Friday, 27 January 2012

Prince Charles inaugurates Hajj Exhibition at British Museum












Prince Charles inaugurates the Hajj Exhibition
at the British Museum

Dr. Mozammel Haque



I cannot tell you what a pleasure it is to have been asked to open this splendid exhibition celebrating the Hajj; one of the five pillars of Islam and thus of the greatest possible significance to the spiritual and temporal lives of Muslim people across the entire world – said His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Heir to the British Throne, while inaugurating the Hajj Exhibition at the British Museum, yesterday, Thursday, the 26th of January 2012.

The official opening of the Hajj Exhibition: “A Journey into the heart of Islam” was made in the presence of a large gathering of politicians, parliamentarians, academics and important figures in Britain, led by His Royal Highness Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Member of the Board of King Abdul Aziz Public Library; HRH Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz, Ambassador of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in London and HE Mr. Faisal bin Abdul Rahman bin Muammar, General Supervisor of King Abdul Aziz Public Library.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz
In the beginning of the ceremony, hosted by Prince Charles, Crown Prince of Britain and Prince of Wales, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah delivered a speech in which he welcomed Prince Charles, the audience and the guests of the exhibition. He appreciated the initiative of the British Museum and having the partnership of the first exhibition on the Hajj in Britain with the participation of King Abdul Aziz Public Library. He highlighted the importance of pilgrimage for being the largest gathering of Islam, goodness and devotion to God the Creator on the plan of Makkah; a safe sanctuary devoid of harm and violence and where pilgrims are devoted for the pure and lofty worship of the Creator.

Prince Abdul Aziz also pointed out that Saudi Arabia’s participation in this cultural exhibition aims to introduce the pilgrimage and to highlight the humanitarian aspects of pilgrimage since ancient time until now, and to display in this Museum the rare objects and artefacts as living evidences of the humanitarian values from diverse Muslim cultures and civilizations.

Prince Abdul Aziz addressed the efforts of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz saying: “Tangible efforts exerted by Saudi Arabia to spread peace all over the world through the initiatives of the Man of Peace, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and his humanitarian projects include the service of the Hajj and the development of the Holy Sites’ facilities in Makkah.

Prince Charles
Then the patron of the event HRH Prince Charles delivered a speech in which he said: “I cannot tell you what a pleasure it is to open this splendid exhibition celebrating the Hajj, one of the pillars of Islam.” He went on to say that the Hajj is of the greatest possible significance to the spiritual and temporal lives of Muslim people across the entire world.”

The Prince of Wales welcomed Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah who came to London especially for the exhibition which demonstrates the value of the exhibition for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Prince Charles emphasized the spiritual aspect of this trip made by Muslims to Mecca every year which is reflected in the subtitle of the exhibition: “Journey to the Heart of Islam”.

Prince Charles also took note of the twenty five thousand Muslims of the United Kingdom who go on Hajj every year which explains how it affects Muslims performing this ritual, and reflects the unity of the human race from all over the world through the continued pilgrimage over the centuries. He said, “The exhibition reflects the universality of the Hajj.”

Prince Charles also pointed out, “like me, you will see that, by gathering together a remarkable collection of treasures from across the world, this exhibition brings to life the very human stories of the countless generations who have completed the Hajj through the ages – from Singapore to Istanbul, from Nanjing to Mombasa. Through the vivid images and artefacts on display, the exhibition reveals the truly universal character of the Hajj.”

The Prince of Wales also offered special tribute to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz on the hospitality, saying: “I wanted to pay particular tribute, if I may, to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques who, in accordance with Islamic teaching, generously hosts Hajjis making the pilgrimage to Mecca, providing remarkable practical all facilities to them.” Prince of Wales also mentioned, this recalls the hospitality shown to earlier pilgrims taking example from the guidance of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the Islamic tradition dating back to the era of Abraham (peace be upon him) who built the Ka’aba.

Prince Charles also commended the British Museum and its partners, including H.S.B.C., for their vision and foresight in developing this exhibition and persuading so many distinguished collectors to lend their artefacts.”

In the concluding part of his speech, Prince Charles said, “I can only pray, Insha Allah that this exhibition will be, for all who see it, a source of education, of understanding and of delight. It therefore gives me the greatest possible pleasure to declare the British Museum’s Hajj Exhibition open.”

Mr. Neil McGregor
Neil McGregor, Director of the British Museum, spoke a few words on the objectives of the exhibition and its sections indicating the importance of the Hajj as the fifth pillar of Islam and the greatest phenomenon in the world which has a great impact in the lives of many people. Mr. McGregor said that the exhibition offers a look into the Hajj as a spiritual experience and explaining its logistics.

The Director of the British Museum thanked all those involved in providing artefacts to the exhibition, led by King Abdul Aziz Public Library and pointed to the efforts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the service of pilgrims and hospitality accorded to them under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz.

At the end of his speech, Mr. McGregor thanked the Ambassador of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz and Mr. Faisal bin Muammar, Advisor to the Custodian of theTwo Holy Mosques and the General Supervisor of the Library on their efforts to make the exhibition a success.

After the short ceremony, guests toured the exhibition enjoying all departments and watching a short film on pilgrimage.

King Abdul Aziz Public Library contributed to the exhibition some of the items reflecting the achievements and the expansion of the Two Holy Mosques since the reign of King Abdul Aziz until now. The Library has worked as a coordinator between the British Museum and museums and institutions in Saudi Arabia to display 51 rare pieces including parts of the curtain of the Ka’aba and rare pictures of Makkah and Madinah, in addition to artefacts from Darb Zubaydah, manuscripts, photographs and films on the Hajj.


1 comment:

Amy Alex said...

During hajj and umrah millions of Muslim came to Makkah and Madina but non-Muslims are not allowed to get cheap umrah packages so they may see this activities in internet and television like in this blog we see they visit the exhibition.