Disturbances at Jeddah, Murder of Vice-Consul Abdur Razzack, Indemnity, Vol. 2,” September 1895–1896.

72 Ochsenwald, Religion, Society, and the State in Arabia, 195–200.

74 Roff, “Sanitation and Securtiy,” 156.

75 Bianchi, Robert, Guests of God: Pilgrimage and Politics in the Islamic World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 4244; Hurgronje, Christaan Snouck, Mekka in the Latter Part of the 19th Century (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1931), 290–91.

76 With the outbreak of plague, Britain reversed its previously timid sanitary policies, taking the unprecedented step of formally banning pilgrimage travel from India in 1897. Despite these precautions, Jidda was also struck by plague outbreaks from 1897 to 1899. F. O. 78/4981, “Pilgrimage Traffic, 1898”; Baldry, “The Ottoman Quarantine Station,” 65–67. For a more intimate perspective on the Jidda plague outbreak, see also the 1899 account of Mirza ˓Ali Khan Amin al-Dawlah, former Grand Vizier of Iran, Safarnamih-i Mirza ˓Ali Khan Amin al-Dawlah, ˓Ali Amini, ed. (Tehran: Intisharat-i Tus, 1975), 74–75, 148–52.

77 Long, The Hajj Today, 72–79; Huber, “The Unification of the Globe by Disease?” 466–70.

EMPIRE AND THE HAJJ: PILGRIMS, PLAGUES, AND PAN-ISLAM UNDER BRITISH SURVEILLANCE, 1865–1908

  • Michael Christopher Low

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