Hajj and the arts of pilgrimage

Professor Nasser David Khalili
Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Hajj is the annual pilgrimage to the sacred city of Makkah, the holiest city in Islam and the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad. Every year Muslims from around the world arrive in Saudi Arabia and perform a series of elaborate rites which take place during five days of Dhu’l-Hijjah, the 12th month of the Islamic calendar. This pilgrimage has been performed uninterrupted since the 7th century and during the season of Hajj, Makkah is witness to one of the largest congregations of people at any given place and time, with some three million Muslims converging towards it from the four corners of the earth. 

The Khalili ‘Hajj and the Arts of Pilgrimage’ Collection – comprising some 4,000 objects related to Hajj and the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah – is considered by experts to rank in importance alongside the collections of the Topkapi Saray Museum in Istanbul. 

In this seminal lecture, Professor Nasser D. Khalili, founder of the Khalili Collections, uses masterpieces in the Collection to chart the visual history of the Hajj in a manner that's never before been possible. 


Professor Nasser D. Khalili, KSS KCSS is a world-renowned Iranian-born British scholar, collector, philanthropist and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. He received his PhD in Islamic Art from the School of Oriental Studies (SOAS), University of London, where he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship in 1992. He is also an Honorary Fellow of Wolfson College, University of Oxford, as well as a Member of its Chancellor’s Court of Benefactors.

Over the course of five decades, Professor Khalili has assembled eight of the world’s finest art collections, compromising of around 35,000 works, which have been exhibited at prestigious museums and institutions worldwide.




(Seminars start at 5.00 p.m.)