Penang and The Hajj Conference


The Penang Story Lecture is open to the public and limited to 150 persons will be held in conjunction with a two-day conference on “Penang and The Hajj”.

PENANG STORY LECTURE, Keynote Lecture: The Material World of the Hajj in Colonial-Era Southeast Asia by Eric Tagliacozzo, 18 August (Sunday), 3.30pm-5.00pm at E & O Hotel.

CONFERENCE on PENANG AND THE HAJJ, 17 & 18 August (Saturday & Sunday), 9.00am-5.00pm at E & O Hotel.

Download registration form here.


Organised by Penang Heritage Trust and Think City Sdn Bhd, with other partners

From as early as the 18th century, Penang was a port of embarkation for aspiring pilgrims travelling by ship to the ‘holy lands’. The activity was centered at the port, Acheen Street and adjoining areas. This era ended in the 1970s with the establishment of the Tabung Haji (Pilgrims Fund) corporation and popularity of air travel. Thousands of pilgrims from Sumatra, northern Malaysia and southern Thailand went through Penang to realize the fifth pillar of Islam. Their reminiscences and collective memories deserve to be celebrated, consolidated and documented for posterity.

The conference will deliberate over some of these issues:

  • The Penang Port as a port of embarkation for the Hajj, businesses of Penang Sheikh hajis/pilgrim brokers, the service industry at the port cluster, ships and shipping (conveyance of pilgrims).
  • Religious, social and cultural change stimulated by Hajj returnees, such as Islamic renewal and reform in the formal religious education and literacy in the madrasa, pan-Islamic ideas, anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism ideologies, with implication to Penang and the region.
  • Colonial regulations on hajj travel, including the medical practices of hajj doctors in Penang and the quarantine station at PulauJerejak off Penang island, in addition to the functions of the pilgrim officers in monitoring the pilgrimage movement.
  • Travel preparations for the pilgrimage such as religious classes, currency exchange, packing the petisahara, clothing. The production of Hajj literature by the Penang Malay press and the narratives of pilgrims sharing their experience.
  • Socio-economic dimensions of hajj travel, such as saving schemes, exploitation of indentured labour, and the setting up of the monopolistic Tabung Haji (Pilgrims Fund) as an economic scheme in the context of national development.

The Penang Story Lecture and conference are organised by Penang Heritage Trust and Think City.

*The conference will mainly be conducted in English with papers in Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia.

The Organiser

The Penang Heritage Trust (PHT) is a non-profit non-government organization (NGO) established in Penang in 1986.  Since its inception, the Trust has been committed to the vision of preserving Penang’s heritage for future generations. PHT played a pivotal role in the nomination of George Town to UNESCO World Heritage status.

The Joint Organiser

THINK CITY SDN BHD (TCSB) is a subsidiary of Khazanah Nasional Berhad, the investment arm of the Malaysian government, and an urban regeneration agency operating in the historic city of George Town. It manages the George Town Grants Programme (GTGP), which is a public grants programme designed to protect and preserve George Town’s Outstanding Universal Values.