Yahya Nurgat

PhD candidate
Yahya Nurgat obtained a BA and MA in history at Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL).

Currently, he is a fourth-year PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge, where he researches the history of the Hajj in the Ottoman empire. Focusing broadly on the 17th and 18th centuries, he examines the sacred space, ritual and religious experience of the Hajj at an important juncture in its long history. He is supervised by Dr Helen Pfeifer.

His research has been supported by a Principal's Scholarship (QMUL), the G R Elton Postgraduate Scholarship (Clare College), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and a fellowship from the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK).
The early modern Ottoman empire, Islam in the Ottoman empire, the history of the Hajj and pilgrimage practice in Islam, material religion, religious emotions and sensory cultures, the history of Mecca, legal history of the Hajj.
2019/20 and 2020/21: Guest lecturer on 'The Palace and the Coffeehouse: The Power of Place in Ottoman History, 1300-1800.' Class: ‘The Hajj Pilgrimage: Sacred and Imperial.’ (History special subject).
2021 ‘Between the Sacred and the Mundane: Travelling Practices of Ottoman Hajj Pilgrims c.1650- 1750,’ Travelling Practices and the Emergence of Tourism in the Middle East (16th-20th Centuries), Department of Near Eastern Studies, University of Vienna and Institute of Iranian Studies, Austrian Academy of Sciences.

2020 Invited attendant at Islamic Law workshop, University of Exeter.

2020 ‘Constructing the sacred: Ottoman guidebooks to the Hajj in the late sixteenth century,’ Encountering Religious and Ethnic Diversity: Practices, Petitions and the Production of Knowledge, University of Tuebingen.

2020 ‘ʿAbd al-Ghanī al-Nābulusī and the Hajj: Sacred Space, Ritual Practice and Religious Experience,’ Annual Conference of the British Association for Islamic Studies, Aga Khan University, London (Cancelled due to Covid-19).

2019 ‘The Great Meccan Flood and the (Re-)building of the Kaʿba: Between sacred space and imperial authority,’ MESA Annual Meeting, New Orleans (Panel: ‘Pious Encounters with Empire’).

2019 ‘The pilgrimage of the Iraqi scholar ʿAbd Allāh al-Suwaydī (1692/3-1760/1): emotions, experiences and transformations.’ Public lecture, Istanbul Şehir University.

2019 ‘Reflections on Or. 2385, a Pilgrim’s Guide to the Holy City of Mecca,’ LUCIS Summer School: Philology & Manuscripts from the Muslim World, University of Leiden.

2019 ‘Menstruation and the Ṭāwāf al-Ḥajj: A Predicament for Female Pilgrims?’ Menstruation and Menopause in Islamic Legal Cultures, The Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter.

2018 ‘Sacred space, ritual and the religious experience of non-pilgrims.’ Space and Surface, Cambridge AHRC DTP Conference, University of Cambridge.

2018 ‘Between Tiles and Prayer Books, Mediating the Hajj through Visual Culture,’ Space, Place and Dwelling, Tirana Spring School 2018.

2017 ‘The scattering of the Hajj: experiencing the pilgrimage in Ottoman Istanbul and Cairo.’

Graduate Research Day, University of Cambridge. 

2016 ‘Sacred space, ritual and religious experience and the Ottoman Hajj, 1660-1760.’ Global Dimensions of European History, University of Tuebingen.


Tags & Themes


Key publications


‘Menstruation and the Ṭawāf Al-Ḥajj: A Study of Ibn Taymiyya’s Landmark Ruling Of Permissibility,’ Hawwa. Journal of Women of the Middle East and the Islamic World 1:2 (2020).

Review article

'The Kaʿba Orientations. Readings in Islam’s Ancient House by Simon O'Meara,' American Journal of Islam and Society (Forthcoming).

Blog posts

‘Egyptian hajj murals. A centuries old tradition,’ Doing History in Public (Oct 2020).

‘Ramadan at home and the materiality of prayer rugs,’ Cambridge Material Culture Forum website (May 2020).