Hajj: Journey to the heart of Islam, British Museum, London
Trust the British Museum, under the leadership of Neil MacGregor, to grasp the nettle.
There has rarely been a more pressing need in this country to shed light on Islam, and there has never before been a major exhibition dedicated to Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca which is central to the Muslim faith.
Had you been born a Muslim in India or China before the invention of steam travel, you would have been obliged to make this lifetime’s journey by sailing ship or dhow. Had you made the trip from a north-African starting point, a caravan of camels would have been your lot. Whatever your means of conveyance to Mecca, a city in an arid part of what is now Saudi Arabia, the trip was perilous. Little wonder Muslims were encouraged to believe they were guaranteed passage to Heaven even if shipwreck, cholera or bandits got them first.
Today, any number of specialist travel companies offer Hajj packages, relatively risk-free. Look up the British Museum’s helpful introduction to Hajj on the net and you’ll find them jostling for position. For Hajj has begotten a major industry catering to 3 million pilgrims a year, many of whom want guidance in enacting the six days of prescribed rituals. In addition to donning special clothing and getting special haircuts, these include gathering pebbles from a certain place and travelling to another to throw them, in memory of Abraham …. the entire article at the source