The Pagan Rituals of pre-Islamic Mecca, with Barnaby Rogerson

Stunning exploration of the Pagan beliefs and practices of pre-Islamic Mecca, and their influence upon the rites and rituals of present day Islam

The legendary Barnaby Rogerson, author, scholar, traveller and publisher, for this stunning exploration of the Pagan beliefs and practices of pre-Islamic Mecca, and their influence upon the rites and rituals of present day Islam.

As a historian of North Africa, Barnaby became fascinated by the Hajj - the pilgrimage to Mecca, one of the five pillars of Islam - and the incredible fertilisation of minds and ideas, the extraordinary inter-connections within the Muslim world, to which this greatest of annual gatherings gave birth.

Barnaby knew the broad outline of what happened: the seven circuits of the Kaaba; the running between the two hills of Safa and Marwa (again, seven times); the camp at Mina; the march out to Arafat; the various stonings of the Satan-stones (once more in units of seven); then the overnight camp at [Muzdalifa]() and the sacrifice at Mina before the joyful return to the Kaaba for a final seven circuits. But where does all this fit into the life of Mohammed or the revelations of the Koran? For that was the point of the Hajj, surely?

“It took a long time for the penny to drop,” Barnaby writes. “I can remember the instant to this day. I was once again quizzing a Muslim friend about the Hajj and asking about the Jebel Nur, the Mountain of Light, where that first famous revelation came upon the Prophet. This, for me, was an incident in historical time that lies at the very heart of Islam. So I was amazed to hear that not only was there no shrine there, no mosque, but there were some old quarry workings with some rather messy graffiti and that visitors were actually discouraged from ascending the mountain. ... .....It was then that I realized that nothing about the Hajj rituals was based either upon the revelation of the Koran or the life of the Prophet himself.”

So what are these rituals based on?

This talk examines this intriguing question and speculates on the pagan origins of the Hajj rituals.

Barnaby Rogerson

Travel was always a vital aspect of Barnaby’s childhood: conceived on a yacht and following his father’s naval postings to Malta, Gibraltar, Skye and “ a blissful two years near the Dismal Swamp in Virginia Beach”, he found himself unable to stay still for very long.

Following a degree in medieval history at St. Andrew’s he worked as a barman, a tutor to a child star on a Greek island, a pony boy in the Highlands and a job in the press department of the Afghanistan Support Committee. A chance encounter in the Outer Hebrides led, of course, to his first commission to write a guidebook to Morocco.

Barnaby Rogerson has written [half a dozen guidebooks ( to Istanbul, Morocco, Tunisia, Cyprus etc.), the Traveller’s History of North Africa ; The Prophet Muhammad, a Biography; The Heirs of the Prophet and The Last Crusaders.

All his books have been received with tremendous critical enthusiasm and acclaim. He is one of our greatest writers on Islam and its history. He has written articles and reviews for the TLS; Vanity Fair; The Guardian; The Independent; House & Garden; Harpers & Queen; Cornucopia; and the daily Telegraph. He now runs, with his partner Rose Baring, the most excellent Eland Publishing which specializes in keeping the classics of Travel Literature in print. The 100 deeply desirable titles of this growing list can be viewed at www.

2013Martin Keeley