Author Biography

Megan Adamson Sijapati is Associate Professor and Chair of the Religious Studies Department at Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania, USA. She is the author of Islamic Revival in Nepal: Religion and a New Nation (Routledge 2011) and co-editor and contributing author of Religion and Modernity in the Himalaya (Routledge 2016). Her areas of interest are religion and modernity, religious violence and non-violence, religion and the body, religious reform and revivalism, and contemporary Islam. She currently serves on the Executive Board of the South Asian Muslim Studies Association and has served on the Executive Committee of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies.


This essay focuses on first-person narratives from Nepali Muslims directly before and after their journeys from Kathmandu to Mecca, for the Hajj pilgrimage, in 2005-2006, collected and translated by the author. To date, studies and public representations of Muslims in Nepal in the period of Nepal’s long transition to secularism have focused predominantly on the population’s mobilization of religious identity and its religio-political aspirations, productions, and experiences that help to constitute it as a collective. These representations have been key in affirming Muslims’ rights as a minority in a newly secular federal republic of immense ethnic and religious diversity and a history of Hindu hegemony. Through the Hajj narratives of Nepali Muslim presented in this chapter, a contrasting portrait to these dominant representations is offered. This portrait offers a view into the interior religious worlds of Muslims in Nepal during this period. In them we get a glimpse of the every-day ness of their religious endeavors and the interior dimensions of piety that pilgrimage can cultivate, including a notion of collectivity that is based in faith and practice.


I would like to thank the United States Educational Foundation in Nepal for its support during the time the research for this paper was conducted. I also thank Jacqueline Fewkes for her close reading and helpful suggestions for improving the piece and the two anonymous peer reviewers for their feedback.

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