Compare Christian and Islam pilgrimages.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Pilgrimages to various holy sites, though undoubtedly important, do not have quite the same centrality in Christianity as the Hajj to Mecca has in Islam. The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, to which every Muslim is expected to comply. All five pillars impose a burden on the believer as a way of testing his or her faith. And the Hajj is one such test, a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in modern-day Saudi Arabia, which each Muslim is expected to perform at least once in their lifetimes.

Christian pilgrimages do not impose anything like the same burden on individual believers. For one thing, Christianity is much more heterogeneous than Islam, with many different churches, confessions, and sects, each with their own unique traditions.

Pilgrimages once played an important part in the devotional life of Christians. But after the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, they became much less so. On the whole, Protestants were hostile to pilgrimages, seeing them as an expression of a false belief that Christians could contribute to their own salvation.

Nevertheless, the tradition of pilgrimages still lives on today in the Roman Catholic Church. Even so, relatively few Catholics embark upon them. Those who do tend to be exceptionally devout. A difference can be observed here with the Hajj, which is a general obligation imposed on all Muslims rather than a choice exercised by a small but devout minority of believers.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team