One of the oldest known Korans will feature in London’s Hajj exhibition at the British Museum from January 26 to April 15. This rare and valuable book is just one of the Islamic artifacts on display at the exhibit titled “Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam”.
“This is very significant object for us in the exhibition. It’s a loan from the British Library in London. It’s one of the earliest known Korans in existence, made in about the 8th Century, probably copied in Mecca or Medina,” exhibition curator Venetia Porter said.
The Koran was unveiled in London on Friday (January 13) to give visitors a chance to learn more about the birthplace of Islam, Mecca the sacred city and the annual pilgrimage.
The exhibit will display a collection of artifacts from archaeological pieces to contemporary ones. It will also tell the story of the pilgrimage that all Muslims are obliged to complete at least once in their lives.
The highlight of the exhibition is the Ma’il Koran which has attracted a great deal of attention while being carefully unpacked for its display.
According to Muslim belief, the Koran is the sacred book of Islam contains the word of God as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.
“The Koran was revealed in the Arabic language, it was written down in the Arabic script. And what is written there, the words are perfectly understandable to Muslims today who are reading their Koran. And this is a huge privilege to have this Koran in the exhibition. It’s very, very early - one of the earliest known from the 8th Century and it was probably copied in Mecca or Medina in the Hijaz. And it’s in a beautiful style of script which is one of the earliest forms of Arabic script called Ma'il, which literally means sloping. And when you look at it you really can see that it’s sloping from the top from the right down to the left,” said curator Venetia Porter.
The “Key for the Ka’ba” is also to be displayed in the museum which has been lent by the Islamic Art Museum in Doha, Qatar.
“This key is a symbolic gift that was given to the Ka’ba. It actually says on it ‘The Key of Ta ul Ka’ba’, and with beautiful inscriptions from the Koran on it,” Porter said.
Visitors to the exhibition will get to discover the four key historical routes that lead to Mecca - from Baghdad, from across the Sahara and via Cairo, from Istanbul through Damascus, and from across the Indian Ocean arriving at Jeddah, the port for Mecca and where pilgrims arrive today.