Author: Siobhan Lambert-Hurley
Publisher: Kali/Women Unlimited
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8188965383
In 1870, Nawab Sikandar Begum of Bhopal became the first Muslim woman to publish an account of her Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. She traveled with a retinue of a thousand, visited Jeddah and Mecca, performed the requisite rituals and observances, then returned to India and wrote her impressions of her visit.
Sikandar Begum’s critical and often surprising description provides unique insight into the factors that went into writing this quintessentially Muslim journey in a colonial environment. At the same time, it documents a process by which notions of the self could be redefined against a Muslim ‘other’, and the way in which Arabia was constructed by a colonial subject as part of a modernist discourse about ‘the Orient’. What emerges is a snapshot of Sikandar Begum as a genuinely complex individual as she negotiated with the colonial power, her fellow Indians and her South and Western Asian co-religionists to craft an image of herself as an effective administrator, a loyal subject and a good Muslim.
Reproduced here, “A Pilgrimage to Mecca” is the original English translation by the wife of a British colonial officer, of an unpublished Urdu manuscript. It is accompanied by a critical Introduction and Afterword that make this offering a comprehensive resource on travel writing by South Asian Muslim women, and encourage the reader – whether scholar, student or enthusiast – to rethink established understandings relating to travel writing, colonialism and world history.
Preface and Acknowledgements
An Introduction to Nawab Sikandar Begum’s
Account of Hajj
A PILGRIMAGE TO MECCA
The Nawab Sikandar Begum of Bhopal
Afterword: Muslim Women Write
Their Journeys Abroad