Pilgrimage to the Caaba and Charing Cross


Hafiz Ahmed Hassan was an Indian Muslim, treasurer and advisor to the nawab of Tonk, Muhammad ‘Ali Khan (died 1895). Tonk was a principality in northwest India and is today part of the state of Rajasthan. When the nawab was deposed in 1867, the author accompanied him into exile, going first to Benares and then, in 1870, to the Muslim holy cities on pilgrimage. After completing the hajj, Hafiz proceeded to England where he spent a short time before returning to India. The focus of the book is his travel to Arabia on the hajj, with description of its rituals. It is a valuable record, in English, of the conditions and practices of his time. He describes the port of Jeddah, the buildings and surroundings of Mecca and Medina, and his fellow pilgrims, and he provides vivid descriptions of rapacious tax authorities and rough treatment by Bedouins on his journey. The book is an important companion to classic accounts in English of the holy cities by C. Snouck Hurgronje and Richard Burton. In addition to its Arabian chapters, the book details the unjust accusations against the nawab that led to his removal from the throne. The author concludes with a chapter about England and the English in which he, among other topics, contrasts the rigor of the British judicial system at home with the summary justice provided for Indian subjects, often at the whim of untrained British administrators. The book was published in London by W. H. Allen, a foremost publisher of works on India.

Last updated: April 10, 2015