Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam
26 January â€“ 15 April 2012
Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam will be the first major exhibition dedicated to the Hajj; the pilgrimage to Mecca which is central to the Muslim faith. The exhibition will examine the significance of the Hajj as one of the Five Pillars of Islam, exploring its importance for Muslims and looking at how this spiritual journey has evolved throughout history. It will bring together a wealth of objects from a number of different collections including important historic pieces as well as new contemporary art works which reveal the enduring impact of Hajj across the globe and across the centuries. The exhibition will examine three key strands: the pilgrimâ€™s journey with an emphasis on the major routes used across time (from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East); the Hajj today, its associated rituals and what the experience means to the pilgrim; and Mecca, the destination of Hajj, its origins and importance.
It is laid down in the Qur’an that it is a sacred duty for Muslins everywhere if they are able to make the journey to Mecca at least once in their lives. This pilgrimage takes place during the last month of the Islamic year, know as Dhu’l Hijja. It was at Mecca that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) received the first revelations in the early 7th century, and therefore the city has long been viewed as the spiritual centre of Islam. At the heart of the sanctuary at Mecca lies the Ka’ba, the cube-shaped buliding that Muslims believe was built by Abraham and his son Ishmael. The rituals involved with Hajj have remained unchanged since its beginning, and it continues to be a powerful religious undertaking which draws Muslims together from all over the world, irrespective of nationality or sect.
A wide variety of objects will be lent to the exhibition. Loans include significant material from major public and private collections in the UK and around the world, among them the British Library and the Khalili Family Trust. These objects will evoke and dcument the long and perilous journey associated with the pilgrimage, gifts offered to the sanctuary as acts of devotion and souvenirs that are brough back from Hajj. They will include archaeological material, manuscripts, textiles, historic photographs and contemporary art. The Hajj jas a deep emotional and spiritual significance for Muslims, and continues to inspire a wide range ot personal, literary and artistic responses, many of which will be explored throughout the exhibition.
This exhibition concludes the British Museum’s series of three exhibitions focused on spiritual journeys.
In partnership with King Abdulaziz Public Library, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
HSBC Amanah has supported the exhibition’s international reach outside the KIngdom of Saudi Arabia.