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Hajj-going from Britain The Pilgrimage Industry, Welfare Organisations & UK Government. Dr Se á n McLoughlin Theology & Religious Studies University of Leeds New Forms of Public Religion St John’s College, University of Cambridge 5-7 September 2012. Overview.

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Hajj going from britain the pilgrimage industry welfare organisations uk government

Hajj-going from Britain The Pilgrimage Industry, Welfare Organisations & UK Government

Dr Seán McLoughlin

Theology & Religious Studies

University of Leeds

New Forms of Public Religion

St John’s College, University of Cambridge

5-7 September 2012


Overview

Overview

  • 1) British Muslims and the Changing Hajj Industry

  • 2) Pilgrim Welfare Organisations

  • 3) UK Government & the Hajj


Background

Background

  • 2001 - previous work with British Pakistanis in Lancashire

    • http://www.leeds.ac.uk/hajj/research.htm

  • 2011 – 8 x 2hr initial interviews on the UK “Hajj industry”

    • In addition to 30 more interviews with British Muslim pilgrims

  • 2011/12 – survey @ https://www.survey.leeds.ac.uk/hajj

    • 211 responses - mid20s-40s, educated, ‘very’/‘somewhat’ religious

  • See also: the British Museum’s “Hajj stories” website

    • http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/hajj/hajj_stories.aspx


1 british muslims the changing hajj industry

1) British Muslims & the Changing Hajj Industry

  • Changing expectations of Hajj going with migration

    • Survey: 35% of grandparents had been, 80% of parents

  • Survey: religious duty key in determining when go (53%)

    • But personal need / spiritual journey important too (30%)

  • “Guests of God” – an invitation from Allah

    • But also financial, family, work & other constraints

  • Intensely foregrounded by media compared to the past

    • Information widely available - guide books, satellite tv, etc

      • but still anxiety / concern about fiqh (law), adab (manners) & modernisation


1 british muslims the changing hajj industry1

1) British Muslims & the Changing Hajj Industry

  • 18-25k go for Hajj, 100k for Umrah (highest in Europe)

    • High risk for operators, tight deadlines, rising costs

      • but demand has grown – British Muslim youth demographic; so potentially lucrative profits - £1k+pp (estimated)

    • Transformation of Hajj organisation from the mid-2000s

      • Saudi Kingdom’s response to overcrowding, health & safety, and logistics

      • Pilgrims must book a hotel room through an operator (group size = 150-500) but flights can be booked separately

      • Operators must be Ministry of Hajj approved (UK=75)

    • Professionalisation & consumer choice, £6k for 5* to < £3k

      • Pyramid of operator sub-agents at the bottom end - don’t always deliver

      • In making their arrangements, many pilgrims still often rely upon an informal bond of trust with family, imams - not contracts


2 pilgrim welfare organisations

2) Pilgrim Welfare Organisations

  • “I think the Hajjis from the non-Muslim countries are treated like orphans ... There is no kind of Hajj mission at the government level” (Government officer, British Muslim background)

    • In Muslim countries government has a key role in planning & facilitation of the Hajj in Saudi Arabia

  • “I wish there was a mufti of the UK who would dictate all those things ... but I don’t see that happening at all” (as above)

    • Question of religious authority but also organisational capacity is an issue

  • “We're not here for profit. It's solely for the purpose & pleasure of the Almighty Allah to ensure that his guests get the ultimate experience” (Pilgrim Welfare Organisation representative)

    • Religious service (khidmat) & the complexities of British Muslim voluntary organisations/civil society, their relationship to the state and ‘communities’


2 pilgrim welfare organisations1

2) Pilgrim Welfare Organisations

  • Association of British Hujjaj

    • Established 1998, Birmingham

  • Migrant generation Pakistani businessmen / professionals

    • Lack of support for British-Muslims if death, theft, etc while on Hajj

    • Need to educate pilgrims on health & safety, as well as the industry.

  • Lobbied government

    • Taken up by Lord Ahmed

    • Idea of a Hajj delegation from 2000

    • Need for special state regulation of UK Hajj / Umrah industry.


2 pilgrim welfare organisations2

2) Pilgrim Welfare Organisations

  • Council of British Hajjis

    • Established 2006

    • Gujerati Indian networks, Bolton-based. NB Lord Patel connection.

  • British-born generation

    • Key messages still not reaching the grassroots - “Put your faith in God but tie a camel!”

  • Operators need leadership

    • Code of practice? Self-regulation?

    • One voice to address the Saudis - a British Hajj & Umrah Council?


3 uk government the hajj

3) UK Government & the Hajj

  • 2000 - New Labour & the first UK Hajj Delegation

    • Regulation – responding to public health through partnerships

    • Recognition, soft power & good relations at home & abroad

      • First time that a non-Muslim country took such an initiative

    • Led by a political dignitary (Lord Ahmed, Lord Patel)

      • FCO consular advice & funded trips of several volunteer medics

      • Base in Makkah. No need to travel to Jeddah or Riyadh.

      • Thousands treated over 2-3 weeks; cost up to £85k with some sponsorship

    • The new Coalition government, Big Society and a ‘smaller state’

      • 2010: FCO discontinued support for volunteer medics

      • Not about the financial crisis and cuts?

      • A service without precedent, reduced demand & improved local provision?


3 uk government the hajj1

3) UK Government & the Hajj

  • Trading Standards in a London Borough (Tower Hamlets)

    • 34 complaints in the last 2 years

      • Civil complaints – changes to verbal agreements, e.g. different routes, stopovers, rooming, other services.

      • Criminal investigations of documented fraud

    • Case of Qibla Hajj Kafela Services (2009)

      • Cheap packages & absconded with £500k+, hundreds of passports

    • Response demanded by British Bengali mayor / councillors

      • Trading Standards visited mosques. NB addressing religious & cultural reasons for not complaining.

      • Held seminars for operators with FCO, CAA, BIS. Emergence of a self-policing association (10-12 members, 80% of local industry, ATOL registrations up).

      • Little local awareness of ABH or CBH


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