One thousand roads to Mecca : ten centuries of travelers writing about the Muslim pilgrimage

“The pilgrimage to Mecca, or the Hajj, is a journey all Muslims are enjoined to make once in their lifetimes. Its purpose is to detach human beings from their homes and, by bringing them to Islam’s birthplace, to emphasize the equality of all people before God. Since its inception in the seventh century, the Hajj has been the central theme in a large body of Islamic travel literature. Beginning with the European Renaissance, it has also been the subject for a handful of adventurous writers from the Christian West who, through conversion or connivance, managed to slip inside the walls of a city forbidden to non-Muslims. One Thousand Roads to Mecca collects significant works by observant writers from the East and West over the last ten centuries. These two very different literary traditions form distinct sides of a spirited conversation in which Mecca is the common destination and Islam the common subject of inquiry.”