The Social Significance of Religious Guides: The Development of the Flow of Religious Capital in the Islamic Religious Tourism Industry

The Social Significance of Religious Guides: The Development of the Flow of Religious Capital in the Islamic Religious Tourism Industry

Shin Yasuda (Takasaki City University of Economics, Japan)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3725-1.ch010
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Abstract

As religious tourism developed, some stakeholders have focused on the religious guide as a spiritual leader of the pilgrimage to supply religious knowledge and deepen the spiritual experience of the participants. In fact, the customers of religious tour operators seem to recognise religious guides as the important element in selecting a religious tour, and religious tour operators actively promote these religious figures as a significant element in their tour services. This chapter, therefore, considers the social context of religious guides in the Islamic religious tourism industry by mapping them in the structure of the marketplace from the perspective of the flow of ‘religious capital'. Particular focus is placed on clarifying the flow of the religious guide's religious capital in the religious tourism industry, and the social networking emerging from the religious tourism industry through considering the novel use of financial and physical resources in the marketplace for religious tourism.
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Introduction

The worldwide tourism industry has actively begun promoting related religious pilgrimage activities, which are usually based on charity and reciprocity among religious followers and community members, to enhance the commitment of various stakeholders in the field. The rapid expansion of religious tour operators and other tourism stakeholders, who organise religious tours to religious sites, has encouraged an expansion in the number of religious tours to these places and in the number of participants, regardless of religion. As a result, this new form of pilgrimage activity, which can be called ‘religious tourism’, has become dominant in contemporary pilgrimage practices, visiting religious sites of any religion (Rinshede, 1992; Timothy & Olsen eds., 2006; Raj & Griffin eds., 2015; Olsen, 2018). Although some religious figures have condemned such developments, believing that they diminish the religious significance of pilgrimages, a majority of pilgrims have begun to participate in these tourism activities, which have become a part of their social life.

As religious tourism developed, some stakeholders have focused on the religious guide as a spiritual leader of the pilgrimage (they can also be called ‘spiritual guides’) to supply religious knowledge and deepen the spiritual experience of the participants (Shinde, 2010; Green, 2011, 2014; Reader, 2013; Kawashima, 2016; Yasuda, 2018). Some of the religious guides are firmly situated in a certain religious institution or religious hierarchy, while others are indigenous religious figures who sometimes remain ambiguous in any religious hierarchy. Although some of their activities are based on the traditional way of religious practices, other activities are recognised as innovative ones that go beyond the religious traditions. In this situation, people begin to choose their own religious guide according to his or her status in social life and religious preferences. In fact, the customers of religious tour operators seem to recognise religious guides as the important element in selecting a religious tour, and religious tour operators actively promote these religious figures as a significant element in their tour services to attract more customers. Thus, religious guides in religious tourism has become a significant topic to examine in this field of research.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Value-in-Context: It is the concept that context is defined as a set of unique actors with unique reciprocal links among them.

Religious Guide: It is a kind of guide who provides religious or spiritual experiences toward their customers.

Islamic Tour Operator: It is a kind of tour operators which organise Islamic religious tours ( hajj , umrah and ziyara , and halal journeys) for earning profit from their customers by providing travel services.

Religious Tourism: It is a type of tourism based on religious values. There is variety of definitions and contents of the concept in comparison with pilgrimage and other type of tourism like cultural tourism and heritage tourism.

Ustaz: It means ‘leader’ or ‘teacher’ in Islamic context, who supplies spiritual experiences in the process of religious tours. The word originally means ‘teacher’ in Arabic, which do not directly mean religious meanings.

Religious Capital: It is the concept that shows the degree of mastery of and attachment to a particular religious culture.

Cultural Sphere: A kind of public sphere driven by cultural activities in the process of communication and negotiation among the actors in the field. The concept is coming from Jurgen Harbermas’s concept of ‘public sphere’.

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