The diaries of Muhammad ‘Ali Effendi Sa‘udi, a civil servant and accomplished photographer, offer a rare glimpse of the Hajj through Egyptian eyes at the beginning of the twentieth century when the Ottoman Empire was on the wane and the advance of the Hijaz railway threatened to upset vested interests in the old pattern of pilgrimage. Sa‘udi twice accompanied the Amir al-Hajj, Ibrahim Rif‘at Pasha, attached to the official Egyptian caravan. His story of these journeys combines the thoughts of a devout Muslim with fine detail on the hardships and health hazards facing pilgrims, the high-level intrigues, and the ever-present dangers of taking photographs. The authors have compressed the diaries into a highly readable narrative with selected quotations, lavishly illustrated with Sa‘udi’s remarkable photographs.
FaridKioumgi is a specialist on literature and travel to the Middle East, including historical documents, lithographs, and nineteenth-century photographs.
Robert Graham is currently a freelance writer living in Paris and southern Spain. In 2004 he was awarded the OBE for services to journalism.
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