Showcasing Islam through art

Deepansha Banswal reports on a recent Islamic art exhibition in Dublin.

The Islamic Cultural Centre (ICC) of Ireland recently organised an exhibition to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The exhibition promoted many forms of Islamic and Arabian art.

The centre was opened in the year 1996. With its mission, “Invite all to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching,” the ICC aims to serve all Dublin Muslims and invites others to teach them about their religion. Its vision is to preserve Islamic identity in Ireland, in order to make it easy for Muslims to fulfil their duties, and to introduce Islam and its cultural values to others.

The art exhibition showcased Haji Noor Deen, the Islamic calligraphy of China and Salah El Moussawi, which is Islamic calligraphy from France. Calligraphers from both countries were present during the exhibition displaying their artworks.

While one of the artworks featured 99 names of God written in different styles, another showcased Chinese and was made using pens made of feathers. Other artworks also featured verses from the Holy Qur’an.

Two Moroccan craftsmen were also present at the exhibition demonstrating their skills. While one was carving out beautiful artwork on a wood panel, the other was working on a copper plate using big steel needles. The two craftsmen were carving out scriptures in the shapes of flowers and artistic circles.

The exhibition also had a Qur’anic school corner showcasing the history of the school, which was started in 1998. When the school was opened, it had only 50 students enrolled in it and now it has around 850 children studying in it.

“People see a bad image of Islam but we are trying to show them a brighter image of it”

Dr Ali Selim of the ICC, who is also a lecturer at Trinity College Dublin, elaborated on the exhibition and on the history of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland. He said that the centre was built to look after the Muslim community in Ireland and also mentioned that two-thirds of the Muslim community present in Ireland consist of Irish people.

He added that the idea behind the exhibition was to show people aspects of Islamic culture. Dr Selim remarked that as art is very important in Ireland that was the reason why they were trying to portray Islam through art. He said: “People see a bad image of Islam but we are trying to show them a brighter image of it.”

He also stated that Ireland is a great place for Muslims because of the similarities Irish people and Muslims share. “Many Muslims came to Ireland from occupied countries and this country was also ruled by another country once. Muslims can become friends with others very quickly and Irish people are very friendly as well. Ireland is also not involved in fighting any Muslim country. So, these are some of the reasons why Ireland is a good place for Muslims to be at.”

Amilah Ali, one of the team members present at the exhibition, explained the five pillars of Islam in detail and also about the Shahadah, which is the declaration of belief in the oneness of God. She also spoke about the five daily prayers that are compulsory for a Muslim. The prayers are named as Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha.

The ICC also holds many other events throughout the year, such as the annual Multicultural Day, in which different communities participate to show their cultures, and the Food Fair.

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