'Stairway to Heaven' is the story of an ancient and magnificent work of sacred art, whose loss not only shook the art world, but triggered the shocking realisation that traditional Islamic knowledge and skills have all but vanished.
In 1969, the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem was attacked by a fanatic, and in the blaze that followed, one of the world's most precious works of art, the minbar of Saladin, originally installed in 1187, was destroyed. The minbar lay in ashes. Thirty years later, the royal family of Jordan, as the traditional guardians of the Al-Aqsa mosque, decided to reconstruct the minbar. Fortunately, some black and white photos survived, which showed an intricately constructed pulpit from more than 16,000 hand-carved pieces of walnut, ivory and ebony, held together without glue or nails. Using sacred geometry and the richness of symbolism, the minbar was a masterwork of Islamic art.
Narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Sir Kenneth Branagh ('Belfast', 2021), 'Stairway to Heaven' chronicles the journey to recreate the Saladin minbar and its final restoration in the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, as well as how the consequences of a tragic event have come to symbolise the renaissance of Islamic art around the world.
With HRH The Prince of Wales (now HM King Charles III), HRH Prince Ghazi, Sir Christopher Frayling, Dr Khaled Azzam, Professor Keith Critchlow and Dr Minwer al-Meheid.
The film would not have been possible without the generous support of the King Abdullah II Foundation and Mohammed Jameel KBE, founder and chairman of Community Jameel.
The film is made available to Community Jameel by kind permission of the owners, The Prince’s Charities / The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund / The Prince’s Foundation.
Written by Lynette Singer.
Executive produced by Sir Tom Shebbeare.
Produced by André Singer.
Produced by West Park Pictures in association with The Prince's Charities Events Limited.
Released by DCD Classics, part of DCD Media plc.