The largest ever exhibition on Hajj in the west, entitled “Journey to the heart of Islam” was officially opened at the British Museum by Prince Charles and Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdulla deputy minister of foreign affairs in Saudi Arabia.
King Abdulaziz public library a major contributor to the Hajj exhibition painstakingly gathered other treasures from public and private collection from the UK, Saudi Arabia and other parts of the world to display over 250 remarkable items.
Prince Charles emphasized the spiritual aspect of this trip made by 3 million Muslims to Makkah every year and paid special tribute to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdulla bin Abdulaziz on the hospitality to pilgrims in providing all facilities to them.
Beautiful relics, including historical and contemporary art, textiles and manuscripts bring to life the profound significance of the Hajj, the pilgrimage that has remained unchanged since the prophet Mohamed's time in the seventh century.
The exhibition traces some of the main routes Muslims have followed over the centuries to get to Makkah, including from Kufa, Cairo and Damascus, and seeks to explain some of the rituals associated with the Hajj.
It features recorded accounts of what the journey meant to Muslims around the world and includes loaned items from Saudi Arabia such as a “sitara” which covers the door of the Ka’ba.
Among the artifacts on display is a “Mahmal”, one of the ceremonial curtained transports in which the Sultans were carried from Cairo to Makkah, and a copy of the holy Qur’an from the eighth century.
Also on show is “Milestone”, one of the stone slabs once used by pilgrims in Iraq to mark their route to Makkah, so they could find their way home.
“Magnetism”, a minimalist piece of art by Saudi artist Ahmed Mater of the Ka’ba, adds a modern touch.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdulla deputy foreign minister and member of the board of King Abdulaziz public library expressed how proud Saudi Arabia is to participate in this event since it host the largest annual gathering for peace , goodness and devotion to God the creator.
The Hajj exhibition offers the opportunity to hear both contemporary and historic pilgrim's experiences and the chance to Muslims and non-Muslims alike to see and understand this spiritual journey that is part of the Muslim faith.
Prince Mohamed bin Nawaf the Saudi ambassador in London pointed out that Hajj exhibition is an expression of peace, unity and harmony among all men and women from different ages and countries.
“Hajj … Journey to heart of Islam” will run till the 15th of April.