“This exhibition is for everybody, Muslims and non-Muslims, everyone who wants to know more about this extraordinary phenomenon, which is one of the great religious manifestations of the world,” said Neil MacGregor, the director of the museum.
“Hajj is the only part of the practice of Islam that non-Muslims can’t see,” he said. “It seems very important to try to explore that experience and to understand what it means to Muslims now, what it has meant through the centuries and to understand how that habit of pilgrimage has changed the world.”
It has taken three years and deals with museums around the world to bring together the exhibition.
The show uses priceless artefacts, video footage, personal audio recordings and photographs to explore the history, journeys and experiences of millions of pilgrims who travel from around the world to reach the holy city of Mecca every year.
The Hajj exhibition is the third by the British Museum in a series of sacred spiritual journeys that included “Treasures of Heaven” and “Book of the Dead”, and is intended to improve understanding of the pilgrimage and Islam itself.
However the exhibition, organised in partnership with the King Abdulaziz Public Library in Riyadh, skirts over some of the modern problems the hajj faces.
“Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam” opened at the British Museum on January 26, and runs until April 15.