Abu Dhabi: Hundreds of artefacts, memorabilia and archival photographs documenting the spiritual journey of Haj, and the rich history of Islam in Arabia, and will soon take centre stage at an engaging exhibition at the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque in the capital.
The Haj: Memories of a Journey exhibition, which will open on Wednesday, September 20, will feature a unique narrative focusing on the Haj journey of the UAE’s founding father, the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
“This exhibition is a truly distinctive chance to promote the universal concepts of Islam amongst different generations and visitors to the country, including tolerance, cultural dialogue and openness. Through narrating the story of Haj with a wide range of artefacts and objects, we are introducing the historic legacy of the UAE, and the spiritual aesthetics of Islam,” Yousuf Al Obaidli, director general of the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre (SZGMC), said at a press conference in the capital today (September 12).
“We are committed to maintaining valuable principles and acting as a beacon for Islamic civilisation and this exhibition will act as a platform for cultural dialogue,” Al Obaidli added.
The SZGMC focuses on cultural partnerships and religious learning while highlighting Shaikh Zayed’s legacy, and the opening of this upcoming exhibition coincides with the 10th anniversary of the Mosque’s opening. It is being organised by the SZGMC and the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, which works to conserve the heritage and culture of the emirate.
According to details revealed at the conference, the exhibition will showcase more than 182 artefacts on loan from 15 institutions, alongside donations of personal Haj souvenirs. Many of these souvenirs were collected after the authority issued a public call for donations from residents.
A number of educational workshops and talks to shed light on the spirituality and inclusiveness of Islam will also be held at the Mosque until the closing of the exhibition in March 2018.
“The exhibition provides tangible evidence of the diversity of the Islamic faith, while reinforcing solidarity and a wider cultural exchange,” said Saif Saeed Gobash, director general at the Authority.
Among the six different sections at the exhibition, the Coming of Islam section will include a documented presentation of archaeological sites to trace the historical narrative, and chronological timeline of the innovations made, to facilitate Haj. There will also be a focus on the development of mosques in the UAE.
In the section titled Islam: Belief, Book and Practice, displays will explore the evolution of copying and codifying the Holy Quran, along with the development of Arabic calligraphy. A rare collection of Quranic pages, including a blue-painted leather print with gold, silver and other coloured ink from 900 CE, will also be featured.
In the Journeys section, a historic account of Haj routes will be recounted, including the arduous physical journey that pilgrims undertook across the Arabian Peninsula and the world at the time of Shaikh Zayed’s pilgrimage in 1979.
The Makkah, the Blessed section, on the other hand, will reconstruct the history of Makkah through photographs and drawings, and through the traditions and rituals of the pilgrims. This includes a documentary of a Mahmal convoy in Cairo in 1938 before it headed to Makkah, as well as niches that covered the Kaaba during different periods of time, and a replica of the key to the Kaaba from the late twentieth century.
The Madinah, the Illuminated section will showcases some of the gifts presented to the Prophet Mohammad’s Mosque throughout different eras, as well as historical photographs of the city that monitor its architectural development.
The last Souvenirs section will house a collection of souvenirs and keepsakes collected during personal Haj journeys, or others that were gifted by family and friends upon their arrival from Makkah, such as postcards, jewellery and postage stamps.