// British Museum to stage Hajj exhibition
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BrKhalid
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« on: Jul 25, 2011 04:35 PM »


Asalaamu Alaikum bro

This should definitely be worth a visit!



The world's largest exhibition on the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, is to be staged at the British Museum early in 2012, it has announced.

Manuscripts, diaries, historic photographs and contemporary art will be displayed to mark the annual ritual, undertaken by Muslims across the world


The museum's director, Neil MacGregor, said the Hajj was a cultural phenomenon "that needs to be better understood".

Hajj: Journey To The Heart Of Islam will run from 26 January to 15 April.


Pilgrim's journey


Every adult Muslim is meant to undertake the Hajj at least once in their life if they can afford the journey to Saudi Arabia and are physically able.

Many Muslims save for years in order to perform the pilgrimage.

Once they arrive, they must brave vast crowds and the fierce heat of the desert as they perform the Hajj rituals.

The exhibition will examine the pilgrim's journey, the rituals and the destination of Mecca.

It will also feature the work of contemporary Saudi artists such as Ahmed Mater and Shadia Alem.

Mr MacGregor described the Hajj as a "supreme spiritual moment for Muslims" which "shapes the notion of the Islamic community worldwide".

He added: "Very beautiful things, supreme works of art, have been made to be sent to Mecca to accompany people.

"We'll be looking at some of those objects and they are supreme."


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-14214855

Say: "O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is God's earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!" [39:10]
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« Reply #1 on: Jul 27, 2011 10:30 AM »

salam


I will take my girls inshallah when it's up.

The british museum is one of our favourites anyway.



Wassalaam

And when My servants question thee concerning Me, then surely I am nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he crieth unto Me. So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led aright. Surah 2  Verse 186
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« Reply #2 on: Jul 27, 2011 05:02 PM »

wsalam,

looks pretty awesome. definitely have to plan that into my visit over there someday Smiley

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« Reply #3 on: Nov 12, 2011 04:02 PM »

Wow it looks amazing... and love that girl's accent Smiley

!

For more information go to: http://www.britishmuseum.org/

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« Reply #4 on: Jan 22, 2012 07:39 AM »

Nice article about The Exhibition from the Economist

====================================

The haj
Journey of faith
Putting on the West’s first big exhibition about the haj has been a challenge


http://www.economist.com/node/21542734

Jan 14th 2012 | from the print edition

IN JUNE 2009 Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum (BM), flew to Saudi Arabia, his first visit to the heart of the Islamic world. He wanted the blessing of the Saudi royal family.

Mr MacGregor and Venetia Porter, the BM’s keeper of Islamic art, spoke to the chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, Prince Sultan bin Salman (known locally as the “astronaut prince” for being the only Saudi to have travelled in space). They also met Princess Adila bint Abdullah, a daughter of the king and one of the few princesses with a public role in Saudi Arabia, and her husband, Prince Faisal bin Abdullah, the new minister of education. At each meeting they outlined in detail the BM’s ambition: to put on the West’s first big show about the haj, the annual holy pilgrimage to Mecca.

All three royals were enthusiastic, which meant the project also had the king’s support. Conscious of the bashing that Islam had taken in the West since Saudi-born hijackers flew their planes into the twin towers in New York nearly a decade earlier, they saw the power of cultural diplomacy. A show that emphasised the ancient tradition of the haj, one of the five pillars of Islam, would be a source of pride for Muslims and a clear reminder of Saudi Arabia’s pre-eminent position in the Islamic world.

But organising the show has posed considerable challenges. The BM had to deal with 40 individual lenders from the Netherlands to Timbuktu, numerous different government ministries in Saudi Arabia and a nervous Saudi embassy in London. The idea of portraying in a Western museum something as holy to Muslims as the haj took some getting used to, and there wasn’t much to go on. Two shows—one on pilgrimage, in Christianity and Judaism as well as Islam, at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford in 2006 and another on pilgrims’ writings at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur in 2009—were the closest precedents. The potential for error or offence was considerable.

Terrified of being blamed if anything went wrong, conservative Saudi officials shied away from taking responsibility. Negotiations over the loan of antiquities from the earliest haj route, from Kufa (in present-day Iraq) to Mecca, proved especially complicated, as did agreeing what profile to give the sponsor, HSBC Amanah, on the exhibit labels. (For a bank to sponsor an exhibition about a religion that forbids charging interest was particularly delicate.) Even after the intervention of a royal aide—Faisal bin Muammar, director of the King Abdulaziz Public Library in Riyadh—it was only when the final shipment of loans left Saudi Arabia for London just before Christmas that the museum was certain the show would come off.

And what a show it is. Visitors are taken on a journey to the city Muslims call Makka al-Mukarrama (Mecca, the Blessed), just as pilgrims have done for hundreds of years and as Prince Charles will when he formally opens the exhibition later this month. A large black cuboid, hung with intricately woven Islamic textiles, rises at the heart of the show in the centre of the BM’s circular reading room. It represents the ka’ba (pictured above), the black stone that the prophet Abraham is said to have built and which pilgrims circle seven times as part of the haj ritual.

Through the ages, pilgrims have journeyed to Mecca via several routes. Mansa Musa, the king of Mali, became famous throughout medieval Europe and the Islamic world when he travelled across the Sahara from Timbuktu to Cairo and then to Mecca in 1324, accompanied by 60,000 followers and 300 pounds of gold, which he distributed along the way. Millions more pilgrims have travelled by road from Istanbul and Damascus or by dhow and steamship from Singapore and Mumbai, tacking carefully around the coral outcrops of the Red Sea. A long maritime chart from about 1835 written in Gujarati, Hindi and English shows what a fraught journey it was.

At least they had charts. Before Islam Mecca had been an important site for pilgrims from north and central Arabia. They had many deities including Allah, but once a year, during a sacred month, they travelled, following the stars, to the city to worship Allah alone. Mecca became an important commercial centre. The revelation starting in 610 of Islam to the prophet Muhammad, with Allah as its only god, transformed Mecca into the holiest city in the Islamic world.

The exhibition concentrates on this earliest pilgrim route, the 900-mile (1,448-km) road from Kufa, where pilgrims gathered from Iraq, Iran and Central Asia before making the journey south to Mecca. In the late eighth century Zubaida, the wife of the Abbasid caliph, Harun al-Rashid, ordered the construction of wells along the route, as well as forts, beacons, milestones and resting places for the month-long journey across the desert. She went on the haj five times and gave her name, not just to the route itself, but also to the irrigation system known as the spring of Zubaida on the plain of Arafat, outside the city.

Muslims are obliged to go on the haj at least once in their lifetime. So many pilgrims want to make the journey that the Saudis now impose strict national quotas (calculated according to national populations) on pilgrims.

Once arrived, they begin their rituals: the changing into simple white clothes, the tawaf or circumambulation of the ka’ba, the drinking at the sacred Zamzam well, the prescribed running and collecting of pebbles, the shaving or cutting of one’s hair and the renewed commitment to the principles of Islam. To most it is a transcendent experience. Muhammed Ali, the boxer, who made the haj in 1989, said afterwards: “I have had so many nice moments in my life. But the feelings I had standing on Mount Arafat on the day of the haj was the most unique.”

Rich as the BM exhibition is, much has inevitably been left out. Other than a maquette of the area around the ka’ba, there is little about how the site has grown or about the nightmarish logistics of welcoming nearly 3m pilgrims at a time to Mecca, nor about the horrific accidents that occasionally happen. A stampede caused more than 300 deaths in 2006, while in 1979 militants took over the grand mosque and were evicted by force. It would be interesting also to know more about the changes wrought by the quota system, which suddenly saw tens of thousands more Muslims from Indonesia and Nigeria where before they had come mostly from Saudi Arabia’s Arabic-speaking neighbours. Little attention has been paid to the economic effects of the haj, in Saudi or in the pilgrims’ homelands, and on how the pilgrimage is likely to develop in future. A small section at the end exhibits the contemporary art the pilgrimage has inspired. Each of these areas could be the focus of another show. Now the first big step has been taken, perhaps more will follow.

“Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam” will be at the British Museum from January 26th until April 15th
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« Reply #5 on: Jan 23, 2012 08:07 AM »

Another article on the show. This one by the illustrious Karen Armstrong...

Prejudices about Islam will be shaken by this show


The hajj, subject of a new exhibition at the British Museum, shows that a respect for other faiths is central to Muslim tradition
Karen Armstrong
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/22/prejudice-islam-hajj-british-museum

Ever since the Crusades, when Christians from western Europe were fighting holy wars against Muslims in the near east, western people have often perceived Islam as a violent and intolerant faith – even though when this prejudice took root Islam had a better record of tolerance than Christianity. Recent terrorist atrocities have seemed to confirm this received idea. But if we want a peaceful world, we urgently need a more balanced view. We cannot hope to win the "battle for hearts and minds" unless we know what is actually in them. Nor can we expect Muslims to be impressed by our liberal values if they see us succumbing unquestioningly to a medieval prejudice born in a time of extreme Christian belligerence.

Like Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Christians, Sikhs and secularists, some Muslims have undoubtedly been violent and intolerant, but the new exhibition at the British Museum – Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam – is a timely reminder that this is not the whole story. The hajj is one of the five essential practices of Islam; when they make the pilgrimage to Mecca, Muslims ritually act out the central principles of their faith. Equating religion with "belief" is a modern western aberration. Like swimming or driving, religious knowledge is practically acquired. You learn only by doing. The ancient rituals of the hajj, which Arabs performed for centuries before Islam, have helped pilgrims to form habits of heart and mind that – pace the western stereotype – are non-violent and inclusive.

In the holy city of Mecca, violence of any kind was forbidden. From the moment they left home, pilgrims were not permitted to carry weapons, to swat an insect or speak an angry word, a discipline that introduced them to a new way of living. At a climactic moment of his prophetic career, Muhammad drew on this tradition. Fleeing persecution in Mecca in 622, he and the Muslim community (the umma) had migrated to Medina, 250 miles to the north. Mecca was determined to destroy the umma and a bitter conflict ensued. But eventually Muhammad broke the deadly cycle of warfare with an audacious non-violent initiative.

In March 628, to general astonishment, he announced that he was going to make the hajj. This meant that he had to ride unarmed into enemy territory, yet 1,000 Muslims accompanied him. The pilgrim party narrowly escaped being massacred by the Meccan cavalry, and eventually entered the sacred territory of Mecca where they simply sat down beside their camels and refused to move. Knowing that they would lose all credibility if they slaughtered pilgrims on this holy ground, the Meccans negotiated a truce and Muhammad accepted humiliating conditions that filled the Muslims with dismay. But the Qur'an proclaimed that this apparent defeat was a "clear triumph" because, like Jews and Christians, the Muslims had acted in a spirit of peace, self-restraint and forbearance. Two years later, hostilities ceased and the Meccans voluntarily opened their gates to the prophet.

Clearly the Qur'an did not despise Jews and Christians; this affinity with "the people of the book" was also central to the Muslim cult of Mecca. The Arabs firmly believed that they, too, were children of Abraham, because they were the descendants of his eldest son Ishmael – a regional view shared by the Bible. It was said that Abraham and Ishmael had rebuilt the Ka'bah, the sacred shrine of Mecca, when it had fallen into disrepair, had dedicated it to their God, and then performed the rites of the hajj. Many Arabs thought that Allah, their high God, was the God worshipped by the people of the book, and Christian Arabs used to make the hajj pilgrimage to the Ka'bah alongside the pagans.

The Arabs had no conception of an exclusive religious tradition, so they were deeply shocked when they discovered that most Jews and Christians refused to consider them as part of the Abrahamic family. The Qur'an still urged Muslims to respect the people of the book and revere their prophets, but decreed that instead of facing Jerusalem when they prayed, as hitherto, they should turn towards the Ka'bah built by Abraham.

Like Abraham, who had not belonged to a closed-off cult, they would take no pride in an established institution and, as Abraham had done, focus on the worship of God alone. Hence the Muslim hajj is all about the Abrahamic family – not Muhammad himself. Pilgrims re-enact the story of Hagar and Ishmael, symbolically returning to the era that preceded religious chauvinism.

Alas, all traditions lose their primal purity and we all fail our founders. But the British Museum's beautiful presentation of the hajj can help us understand how the vast majority of the world's Muslims understand their faith. Socrates, founder of the western rational tradition, insisted that the exercise of reason required us constantly and stringently to question received ideas and entrenched certainties. The new exhibition can indeed become a journey to the heart of Islam and also, perhaps, to a more authentic and respectful western rational identity.
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« Reply #6 on: Jan 23, 2012 12:31 PM »

InshaAllah will be going in the next few weeks will give a review once i've been

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« Reply #7 on: Jan 23, 2012 05:55 PM »

Asalaamu Alaikum bro

Tickets are going fast apparently so if you do want to go, do not leave it until the last moment.

The good news is that kids go along for free.

Say: "O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is God's earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!" [39:10]
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« Reply #8 on: Jan 29, 2012 09:07 PM »

Editorial in the Guardian... definitely have to say OUch... nothing we haven't been saying for years on here...

===

The Hajj exhibition is in stark contrast to Saudi Arabia's cultural vandalism:

The Saudi elite are proud of the British Museum's Hajj exhibition – it's a shame they don't feel the same about all their heritage

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/27/hajj-exhibition-saudi-cultural-vandalism
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