Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam has reached the target visitor figure for the exhibition receiving over 80,000 visitors in just over seven weeks. The exhibition opened on 26 January and runs until 15 April. The exhibition has been seen by a diverse audience including many family visitors (children under the age of 16 can access the exhibition for free). With only two weeks left the British Museum
has extended the opening hours of the exhibition on Saturday and Sunday evenings to release more tickets and meet demand as time slots are frequently sold out.
Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam is the first major exhibition dedicated to the Hajj; the pilgrimage to Mecca (Makkah) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which is central to the Muslim faith. The exhibition examines 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 has brought together a wealth of objects from a number of different collections which reveal the enduring impact of Hajj across the globe and the centuries. Loans include significant material from major public and private collections in the UK and around the world, among them, the British Library, the King Abdulaziz Public Library and the Khalili Family Trust. Together these objects 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 include archaeological material, manuscripts, textiles, historic photographs and contemporary art.
This exhibition concludes the British Museums series of three exhibitions focused on spiritual journeys.
Professor Nasser D. Khalili, on behalf of the Khalili Family Trust, has gifted to the British Museum two fine textiles to mark the occasion of this landmark exhibition.
The Khalili Collection is fortunate, after the Topkapi Saray in Istanbul, to own the largest group of textiles and objects relating to Mecca and Medina in the world.
The two sitarahs, or curtains, were made for the mosque of the Prophet in Medina, the earliest of which was commissioned by Sultan Selim Khan (Selim III) and is dated 1204 AH (1789-90 AD). The second curtain was possibly made for the mihrab, the niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the direction of the Kabah in Mecca, and was commissioned by Sultan Mahmud II who reigned from 1808 to 1839 AD. The sitarahs will form part of the British Museums permanent collection.