Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler: The Hajj

About This Episode

“The Hajj is the iconic pilgrimage on Earth,” says host Bruce Feiler, as millions of pilgrims gather in the valleys outside the city of Mecca in today’s Saudi Arabia to take part in the annual five-day pilgrimage every Muslim hopes to complete at least once. Since non-Muslims aren’t permitted in Mecca, Bruce’s surrogate is Anisa Mehdi, a veteran reporter of the Hajj. Anisa joins a group of Muslim pilgrims from Boston who begin their journey in Medina, the second of Islam’s holy cities.

The Boston pilgrims follow Muhammad’s path from Medina to Mecca, beginning by circling the Ka’aba, the ancient shrine at the center of Mecca’s Great Mosque. Stripping themselves of worldly possessions for the duration, the pilgrims enact the rituals laid out by Muhammad, experiencing exhaustion, injury and elation as they seek forgiveness and inner peace. They leave with a new sense of connection to humanity, and to the one-and-a-half billion people that make up the worldwide community of Muslims.

Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler is an unprecedented journey to the world’s most meaningful landscapes and rigorous religious pilgrimages. The series presents a comprehensive picture of the practice of pilgrimage in its varied expressions around the globe, over thousands of years.