The Sacred Journey: Talk with Prof Richard McGregor

“Playing at the Sacred/Secular Boundary: the Hajj Mahmals of Cairo” with Prof Richard McGregor as part of The Sacred Journey: Rediscovering the Ottoman Hajj Route Exhibition

Yunus Emre Enstitüsü – London is excited to present the launch of the exhibition and talk series, “The Sacred Journey: Rediscovering The Ottoman Hajj Route“! The exhibition will be available to visit for free from Thursday 18th November 2021 to 17th December 2021 at Yunus Emre Enstitüsü – London in Fitzrovia on weekdays between 10 am and 6 pm! Rich in depth and breadth, The Sacred Journey will be accompanied by a 4-part lecture series both online and in-person by academics and experts on topics surrounding the Hajj journey.

The series’ first guest speaker is Prof Richard McGregor with the talk titled “Playing at the Sacred/Secular Boundary: the Hajj Mahmals of Cairo.”


The talk will explore the Egyptian practice of parading an elaborate mahmal (palanquin) and sending it on the Hajj between 1250 and 1950, with special attention to how the mahmal was both a devotional object and a symbol of political power. The mahmals themselves carried inscriptions attesting their dual identity as both sacred and secular objects. The sacred/secular boundary was also blurred when the mahmals were presented as artworks in museums, after 1950.

Guest Speaker:

Prof Richard McGregor


Meryem Kucuk


Thursday 25th November 2021


19:00 pm (UK time)

Online Webinar via ZOOM 

Admission is FREE but registration*** is ESSENTIAL via Eventbrite. 

About the speaker:

Professor McGregor’s area of expertise is Islam, particularly the medieval intellectual and mystical traditions. He explores religion at the intersections of philosophy, theology, aesthetics, and embodiment. His work has received support from the Fulbright Program, the American Academy of Religion, the American Research Center in Egypt, the Getty Foundation, the National German Research Foundation, the French Ministry of National Education, and the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada. He received his PhD from McGill University in 2001, and at Vanderbilt teaches courses on Qur’an and Interpretation, Sufism, and Method and theory in the Study of Religion.

About the exhibition:

The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam central to Muslim belief and is a pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim must make at least once in their lifetime if they are able. Taking place for centuries, this monumental journey has left physical and spiritual traces across the world. Following the beginning of the Ottoman rule of Damascus and the Hijaz during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, this journey took a new line of development.

Curated by Professor Andrew Petersen, the exhibition recreates the life of the Ottoman Hajj through pictures, documents, maps and artefacts collected by Professor Petersen and his colleagues over years of archaeological work! Rich in depth and breadth, The Sacred Journey will be accompanied by a 4-part lecture series both online and in-person by academics and experts on topics surrounding the Hajj journey.

The exhibition can be visited during the hours below.

Exhibition Dates: 18h November – 17th December 2021

Visiting Times: Mondays – Fridays, 10 am – 6 pm

Venue: Yunus Emre Enstitüsü – London, 10 Maple Street, W1T 5HA

Admission: Free

For more information on these talks and to sign up, please visit the Yunus Emre Enstitüsü – London website, or email the Institute via

This exhibition is organized by Yunus Emre Enstitüsü – London in collaboration with the University of Wales Trinity St David, London Central Mosque and Turkish Airlines