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Saudi exhibition on the Hijra highlights universal message of Prophet Muhammad’s journey 1,400 years ago

Dhahran: The route from Mecca to Medina through Saudi Arabia’s rugged Hijaz Mountains is less well known today. But 1,400 years ago, the founder of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad, was forced to take it when he had to leave Mecca to escape persecution for his religious teachings.

He and his followers set out overland for Medina, some 450 kilometers north, on the journey that came to be known as the Hijras.

Commemorating the anniversary of a defining moment in Islamic history, the journey, which took place in 622, was told through a comprehensive exhibition in Dhahran, in the eastern province of the kingdom. , aims to share the impact and relevance of the Hijra through themes of peace, freedom, tolerance, patience, courage and companionship.

Ashraf Ehsan Faghhi, program director at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Isra), where the exhibition is currently on, told Arab News: We are aimed at all who wish to be enlightened by the universal message of the Hijra. “

The Isla team spent three years preparing the show, which includes Islamic artifacts, contemporary art by Saudi and Arab artists, interactive installations, photography and video. (Supply/Isla Center)

Built by Saudi Aramco and inaugurated by King Salman in December 2016, Ithra is one of the Kingdom’s leading cultural institutions.

Isla’s team spent three years preparing the exhibition titled ‘The Hijra: In the Footsteps of the Prophet’, which will run for five years. Following its first nine months in Isla, the exhibition travels to Riyadh and Jeddah before heading abroad.

The book was curated by Ithra’s in-house team of experts in collaboration with Dr. I was.

The first exhibition of its kind, it depicts the events that led to the Prophet Muhammad’s decision to leave Mecca for the city of Yathrib (the pre-Islamic name of Medina), and the struggles he faced along the way. is included.

A portrait of the Al Saydi tribe by South African photographer Ebrahim Haji. (Supply/Isla Center)

Following intimidation and persecution by the Makkans, the Prophet Muhammad, his father-in-law, friend and companion Abu Bakr, and a small band of his followers departed for Yathrib, where he was warmly welcomed. it was done. Ansar, or Helper – a member of his Al-Khazraj and Al-Aws tribes in the region.

In recognition of their generosity, the city was later renamed Al Madinah Al Mnawwala.

“The Hijra’s journey marks the passage of time and the beginning of the Islamic calendar, and for more than one billion Muslims around the world, the Hijra is seen as the mother of all journeys,” he told Arab News.

“It marks the transition of the Prophet Muhammad and his followers from a persecuted minority to a community of world civilization. It was the most important event in his life and changed the course of history. rice field.”

To curate the exhibition, the team extracted stories from old manuscripts written in the first century of Islam. It was, as Faghhi described, they were “taking a walk”.

To mark the anniversary of a defining moment in Islamic history, the journey that took place in 622 was told through a comprehensive exhibition in Dhahran. (Funded/Isra Center)

Kumail Almusaly, Ithra’s in-house curator of the touring exhibition, told Arab News:

“We spent days climbing to the top of different caves, experiencing muscle aches and admiring the beauty of the landscapes. did.”

A documentary about Trevathan and Al-Musari’s journey in the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad is currently in production and will be released to the public later this year.

Trevathan recalled that the journey was tough, but very rewarding.

“When you walk the route, it’s a spiritual experience. It’s difficult and most of the route is still inaccessible by car. You have to walk it,” he said. “It was such a privilege to walk that route myself and connect with the Prophet Muhammad through the landscape.

“With this exhibition we wanted to draw not only on pre-Islamic culture, but also on these incredible traditions known as stopping at ruins and contemplating what happened there. was.”

A late 8th-century milestone from Daab Zubaydah, made of granite or basalt, on loan from the Saudi National Museum in Riyadh. This milestone was found along the famous Darb Zubaida, a pilgrimage route connecting Kufa and Mecca in Iraq. It was manned by the Abbasid Caliphate and used in the postal and communication system and for pilgrims traveling from Iraq. (Supply/Isla Center)

The exhibition was set up in partnership with charities supporting Middle Eastern arts and heritage: Prince of Wales’ Turquoise Mountains, Riyadh’s National Museum of Saudi Arabia, Jeddah’s House of Islamic Art, and the King Abdulaziz Complex for Endowment. Library of Medina. All of which contributed their work to the exhibition.

It includes Islamic artifacts, specially commissioned contemporary artworks by Saudi and Arab artists, interactive installations, photographs and videos, recreating the experiences of the Prophet Muhammad’s arduous journey.

“We wanted to create something special and different to commemorate the Hijra. When the Prophet Muhammad left the tribe 1,400 years ago, it was unprecedented. because it was defined.

“What happened was miraculous in every way. He abandoned his tribe and was accepted by other tribes in another town and accepted as the leader of society.”

fastfact

* The Hijra Exhibition of Itra marks the 1,400th anniversary of the migration of Prophet Muhammad from Makkah to Medina.

*Exhibition curators traveled the length of the Hijra route, much of which is inaccessible by road.

* According to the organizers, the purpose of the exhibition is to make Hijra stories accessible to non-Muslim audiences around the world.

In a nutshell, Fagih said: Being lonely is one of them. Prophet Muhammad was 53 years old at the time of the Hijra. He was given another chance and succeeded. He had only ten more years to live. “

The story is also one of humility, hardship, and beauty, intertwining past and present to bring you a fully immersive journey recollection.

“When the Ansar received these immigrants from Mecca and the constitutional provisions of Medina dictated how the immigrant community would be treated, this was setting a precedent for later generations,” said Trevathan. Told.

“When the Prophet Muhammad arrived in Medina, despite persecution in Mecca, he prepared this constitution protecting the rights of all religions and communities in Medina.”

The exhibition, the first of its kind, depicts the sequence of events that led to the Prophet Muhammad’s decision to leave Makkah and move to the city of Yathrib. (Supply/Isla Center)

According to Trevathan, in contrast to the acts of persecution so common in today’s news, “because some of the oldest religions are in the Middle East, and they were preserved by Islamic civilization, dating back to the Prophet Muhammad’s constitution.”

The theme of brotherhood is also emphasized throughout the show. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad and his followers were accepted as muhajiruns, or immigrants, by the rival tribes of al-Qazraj and al-Aws.

It is seen as one of the miracles of the Hijra and a lesson in tolerance, and organizers hope to resonate with audiences around the world.

The inclusion of many contemporary works of art from across the Islamic world is seen as a potential attraction to express the value and continued importance of the Hijra in contemporary contexts.

“The balance between Islamic and contemporary art throughout this exhibition is important to show the evolution and progress of the exhibition’s narrative in the modern era,” Farah Abushrai, director of the Isla Museum, told Arab News. Told.

Also specially commissioned for the exhibition were several works by skilled artisans from Afghanistan, India, Saudi Arabia and Syria. (Supply/Isla Center)

“By providing content that speaks to both types of works throughout the journey of the Prophet Muhammad, we are embracing abstract concepts and narrative gaps from collective narratives to more concrete contemporary perspectives. I am trying to fill the

For example, the idea of ​​brotherhood is poignantly expressed in a contemporary art installation by Saudi artist Zahra Al-Ghamdi. Zahra Al-Ghamdi is one of Saudi Arabia’s most famous female artists. Her work has been exhibited at Her Biennale in Venice, The British Museum, and Desert X Coachella. in California.

Al-Ghamdi’s installation, aptly titled ‘Brotherhood’, features knots made of fabric and clay, in which Ansar “selflessly welcomes Muhajireen into his home and supports them by sharing all their possessions.” I’m drawing a state.

In a statement preceding the exhibition, she said: The knot signifies a loving and intimate relationship between Muhajireen and Anser. “

Among the contemporary works is a painted copper object titled ‘Houseboat’ by Younes Rahmon of Morocco, reflecting the Hijra theme of migration.

The exhibition was established in partnership with The Turquoise Mountains of the Prince of Wales, a charity that supports the arts and heritage of the Middle East specifically. (Supply/Isla Center)

“I used the shape of a boat to embody a person sitting humbly for memory and meditation, and I borrowed the shape of a house to embody a home,” Rahmoun said in a statement.

Spanish calligrapher Nuria García Masipu created a calligraphic work “Umm Mabad Hiriyeh” about Umm Mabad, an elderly woman from the Khzaa tribe whom the Prophet Muhammad met during the Hijra and who later migrated to Medina. created. accept Islam.

Created by Masip, Hilye, or calligraphy panels, depict encounters in exquisite 22 carat gold and gouache pigments on paper.

“I found it amazing that the words of this Bedouin woman describing the Prophet Muhammad have been so beautifully transmitted and preserved over time,” Masip told Arab News.

Ashraf Ehsan Fagih, author and program director of Ithra. (Supply/Isla Center)

“As a female artist, I am doubly inspired and honored to be able to compose her words into Hillieh, who is essentially the prophet’s calligraphic icon.”

Also specially commissioned for the exhibition were several works by skilled artisans from Afghanistan, India, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Their work, using age-old techniques, pays tribute not only to the story of the Hijra, but also to its Islamic heritage and its preservation.

Talia Kennedy, Creative Director of Turquoise Mountain, said: A personal resonance for them.

“This is a story of perseverance, overcoming challenges, and finding a new place for spirituality.”

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2137046/saudi-arabia Saudi Arabia successfully separates conjoined twins from Yemen

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