Monday, January 18, 2010

"Journey to Mecca" in IMAX is compelling and up-close indeed

The IMAX film “Journey to Mecca”, directed by Bruce Neibaur, offers the moviegoer, especially non-Islamic viewer, to experience the hajj closeup as it is looks in modern Mecca (surrounded by modern buildings) contrasted with the 14th Century , where the event is much smaller but the black kaaba (“cube”) is still viewed. The film was produced by SK Films and Cosmic Films, as well as National Geographic. The official website for the film is here.

The film depicts the journey of well-to-do law student Ibn Battutah (Chems-Eddine Zinoune) who takes it upon himself to travel to Mecca alone at age 21. On the way, he is waylaid by bandits, who give his money to the poor and force him to draw on rich relatives in Cairo to pay for “protection.” In the Mideastern world, right and wrong seems to be a social thing, despite the inflexibility of the Koran. He wants to cross the Red Sea on a frigate and finds it burned, and has to join an organized pilgrimage in Damascus. The journey takes 18 months. Ibn would not return home for thirty years, but would travel the far East in search of knowledge, during the golden age of Islam when it was intellectually the most advanced culture in the world. Ibn would eventually have a crater on the Moon named after him in his honor.

The last part of the film traces the entire hajj experience in detail, and shows the modern setting. The men wear white robes, usually around one shoulder, and look somewhat vulnerable as they circle the kaaba and go through other rituals, including prayers. The film shows Ibn getting his head shaved. That seems to be all that happens in the hajj, but there are some bizarre discussions of shaving and Islam (including the timing of it in the hajj and some urban legends about the practice and “jihad”) on the web.

For example, this link covers the basic practice. But this “military thoughts” references is a little more specific, here.

This one "about the body" is interesting,

as is this, discussing Mohammed Atta’s practice on 9/11, as shown in a couple of TV films (like Discovery’s “The Flight that Fought Back”), here.

Attribution link for Wikipedia diagram of pilgrim’s Jamraat

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