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Pilgrimage /Christian, Muslim

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A Study of the Christian Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

And the Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca

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SSC 231 Cultural Conflict and Human Solidarity

University College Utrecht

May 2001


A French folklorist and ethnographer, Arnold Van Gennep (1908-1960) gave us the first clues about how ancient and tribal societies conceptualized and symbolized the transitions men have to make between states a statuses .   He demonstrated that all rites of passage are marked by three phases: separation, limen or margin, and aggregation.   By identifying liminality Van Gennep discovered a major innovative, transformative dimension of the social.   He is credited for paving the way for future studies of all processes of spatiotemporal social or individual change.   Various researchers have studied the study focus of this paper, the pilgrimage, yet Van Gennep led us to recognizing the significance in such cultural, religious behavior.   The two religious pilgrimages to be discussed in this paper are both the Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Land and the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.   Although these religions differ, they are none the less the two largest religions in the world and both take part in pilgrimages which demonstrate how close the two religions may be in their general beliefs and actions.   Moreover, the pilgrimage ultimately serves as a channel for ‘communitas’ and brings people to an end goal after a journey, which highly represents life.   The end goal for both religions is salvation from their almighty God.   Because Christianity is very familiar in the West, I will use it as a starting block for comparisons.  

To begin with, we should grasp an underlying image and idea of the pilgrimage.   Firstly, there is an undoubtedly initiatory quality in the pilgrimage.   A pilgrim enters into a new, deeper level of...


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