Religious gift giving: An ethnographic account of a Muslim pilgrimage



Moufahim M (2013) Religious gift giving: An ethnographic account of a Muslim pilgrimage. Marketing Theory, 13 (4), pp. 421-441.

This article enhances the understanding of consumption practices, particularly gift giving, within the context of an Islamic pilgrimage called the ziyara. Pilgrimages are rich sites of analysis of entangled secular and sacred consumption. The findings of ethnographic research undertaken in this area have made a significant contribution to the literature on gift giving. Three particular types of gifts have been identified (1) ordinary liturgical gifts, (2) supplication gifts that invite ‘prayer’ counter-gifts and (3) soteriological gifts in the form of hassanat that are given to ensure other-worldly salvation. Pilgrims see the purchasing and consumption of gifts as activities intrinsic to their pilgrimage, even as sine qua non in the case of gifts distributed in the shrines. The consumption of material objects appears to be integral to pilgrimage rituals and transforms the intangible spiritual experience of the pilgrims into something ‘palpable’. The gifts are intended to embody the sacredness of the sites visited by the pilgrims and allow family and friends to partake in their sacred experience.

Islam; gift giving; pilgrimage; ethnography; barakah; soteriology; prayer;

Marketing Theory: Volume 13, Issue 4

FundersUniversity of Durham
Publication date01/12/2013
Publication date online12/08/2013
PublisherSAGE Publications

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Dr Mona Moufahim
Dr Mona Moufahim

Senior Lecturer, Marketing & Retail