Searching for Light

Ithra’s ‘Searching for Light’ puts focus on Muslim people, places, and culture

Photographer Peter Sanders spent more than 40 years art capturing images highlighting faith and culture.

Ithra’s ‘Searching for Light’ puts focus on Muslim people, places, and culture

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) opens Searching for Light, an enlightening retrospective of the work of British photographer Peter Sanders, whose career spans more than five decades photographing Muslim people, places, and culture. 


Opening on Jan. 13 and running until June, Searching for Light brings together 84 of his most iconic photographs, including some never before seen, and represents one of the most comprehensive expositions of the artist’s work to date.


Sanders’ journey through photography began in the 1960s when he photographed famous musicians of the era before encountering Islam and refocusing his lens on its faith and culture. Sanders became a Muslim in 1971 and was one of the first Westerners to be granted permission to photograph the Hajj pilgrimage in Makkah. Over the more than 40 years of travel that followed, he captured over 500,000 images of Islamic communities across the world.


Searching for Light offers a deeply empathetic vision of the traditional world of Islam and an intimate view into one man’s restless search for light through diverse places, races, and traditions.
— Farah Abushullaih, head of Ithra Museum


“It is a thoroughly engrossing exhibition from an artist who is world-renowned for his ability to shed light on the rich cultural heritage of Islamic countries and reaffirms Ithra’s ongoing commitment to curating meaningful experiences that expand cultural boundaries and promote understanding and social harmony," Abushullaih said. 

Spread across five zones — The Beginnings, The Search, A Leap of Faith, Exploring the World, and Thankfulness — the exhibition forms a fascinating journey through Sanders’ life, documenting his remarkable transition from photographing rock ‘n’ roll icons to capturing timeless images of people and places shaped by Islam. 


The exhibition appropriately opens with “In the Shade of a Tree,” thematically centered on the wisdom of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). This compelling introduction is followed by “Signs of Fear” and “Signs of Hope,” documenting the ’60s cultural revolution, which then segues into a series of works shedding light on musicians from that era including Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Eric Clapton, and James Taylor, before transitioning into works that span decades of Sanders’ exploration of the world of Islam including works such as “The Place of Ascension,” “The Night of Reflection,” and “The Silver Thread Between Student and Teacher,” among many others.


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