Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam

On 26 January 2012, the British Museum opened the first major exhibition dedicated to the Hajj; the pilgrimage to Mecca (Makkah) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

One of the five pillars of Islam central to Muslim belief, Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim must make at least once in their lifetime if they are able. This major exhibition is the first of its kind to chart the history of this deeply personal journey.

Hajj certificate (detail). 17th–18th century AD. Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art (Khalili Family Trust).


The exhibition is organized into 3 main parts: the pilgrim’s journey, being at Mecca and the rituals of Hajj itself, and then finally what the experience means to the pilgrim.

Examining the extraordinary travel logistics involved and how the wider operation of the event has changed over time, the exhibition compares how pilgrims over the centuries negotiated this often monumental undertaking and how it continues to be experienced by people from all corners of the globe today. Beautiful objects, including historical and contemporary art, textiles and manuscripts, bring to life the profound spiritual significance of the sacred rituals that have remained unchanged since the Prophet Muhammad’s time in the 7th century AD.

Find out more about the exhibition on the exhibition website.  You can also read the Hajj stories of pilgrims (and share your own) on a dedicated page.