Journey to the Centre of Islam

Medieval Depiction of the Ka'ba, Mecca

An Exhibition at the British Museum.

January -April 2012

The British Museum often mounts lovingly prepared exhibitions around a specific topic or theme. In this case, the theme is the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, which is one of the pillars of the Muslim faith. The exhibits are accompanied by extensive textual information, as well as video and audio material. All this material is so thoughtfully presented that a sufficiently assiduous visitor would leave the exhibition very well informed.

I was not that visitor; like most people, I cannot soak up an indefinite amount of information in one go and, in any case, I was accompanied by children with limited patience. But the curator’s efforts were not wasted on me, because all that care and thought brought about something which helped us all to be more receptive.

What most struck me were some of the processional banners and mahmals, principally decorated with Arabic calligraphy. They seem to emanate a sense of harmonious calm – a particular quality which I have come to associate with Islamic art.

I would also recommend buying the exhibition brochure. As well as being beautifully presented, it is well written – with insight and feeling as well as scholarship.

The exhibition continues until 15 April. More information can be found at tter& utm_medium=email&utm_content=open&utm_campaign=hajj

Felix Dux