Chris Blattman

Close this search box.

How to randomize Islamic peace and brotherhood

A new working paper on the consequences of Islamic pilgrimages: peace and love.

Estimating the Impact of the Hajj: Religion and Tolerance in Islam’s Global Gathering

We estimate the impact on pilgrims of performing the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Our method compares successful and unsuccessful applicants in a lottery used by Pakistan to allocate Hajj visas.

Pilgrim accounts stress that the Hajj leads to a feeling of unity with fellow Muslims, but outsiders have sometimes feared that this could be accompanied by antipathy toward non-Muslims.

We find that participation in the Hajj increases observance of global Islamic practices such as prayer and fasting while decreasing participation in localized practices and beliefs such as the use of amulets and dowry. It increases belief in equality and harmony among ethnic groups and Islamic sects and leads to more favorable attitudes toward women, including greater acceptance of female education and employment.

Increased unity within the Islamic world is not accompanied by antipathy toward non-Muslims. Instead, Hajjis show increased belief in peace, and in equality and harmony among adherents of different religions. The evidence suggests that these changes are more a result of exposure to and interaction with Hajjis from around the world, rather than religious instruction or a changed social role of pilgrims upon return.

by David Clingingsmith, Asim Ijaz Khwaja and Michael Kremer.

2 Responses

  1. Great posting! Thanks for the links to the paper.

    This also gives a preview of all the wonderful things that should be in store for the new survey database (based on some 50K questionnaires for people in Muslim countries) that John Esposito spoke about in a recent Islamophonic podcast:

    Islamophonic March 2008

  2. I think that if we want to look at specific causes of these changes in Hajjis’ attitudes (and I’m impressed with the authors for using the proper term) we should look at the differences between the Hajj and other meetings between Muslims.
    In my experience (here in the States) Muslims tend to segregate them(our)selves by race, gender, and socioeconomic status, both at the mosques and at social functions.
    At the Hajj, there isn’t any of that. Men and women from all over the world pray side by side, all wearing the same garb. You don’t know who’s an I-banker and who has been saving for decades to make the trip. I think that sounds like a pretty powerful experience.
    Anyway, thanks for posting this. I look forward to reading the paper.

Why We Fight - Book Cover
Subscribe to Blog