DR MOUNIA CHEKHAB-ABUDAYA is the curator for North Africa and Iberia at the Museum of Islamic Art, in Doha, Qatar. She completed her PhD in Islamic art history and archaeology at the Pantheon Sorbonne University in Paris and specialises in the western Mediterranean, manuscripts and pilgrimage-related devotional materials in the Islamic world. Chekhab-Abudaya taught Islamic art at BA and MA levels for four years at the Pantheon-Sorbonne and INALCO. She assisted at the Department of Islamic Art at the Louvre Museum in Paris for the preparation of their new display, which opened in September 2012. In Doha, she has curated several exhibitions including Hajj — The Journey through Art (2013–2014) in collaboration with the British Museum, Building Our Collection: Ceramics of Al Andalus (2014), Qajar Women (2015), The Hunt (2016), Imperial Threads (2017) and A Falcon’s Eye – Tribute to Sheikh Saoud Al Thani (2020).
ISLAM AND THE CONCEPT OF UMMA: PRESENTING “PRAYER AND THE MOSQUE” IN THE NEW VISITOR TRAIL AT THE MUSEUM OF ISLAMIC ART (MIA)
Islam as a religion defines not only faith but also ritual practices and religious norms, which have an impact on society. The birth of Islam went alongside the creation of a concept of umma in which different communities share a common religion and values up to the present day. MIA’s permanent galleries are presently undergoing a rehang with the purpose of adding a stronger educational aspect to the visitor trail providing more context and background information to its objects and making the stories more relevant to a larger audience and to the present day. MIA’s rehang project includes a whole section dedicated to the developments related to Islam with a specific storyline on prayer. This section narrates the geographical diversity of the material culture associated to the mosque and other objects of the museum that reflect the complexity of pious expressions and practices in Islamic lands.This paper will present the curatorial approach to this complex theme, yet essential not only from the perspective of a museum implemented in a Muslim country, but also from the significance of addressing the general audience with the multiple social aspects related to the Islamic art production. The presentation will be supported by objects from the collection, including prayer carpets, elements of minbars and mihrabs, as well as prayer books and artefacts associated to the different forms of prayers in the Islamic world.