Saudi authorities have described this season as “the largest pilgrimage in history” with the attendance of at least two million pilgrims.
The public can now learn more about the construction of the Kaaba through Qatar National Library’s (QNL) newly-launched digital exhibition “A Journey of Faith and Devotion: The Holy Kaaba”.
QNL launched the digital gallery on its website on Monday, coinciding with the start of this year’s Hajj season, the largest pilgrimage in the world. The virtual gallery enables users to explore the spiritual significance, architecture and construction of the holy site.
According to Qatar’s news agency (QNA), the exhibition provides access to 50 “carefully selected heritage items” from QNL’s Heritage Library, which shelters historic manuscripts, books and images.
“The exhibition also deals with the history of the Holy Kaaba since prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail – peace be upon them – lift its basis, and how poets used to compete among each other to win the honour of hanging their poems on the curtains of the Kaaba as a symbol of pride and high position,” QNA reported.
The Kaaba is centred in Masjid Al-Haram, or the Grand Mosque, which is Islam’s holiest site and is referred to as “the house of God”. The cuboid-shaped structure was constructed by Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail over 4,000 years ago.
The holy site is also the qibla, or direction, towards which Muslims around the world pray five times a day as they fulfill one of the five pillars of Islam.
‘Largest-Hajj in history’
Saudi authorities have described this season as “the largest pilgrimage in history” with the attendance of at least two million pilgrims as the kingdom returns to pre-pandemic levels, following the lifting of restrictions imposed during the Covid-19 outbreak.
According to 2019 data from Saudi Arabia’s statistics authority, the kingdom received a total of 2,489,406 worshippers, including 634,379 domestic pilgrims and 1,855,027 from abroad.
In 2020, months into the Covid-19 outbreak, Saudi Arabia slashed the numbers to below 1,000 amid global restrictions.
With the gradual easing of restrictions in 2021, Saudi Arabia welcomed 58,745 pilgrims, a much higher figure in comparison to the previous year. Last year, the number of pilgrims reached around one million.
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is obligatory for those who are financially and physically capable of doing so. It is required to be completed at least once during the lifetime of a Muslim.