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Published in the 16-29 Feb 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

‘Islam is beyond rituals’
By Muqith Mujtaba Ali 

Chennai: Splendidly organised, it was a mega event indeed. Visitors’ curiosity knew no bounds. The organisers were taken aback with the phenomenal response. All the world seemed to be present there. It was the manifestation of peace, pure and simple!

History was made in Chennai between 9 to 19 January 2004 when the state-of-the-art exhibition on the theme “Peace: Vision of Islam” was held. It was the first international exhibition on Islam for Harmony, Awareness and Education, which created enthusiasm among the Chennaites.

After the motivating Islamic Cultural Exhibition organised by Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Chennai way back in 2000, the event of this year that drew over a lakh visitors was jointly organised by Syed Zakir Ahmed of ZAK International Trade Fairs and Event Managers in association with the Islamic Foundation Trust (IFT), the Ibnul Qayyim Islamic Research and Guidance Centre, Indian Islamic Mission, Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), At-tarbiyah and Islamic Voice.
The Festival for Harmony had different dimensions with Islamic Exhibition being the focus of attention: Seminar, Conference, Talk Show, Workshop, Qira'at Competition and Women’s Programme. 

The exhibition had Ten Pavilions: Message of Islam comprising of the Qur’an, the Hadith and the fundamental beliefs; Guidelines of Islam comprising of Personal and Family life, Social life, State Administration and State Economy; Women in Islam; Prophets of Islam; The Last & Final Prophet; Companions of the Prophet (pbuh); History of Islam; Contribution of Muslim scholars; Islamic Civilization; and What they say about Islam.

The exhibition sent a message that Islam, which stands for peace and harmony, is beyond rituals. As the Prophet (pbuh) rightly said “Laisa Khabru Kal Mu’ayana” (there is no report like witnessing it by yourself), this wonderful event gave Muslims and non-Muslims a rare opportunity to literally witness the manifestation of peace. Eye-catching models were an added attraction of an exhibition that blended the state-of-the-art technology and the Islamic principles of exhibition organisation.

Apart from books, CDs, cassettes, state-of-the-art panels, wall hangings, rare manuscripts such as letters of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to different foreign rulers of his time were exhibited. F Abdul Azeez’s novel way of explaining Qur'anic stories through the medium of stamps and his artistic Arabic calligraphy were attractive and interesting. Different translations and types of the Qur'an, the copies of Qur'an written in Othamanic style, the Surah Fatihah knitted in 1,84,464 beads that took Mr. Habibur Rahman of Chennai six years to make — these were displayed in a stunning manner.

Models such as that of a building standing straight and a building falling down drawing parallel between a Strong, true Believer and a weak Believer; a Cradle and Grave giving the message that life is not permanent; Spider’s web explaining the futility of the worship of false gods; and many more – these models made a lasting impression on the minds of the visitors. The explanation given by the volunteers helped people understand concepts in a better way. The participation of Juma Al Majid Centre for Culture and Heritage, Dubai, added content and glamour to the whole show.

While the chief guest of the inaugural session was Mr. Richard Haynes of the American Consulate, the concluding session’s Guest of Honour was Maulana Syed Rabey Hasani Nadwi, the President of All India Muslim Personal Law Board and the Rector of Nadwatul Uloom, Lucknow. Maulana Nadwi appreciated the exhibition and gave an open call to the global Muslims to utilise mass media and information technology for the propagation of Islam and for removing misconceptions about Islam and Muslims. Islam, which is a Divine source of peace is a practical code of life for the entire humanity, the Maulana said.

The 11-day event had a wide range of speakers including Yassir Fazaga, USA, Abu Aaliyah, Prof. Ataullah Siddiqui and Abdur Raheem Green of UK, Tahir Baig, Malaysia, Maulana Abdul Aziz, Hyderabad, Dr KVS Habeeb Muhammad, Chennai, Qari Maulana Muhammad Qasim Ansari, Chennai, Hussain Az-Zahrani, Saudi Arabia, spoke on various topics highlighting the relevance and role of Islam in 21st century. The star speaker was Dr. Zakir Naik who spoke on the unusual topic ‘Similarities between Hinduism and Islam’.
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