A city before Mecca: Cairo and the hajj of Kanem and Borno pilgrims (12th-17th c.)

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This article explores the position of Cairo as a hub for pilgrims coming from the Lake Chad area, and especially from the sultanates of Kanem and Borno, during the Mamluk and early Ottoman rules over Egypt between the 12th and the 17th centuries. The Kanemi and Bornoan pilgrims staying in Cairo participated to the ḥaǧǧ, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, one of the most important rites in Islam. Considering the interwaving of politics, trade and religious practices related to the pilgrimage to Mecca, the ḥaǧǧ is a unique form of mobility. It respects its own calendar, its dynamics and its stakes . Beyond the religious aspect, it can be studied as a social and political historical phenomenon, but also as a facilitator of material and immaterial circulations . Here, pilgrims play a crucial role in fostering the circulation of ideas and the consolidation of transnational networks.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAn African metropolis
Subtitle of host publicationCairo and its African hinterland in the Middle Ages
EditorsJulien Loiseau
Place of PublicationLeiden
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Mar 2022


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