Hajj-Journey to the heart of Islam at the British Museum

Photo Credit: © Peter Sanders Photography from the British Museum

How do you curate an exhibition about a spiritual journey? The British museum makes an attempt to portray Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, that very Muslim has to undertake at least once in his or her life. Today more than 3 millions Muslims travel to Mecca in Saudi-Arabia every year. Non-Muslims are not allowed to take part in this massive event and for this reason alone; the exhibition is an opportunity to take upon the journey into a different culture. As early as in 1853 Non-Muslims sneaked in and observed the tradition and mysteries evolving around the Journey to God.

Now, the thousands of years old journey greets you in the British museum with recorded chanting before leading you along ancient routes to Mecca. Even before the age of Islam, Mecca was a site for pilgrimage for people to worship Allah. It was a difficult and dangerous journey and would take at least a month travelling through the desert or by boat from India. Many of the pilgrims expected to never return from their journey. The British museum shows historic objects and clothing, of which some are still being used. But it also takes a look at modern Muslims gathering at airports and living in tent cities during their Hajj.  Unlike in other exhibitions visitors engage with the wall texts and take their time walking through the displays. Hajj is still a deeply personal experience and the curators tried to take that into account through personal statements, film sequences and photography.

Even, or especially for other religions and cultures it is a very moving experience to watch and learn about the sacred rituals. Islam is one of the fastest growing influences in Europe, yet many people know little about the religion. The British Museum has done well to support the exchange and understanding of cultures.

Students can get a 2 for 1 ticket Monday-Friday from 14:30 onwards.

On view until April 15th.

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