CAIRO â€“ The British Museum is set to host the world's largest exhibition on the Muslim Hajj next year with an eye to enhancing understanding of the Islamic spiritual experience.
"The British Museumâ€™s exhibition, Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam, will enable a global audience to deepen their understanding of the significance and history of the Hajj," Director Neil MacGregor said in a press release published on the British Museum's website.
The exhibition, the museum's first major exhibition dedicated to the Islamic annual ritual, will run from January 26 to April 15, 2012.
It will display archaeological material, manuscripts, textiles historic photographs and contemporary art that document journeys to the holy lands through history.
Muslims from around the world pour into Makkah every year to perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.
Hajj consists of several ceremonies, which are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.
Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.
"One of the most important journeys any Muslim makes during his or her lifetime is either to perform Hajj or Umrah," said Mukhtar Hussain, CEO of HSBC Amanah & HSBC Malaysia, sponsors of the exhibition, in the press release.
The exhibition will examine three key themes: the hajjâ€™s journey with an emphasis on the major routes used across time, the jajj today and its associated rituals, and Makkah, the destination of hajj, its history and significance.
It will also display works of contemporary Saudi artists, including Ahmed Mater and Shadia Alem.
The exhibition organizers hope that the exhibition will give a deeper glance into the essence of Islam, especially to its non-Muslim audience.
"In particular, it will allow non-Muslims to explore the one aspect of Islamic practice and faith which they are not able to witness, but which plays such a major part in forming a worldwide Islamic consciousness," MacGregor said.
Hussain agrees, noting that the partnership between the giant financial services provider and the culture institution in sponsoring the event aims to promote principles of tolerance, coexistence and understanding of the other,
The exhibition "reflects the value that we place on the role the arts and heritage play in helping us see life from other people's perspectives, believing that understanding different cultures is vital for doing business internationally," Hussain added.
British Muslims, estimated at nearly two million, have been in the eye of storm since the 7/7 attacks.
A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.
A poll of the Evening Standard found that a sizable section of London residents harbor negative opinions about Muslims.
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