India: Living Islam Exhibition Drawing Large crowd
Syed Ali Mujtaba
Chennai: In order to create awareness and education about Islam, “Peace – Vision of Islam 2010,” a five day Islamic exhibition cum conference opened up here on January 13, 2010.
The event is a regular feature in the city from last several years and coincides with the harvest festival ‘Pongal,’ when there is long and extended holidays. People of all faiths flock to this event and over 4 lakh visitors so far have benefited from the previous events.
The event promises to provide an exciting window of knowledge to explore, discover and understand the true message of Islam. The exhibition showcases the rich culture and heritage of Islam. There are beautiful big charts that display the holy Quranic verses and Ahadees (sayings of Prophet Mohammed) with their translations in Urdu, Tamil and English. The volunteers explain the subjects of the displayed Quranic verses and Ahaadees in their proper perspective.
One exhibit said: "O people! Behold, we have created you from a male and a female and have made you into nations and tribes so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is all-knowing, all-aware." [Qur'an 49:13]
The exhibition has specially designed stalls exclusively devoted to several aspects of Islam. Islamic Banks, Islamic book, Halal Food Products, Educational Islamic Audio-Video CDs, Health Products, Hajj and Umrah Organizers, Islamic Da’wah Centre, Garments: Hijab, Abaya, Caps, etc. are some of the exhibits at the venue.
Some other activities going on at the venue are: seminars, workshops, inter-faith dialogue, matrimonial services, distribution of Qur’an and Islamic literature etc.
Many schools and colleges have also setup stalls where inter-school and inter-college competitions, career guidance and counseling are being done. There are also food courts where food stalls sell different vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.
People from all walks of life were visiting the exhibition and showing keem interest in all the activities going on there. I asked one of the visitors what he felt about being there; "let’s consider this as a good experience,” he said.
Another reaction was, “This event offers a unique interactive opportunity to learn about Islam from the original sources” said Vasudevan, a bank employ visiting the exhibition with his family.
One of the important features of the event is the public lecture delivered by eminent Islamic speakers on various subjects. The lectures are held in English, Tamil, Urdu and Malayalam. Some of the eminent speakers this year are; Dr Zakir Naik, Abu Usaamah At Thahabi, Assim Al Hakkem, Saeed Rageah, Hussain Yee, Fariq Naik and others.
“Peace – Vision of Islam is a humble effort to spread the true message of Islam” says Syed Zakir Ahmed, the brain behind this concept, and owner of Zak Trade Fairs & Exhibitions Private Limited (www.zakgroup.com)
"Every one may agree that Islam is one of the most misunderstood religions in the world today. There exist deep rooted prejudices against this faith, but without going into the reasons for it, there is an urgent need to work towards changing this misplaced concept,” Zakir said.
“Many international Ulema have endorsed this concept and its being replicated in other cities like Bangalore, Calicut and Mumbai” he added.
'The Vision of Islam 2010’ even though this time is being organized at Injmbakam on East Coast Road, that’s bit far away from the city, it has been successful in attracting people interested in exploring the intricacies of divergent faith.
The event no doubt is a bold attempt to showcase what it stands for and the patronage from the people tells the story that the vision of secular and democratic India is still alive and kicking.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org