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Hajj in the French North African possessions (end of the 18th – first half of the 19th centuries)

Prousskaïa Evguenia

The pilgrimage to the holy places of Islam in Mecca and Medina – the Hajj – is an integral part of the religious duty of Muslims, one of the pillars of Islam. It is supposed to be carried out at least once in a lifetime by every Muslim. However, the hajj has always been a difficult undertaking, since a pilgrim had to make a long and physically difficult journey, especially if his journey began from regions remote from Mecca. Beginning from 1798, when Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt and further as French colonial influence in North Africa expanded, the issue of the French attitude towards the hajj and the need to support it by the French administration raise up again and again. And if in Egypt the hajj was immediately supported by the administration of Napoleon Bonaparte, then in Algeria, the conquest of which began in 1830, the first organization of the hajj was undertaken by the colonial administration only in 1842. In this article the author examines a complex of issues connected with the discussions about and ways of organizing hajj by the French conquerors in North Africa during the Egyptian campaign (1798-1801) and the first two decades of the conquest of Algeria (1830-1850). The organization of the Hajj in the conquered territories pursued purely rational, political goals. Interaction with Islamic institutions was necessary for the French establishment as part of the integration of vast territories with the Muslim population into the French imperial space.

Keywords: hajj, French Algeria, French expedition to Egypt
Link: Prousskaïa E. Hajj in the French North African possessions (end of the 18th – first half of the 19th centuries) // Annual of French Studies 2019: The era of Napoleon and her memory.М. P. 172-188.