Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

Hajj for Peace

 by Bennett Gordon


Tags: Religious Tolerance, Islam,

Hajj to MeccaSome right-wing commentators have expressed significant fears over the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca being a hotbed of anti-Americanism. Undeniably, there are many people on the Hajj who don’t support the United States, but a new study published in the Social Science Research Network shows that the Hajj actually promotes “tolerance and understanding across peoples,” Ray Fishman writes for Slate. Participants in the Hajj are more likely to believe that Muslims—both Sunnis and Shiites—are able to live together peacefully and more likely to have a positive view of women after their pilgrimage. And although the anti-American sentiments in the test group remained unchanged, according to Fishman, “the Hajj may be helpful in curbing the spread of extremism in the Islamic world.”

Image by Ali Mansuri, licensed under Creative Commons.