will be the first major exhibition dedicated to the Hajj; the pilgrimage to Mecca which is central to the Muslim faith. Sponsored by HSBC Amanah, it 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 accross the centuries. The exhibition will examine three key strands: the pilgrim’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 Muslims 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, known as Dhu’l Hijja. It was at Mecca that the Prophet Muhammad 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 building 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 which includes significant material from collections in Saudi Arabia and from the Khalili Family Trust, as well as from major public and private collections in the UK and around the world will be lent for the exhibition. These objects will evoke and document the long and perilous journey associated with the pilgrimage, gifts offered to the sanctuary as acts of devotion and the souvenirs that are brought back from Hajj. They will include archaeological material, manuscripts, textiles historic photographs and contemporary art. The Hajj has a deep emotional and spiritual significance for Muslims, and continues to inspire a wide range of personal, literary and artistic responses, many of which will be explored throughout the exhibition. The exhibition will also examine the social and political significance of Hajj in relation to global trade and the transmission of ideas.
This exhibition concludes the British Museum’s series of three exhibitions focused on spiritual journeys.
Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, said 'The British Museum’s exhibition,Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam, will enable a global audience to deepen their understanding of the significance and history of the Hajj. In particular, it will allow non-Muslims to explore the one aspect of Islamic practice and faith which they are not able to witness, but which plays such a major part in forming a worldwide Islamic consciousness.'
Mukhtar Hussain, Global CEO HSBC Amanah & CEO HSBC Malaysia said 'One of the most important journeys any Muslim makes during his or her lifetime is either to perform Hajj or Umrah. As the world’s leading Islamic financial services provider, with a footprint extending across the Muslim world and beyond, HSBC Amanah is pleased to announce our sponsorship of the British Museum’s exhibition, Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam. The partnership forms part of HSBC’s Cultural Exchange programme which reflects the value that we place on the role the arts and heritage play in helping us see life from other people's perspectives, believing that understanding different cultures is vital for doing business internationally.'
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