Wednesday 9 Nov 2016
Saudi Ambassador to SA presented with #Hajj2016 #AbramjeeOnHajj coffee table book
Social Activist, Yusuf Abramjee, presented a copy of his #Hajj2016 coffee table book to Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador in Pretoria today.
Ambassador Abdullah Mohamed Almadhi said the photo journal is “brilliant and it showcases what Hajj is all out.”
Abramjee launched the book recently and proceeds are going to two charities – Awqaf SA and Crescent Lifestyle.
The coffee table book has over 400 photographs and it was put together within three weeks. Abramjee undertook his first Hajj (pilgrimage) this year.
The book has been endorsed by scores of high profile personalities including Tourism Minister Derek Hannekom, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, former Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela, Anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada and world-renowned Islamic scholar Mufti Ismail Menk from Zimbabwe.
Dozens of books are to be donated to libraries.
Ambassador AlMadhi presented “a special gift” – The Holy Quran” to Abramjee and his publisher Yaseen Theba after receiving the coffee table book at the embassy in Pretoria.
The Ministries of Hajj and Information in the Kingdom will also receive copies.
This is the Ambassador’s foreword in the book:
It is an honour and pleasure to write a foreword to this inspiring and life-giving visual journey on Hadj.
The cities of Madinah and Makkah each have their own identity and venerated sites.
Saudi Arabia is a country where the pilgrims can experience spiritual heritage, museums, and sites which suggests the milestones of many important events in the growth of Islam.
Yusuf Abramjee’s text is a richly layered visual treat of a single pilgrims spiritual prism of Hadj , and yet it resonates with the “felt experience’ of millions of other pilgrims.
Especially poignant is the sub-text of this life giving text visually detailing his pilgrimage of the ‘spirit, heart, head and hand’.
These ethereal qualities of the ‘heart and spirit’ is captured eloquently in the way the pictures foreground random acts of spiritual kindness and fellowship.
The balanced style of the text is commendable.
One notices for instance, a guard cooling off a pilgrim, by generously spraying water in the air, given the heat.
This is counterpointed with visuals which show how Yusuf mobilised South Africans to generously feed other pilgrims and his deeply absorbed visitation to the Prophet Muhammad’s Mosque and later his hadj rituals .
Broadly, the pictures document through moving and uplifting visuals the actual Hadj, showing the protocol of the hadj rituals and their spiritual, transformational and existential significance, place, value and function.
Here is a text that also celebrates the vision of the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, His Excellency, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, to facilitate and enable the pilgrims to perform hadj with ease and comfort.
The pictures in the text bear testimony to the enormous amount of financial resources spent in the organising and provisioning details; including crowd control, infrastructure, transport, medical support services, helping the aged and disabled to be on Arafat for their supplications and invocations to God Almighty Allah (SAW), translation services, honoring the comfort of female pilgrims by facilitating their access to perform hadj rituals, etc.
Yusuf’s photographs bear testimony to the work of a consummate professional- his selection, ordering, cropping and point of view is socially constructed-as it has to be – but its uniqueness lies in its celebration of the implacable quest of the human spirit to do the Hadj, for the pleasure of Allah alone.
It presents as a text that is accessible, and illuminating, with an astounding visual richness, subtlety, and inspiring depth.
It is an invitational text, with a ‘conversational instructional’ focus – the visuals ‘converse’ with you through their composition and ‘instructs’ you, even as you use your own values to interpret the visuals sub-text.
This is a valuable and fresh contribution to the range of texts on Hadj.
It was a joy to review and I’m certain it will be likewise for others.
May it inspire other pilgrims to perform the Hadj.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia welcomes you. Insha-Allah ameen (God willing)
With kind regards
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