July 17, 2008


In Mecca, a King Is Giving Lessons in Peace: A survey among pilgrims to the Muslim holy sites shows that they return home with sentiments of greater tolerance. Meanwhile, in Madrid, the Saudi king dialogues with Christians and Jews. Cardinal Tauran is there to represent the pope. An important document (Sandro Magister, 7/16/08, Chiesa)

[T]he Muslims who every year go as pilgrims from Pakistan to Mecca do not for this reason return more inclined to violence and more hostile toward the West and Christianity. The opposite happens. The pilgrimage instead increases sentiments of peace and tolerance, not only toward those of the same faith, but also toward non-Muslims.

About 2 million Muslims make the pilgrimage to Mecca each year, from the eighth day until the twelfth day of the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Their number is fixed in advance, and set in proportion to the populations of the various countries. In Pakistan, one must participate in a public lottery in order to be allowed to make the voyage. Those whose numbers are chosen will go to Mecca, the others will not.

The three scholars at Harvard – David Clingingsmith, Asim Ijaz Khwaja, and Michael Kremer – conducted the study on a twofold sample of Pakistani citizens: 800 who made the pilgrimage, and 800 who remained at home.

The survey reveals that the pilgrims are more devout when they return from Mecca. They pray more, they go to the mosque more often, they observe fasting more faithfully. They also tend to abandon the use of amulets and the practice of customs that are not genuinely Islamic.

Men's attitudes toward women also improve. On the pilgrimage, they find themselves side by side in equal numbers, carrying out the same rituals. And this has increased the number of those in favor of more education for girls, and their admission to professional life.

A positive impact is also shown from the encounter with Muslims from other countries with other ways of interpreting and living Islam, Shiite and Sunni. At their return from Mecca, many maintain that it is possible to live in harmony with everyone. And this sentiment is also extended to non-Muslims. Pilgrims to Mecca are clearly more willing than those who remain at home to consider the believers of other religions as worthy of equal respect.

On recourse to violence and hostility toward the West, pilgrims to Mecca are more inclined to peace than those who remain at home. When asked whether the goals for which Osama bin Laden is fighting are correct, the pilgrims answer no twice as often as the others. And when asked whether the methods used by Osama bin Laden are correct, the 'no's of the pilgrims are almost one third as numerous.

The most famous example of the moderating effect of the pilgrimage is Malcolm X, who was tragically murdered just as he and Martin Luther King were trading places.
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Posted by Orrin Judd at July 17, 2008 8:47 AM

Ah, clearly the greater tolerance inspired by the pilgrimage is exemplified by the inter-faith dialog having to occur in Spain because it's forbidden to allow the infidels on the land of the Saudi Entity. That's the kind of tolerance and moderation the Islamic Reformation will provide?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at July 17, 2008 11:27 AM

Hopefully. Western tolerance has been a cancer, malignant where practiced most.

Posted by: oj at July 17, 2008 12:09 PM

So you'd approve of forbidding Muslims to set foot in Christian nations, such as the USA? Finally, a crack in your open borders stance.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at July 17, 2008 4:09 PM

No, we're the most conformist nation on earth. Our Muslims are indistinguishable from Episcopaleans.

Posted by: oj at July 17, 2008 7:37 PM

Episcopalians? Seriously, now, try not to insult our Muslim friends. The Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire is best known for what, again? And it's a good idea to import millions more like him why, exactly?

Posted by: Random Lawyer at July 17, 2008 11:14 PM

Because that's how we Reformed Catholicism and Judaism too.

Posted by: oj at July 18, 2008 5:55 AM

"Reformed" meaning in context "turned their adherents into a bunch of lavender-leaning Euro-wannabes who like to dress up funny and bang on endlessly about the UN Millennium Development Goals"? The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson (Howard Dean's kind of bishop, surely) is decidedly not the "superior culture" that you want to import.

Posted by: Random Lawyer at July 18, 2008 10:14 AM

Muslims aren't the superior culture. Latinos are.

But by importing enough Sunni Muslims to make them the driving force in their half of the religion we can do what we did to Judaism--made Israel capitalist and the 51st state--and Rome--made the Pope Tocquevillian.

Posted by: oj at July 18, 2008 10:48 AM
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