7 Things I’ve Done Recently (Part 1: “The Hajj”)

Despite an amazingly busy couple of weeks, I’ve managed to continue grooming my image as a highly cultured and intriguing human. Here is how I’ve done it, and why you should do the same. Entries will be released every day over the next week.

 1. Went to “The Hajj” at the British Museum
A gorgeous, in-depth, and sometimes emotional exploration of the world’s greatest pilgrimage, this exhibit features amazing artworks, artifacts, and stories that flesh out both the current and historic relevance of the Hajj. The exhibition begins with a hallway that forces visitors into a circumambulation of the exhibition itself, replicating the orbiting motion of pilgrims around the Ka’aba. Immediately, the meditative and symbolic power of that motion – of trying to see something up close but forcing yourself to reverentially walk around it before actually coming into contact – gets you in the mood to discover more.

The exhibition certainly delivers on the information front: the BM did not worry too much about keeping its texts short. Often, the labels overwhelemed the exhibition itself, as if you were moving around in order to read the next part of a book instead of getting personal with some objects. It was a relief, towards the end, when you had the opportunity to be amazed by some emotive contemporary artwork, or see a time-lapse of the movement around the Ka’aba. At the same time, every word was worth reading: whether delivering statistics or telling the tale of non-muslims infiltrating Mecca to have a look, the Hajj is never a boring subject.

Most importantly, the exhibition revealed how narrow our recent perception of the Muslim Faith has been. The numbers of people – Muslim or not – touched by or participant in this pilgrimage are countless and diverse. The Hajj, for someone such as myself who can only stand out of it, represents the power of faith to bring people together, to creating genuine phenomena, and to make us all feel like a small part of a massive organism. Certainly a worthwhile visit for anyone who knows little or wants to know more about this ancient and stunning human phenomenon.


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