Ithra Hosts The World Premiere Of The Hijrah Documentary At The Islamic Arts Biennale


Ithra’s documentary “In the Footsteps of the Prophet” premiered Thursday at the Islamic Arts Biennale. The production, directed by award-winning filmmaker Ovidio Salazar, tells the story of Prophet Muhammad’s eight-day journey from Makkah to Madinah in A.D. 622 when the Hijrah took place. During this period, Islam began to spread worldwide.

A man with a mission, Abdullah Alkadi has spent the past 40 years researching the route that Prophet Muhammad walked many centuries ago.

With binoculars, a wristwatch, and various smart gadgets, the professor of urban and regional planning at Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University studied what it was like to walk that path.

Using the new findings, he painted an accurate and realistic picture that gives today’s audience a deeper insight into a centuries-old event.

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According to Alkadi, “My life has been determined by my quest to study and experience, not only the exact route the prophet and his companions took across the desert, but also the wider story, life, and legacy of this journey.”

A section of the documentary is devoted to each of the eight days of the Hijrah, much like the book. A tale that has been repeated by Muslims and known by non-Muslims for centuries, the great migration of Prophet Muhammad has been one of the region’s most continuous narratives for 1,400 years.

Hijrah signifies the transition from the practice of Islam as an act of worship to a way of life, and Ithra’s exhibition, book, and now film capture that journey for modern audiences.

According to Dr. Idries Trevathan, the Hijrah route is inaccessible by car. It goes through meandering valleys, and it’s rocky. When you think of Hijrah abroad, people outside Saudi Arabia think of dunes. It’s not. It’s mountainous.

The exhibition was presented in collaboration with the National Museum of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh, the House of Islamic Arts in Jeddah, the King Abdulaziz Complex for Endowment Libraries in Madinah, and Turquoise Mountain, a prince of Wales charity supporting the arts and heritage in the Middle East.

Four years ago, Ithra’s Hijrah began to take shape, first with the exhibition, then with a book and documentary. As Prof. Alkadi guided us, we retraced the path taken by the Prophet Muhammad on his monumental journey.

In this sense, we created the map as a deep map of the route – not just a two-dimensional view of what is there, but rather the why and how of its existence.

“I hope that ‘In the Footsteps of the Prophet’ will contribute to forming a deeper understanding and start a conversation inviting everyone to reflect on migration as a whole.”

The Omani-English sound recordist and drone operator for the documentary, Jassim Al-lawati, told Arab News that the schedule was tough but rewarding.

The actor said: “I think we all knew it would be tough. I’ve done a lot of films and long-form TV shows, but this was quite different.”

We all invested heavily in it, both physically and spiritually. There was the local team and the logistics team. About 16 or 18 people stayed for the whole month. “The prophet walked for eight days, and all the equipment and charging took about four weeks.

“We went in January, so the weather was fine. Most of the people I spoke with think shooting the cave was the hardest day of their lives. We had so much equipment, we had to walk up there and film along the way.”

After years of living in London, Al-lawati called it the ultimate project that helped him connect with his “Arab side.” “It felt like the peak of your career, and maybe of your life,” he said.

In the documentary, Ithra hopes to transcend space and spirituality, and not just appeal to Muslims. As a longtime friend of Salazar and the film crew, Christopher Wilton-Steer attended the opening night screening.

“As a non-Muslim, I guess I’m looking at this as a historical journey. I was reflecting on what it would mean to a Muslim versus a non-Muslim.”

“This is a piece of history; unearthing this route, looking at the milestones along it. How the prophet took this journey, what he encountered on his way, the tribes that he met, and the geological features. So for me, I’m looking at it purely as a sort of historical piece of research.

It was the first time I had heard of this route. Although I had a vague idea of the Makkah and Madinah journey, I was unaware of the route. From what I understand, it took the guys about five weeks to walk that whole path, and it took eight days.

Among the biggest surprises for me was that these are stories we know from books we’ve read that are thousands of years old, but no one has ever charted them and used the technology to investigate them.

The more a story can be connected to the on-the-ground reality, the more it becomes more than just something that happened in the past. It becomes something you can see, touch, and feel today.”

As an artist who has hosted workshops and sold items at the biennale, Medina Trevathan said: “I’m excited to see the film in that visual format and I’ve been kind of perusing the book throughout the trip, and I’m thrilled to see the film in that format.”

“Hijrah: In the Footsteps of the Prophet” at Ithra’s Great Hall, Dhahran, was curated by a team of in-house experts led by Dr. Trevathan, the curator of Islamic art at Ithra, and Dr. Kumail Almusaly, the curator of international exhibitions.

As a result of the collaboration with Alkadi, a first-of-its-kind holistic and immersive experience of the prophet’s journey will be available.

A world-renowned team of subject matter experts in various fields has brought forth over two decades of research into the Hijrah project, according to Nora Alzamil, head of programs at Ithra.

“The Hijrah project by Ithra sheds light on one of the most significant journeys that have impacted civilization’s culture, heritage, and artistic vision to this day.”

The Islamic Arts Biennale in Jeddah will also offer a virtual reality experience of the Hijrah exhibition. Throughout the exhibition’s run, Ithra’s website will provide access to the guided tour, which will transport visitors to the Hijrah exhibition at Ithra.

Inshallah, the Hijrah film will premiere in Ithra as part of the Hijrah exhibition, said Farah Abushullaih, the museum’s head.

Following that, it will travel with the Hijrah exhibition to Riyadh and hopefully to Madinah in the future. After that, it will travel internationally with the Hijrah exhibition.”




Hashim Sheikh: He is a comprehensive personality whose personality has many social, philosophical and mystical aspects besides scientific and cultural characteristics. He writes many articles and also writes poetry from time to time.

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