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Studies in Late Antiquity and Early Islam (SLAEI) # 19


A Lonely Wayfarer's Guide To Pilgrimage


‘Alī ibn Abī Bakr al-Harawī’s Kitāb al-ishārāt ilā ma‘rifat al-ziyārāt


Translated with an Annotated Introduction by Josef W. Meri



About the Book:

    More than 800 years ago, an Iraqi scholar, teacher, preacher, ascetic, pilgrim, ambassador, and counsellor to the ‘Abbāsid caliph left his native Iraq and settled in Syria. ‘Alī ibn Abī Bakr al-Harawī (d. 611/1215) came to serve Saladin (r. 564/1169–589/1193) and his sons as an advisor and an emissary to Christian rulers. Al-Harawī lived in an age in which the Jews and Christians of the Islamic world lived in relative peace and prosperity, even while Muslims were at war with the Crusaders. This period witnessed the spread of S&ūfī orders, the construction of domed shrines, and the growth of pilgrimage activities throughout the Islamic world and Mediterranean.

    Al-Harawī’s Kitāb al-ishārāt ilā ma‘rifat al-ziyārāt is the only known medieval pilgrimage guide for the Islamic world, North Africa, and the Mediterranean. This unique account is presented by Josef Meri in a meticulously annotated English translation along with the parallel Arabic text, and an accessible introduction that explores al-Harawī’s life and times. Among the pilgrimage sites included are the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the tombs of the Companions of the Prophet Muh'ammad in Medina, the shrine of the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law ‘Alī at Najaf in Iraq and that of the Prophet Ezekiel outside Baghdad. Also mentioned are Jewish and Christian sites and the antiquities of ancient Egypt and Byzantium. A Lonely Wayfarer’s Guide affords the reader a rare glimpse into the popular pietistic practices, rituals, and beliefs of the inhabitants of the medieval Mediterranean basin and the Islamic world in general. This guide testifies to the author’s reverence for the holy places not just of Sunnī and Shīī Muslims, but also those of Jews and Christians.


Publication date: 2004; maps; halftone illustrations; Index

Size: 6⅛ x 9 (15.6 x 24.1 cm); xli, 310 pages


ISBN 978-0-87850-169-4  $39.95  Buy it at Amazon.com!