Hajj: Journey To The Heart Of Islam. British Museum – London

The exhibition aims to explore the spiritual meaning of this journey for Muslims

Edited by: Matilde Casaglia – Art Editor (matilde.casaglia@positive-magazine.com)
Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam is hosted at the British Museum London until the 15th of April 2012.

“Hajj shall be observed in the specified months. Whoever sets out to observe Hajj shall refrain from sexual intercourse, misconduct, and arguments throughout Hajj. Whatever good you do, God is fully aware thereof. As you prepare your provisions for the journey, the best provision is righteousness. You shall observe Me, O you who possess intelligence.”
This is what the Quran reports about the pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim has to face at least once in their lifetimes.

The exhibition aims to explore the spiritual meaning of this journey for Muslims, and how this journey changed and evolved in the years and in the history even if its importance always remained the same, keeping a central role to the Muslim Faith.
To witness the fundamental impact of Hajj in the culture of Islam the exhibition features not only objects from different collections (public and private ones, from the UK and around the world) but also a large variety of photographs, archaeological documents, manuscripts, textile and contemporary art evoking the long and dangerous pilgrimage that every Muslim has to undertake to adore the One God together with all his brothers.

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, the fifth precisely and it formally begins on the eighth day of Dhul-Hijjah (Zul-Hijjah) the 12th month of the Muslim lunar calendar which falls on a date about 11 days earlier each year. The pilgrims have to walk a few miles to Mina and camp there overnight before.
When the pilgrim is around 6 miles from Mecca, he must dress in Ihram clothing, which consists of two white sheets. The main rituals of the Hajj include walking seven times around the Kaaba, touching the Black Stone, travelling seven times between Mount Safa and Mount Marwah, and symbolically stoning the Devil in Mina.

The exhibition explores three key strands: the journey of the pilgrim, from the most important routes used in the history (from Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East); the Hajj nowadays; Mecca as a destination.
The exhibition is hosted in the Round Reading Room of the British museum, to evoke the round walk that every pilgrim undertakes before being allowed to touch the Black Stone.

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