Does the Hajj Radicalize Muslims? You Might Be Surprised By the Answer

Huff Post: by Erol Yayboke —

Every year millions of Muslims from around the world participate in the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Despite being a fundamental pillar of Islam, the Hajj is often misunderstood, especially by those wary of increased religion-tinged violence in recent years. The July 7 bombers of the London public transport system, not to mention the 9/11 hijackers, had undertaken the Hajj; could it have been the cause of their increased radicalization? Wouldn’t a yearly gathering of more than two million Muslim men and women from over one hundred different countries be a good place to breed religious extremism?

So, what is the actual impact of the Hajj on pilgrims?

Researchers from Harvard (Khwaja and Kremer) and Case Western Reserve University (Clingingsmith) decided to find out. They conducted an experiment on Pakistani Hajjis (those who have performed the Hajj) back in January 2006, comparing successful and unsuccessful applicants to an existing lottery system that allocates a limited supply of Hajj visas to aspiring pilgrims. Results suggest that while increasing observance of Islamic practices (praying, fasting, etc.) and better integrating the broader Muslim world, the Hajj also increases the desire for peace and tolerance among both Muslims and non-Muslims. Interestingly (and somewhat unexpectedly), Hajjis also show a (slight) movement away from prejudices against women.


Categories: Americas, Islam: A Religion of Peace

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