This article was first printed in emel, Issue 90: March 2012
Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam, is the only practice of Islam non-Muslims can’t experience for themselves. It is significant therefore that the first ever exhibition on the Hajj pilgrimage opened at the British Museum. A space has now been created to tell one of the many beautiful practices and stories of Islam in an accessible and visual way.
Hajj is a religious duty every Muslim must undertake, if they are able to, at least once in their lifetime. Hajj occurs in the month of Dhu’l-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar, and involves a series of rituals, which take place in and around Makkah over a period of five to six days. It is both a deeply personal as well as communal practice. In the exhibition we are reminded therefore of the story of British explorer Richard Burton who managed to disguise himself as a Muslim pilgrim in order to join the Hajj and enter Makkah in 1853.