The Peace-Vision of Islam Exhibition and Convention needs to be emulated in other cities too as it will open the doors to better understanding of Islam by people of other faiths.
Peace - Vision of Islam Exhibition/Conference spread over a ten-day period from 17th to 26th December, 2004 in Bangalore is an extremely honest and laudable effort on the part of the Peace Organizing Committee. One can sense a palpable urgency on the part of the organisers to ensure that this effort on their part is a success in every way. The exhibition is spread over a very large area, with a number of pavilions with each being dedicated to a display and audio-video presentation of specific facets of Islam. A pretty well versed team of volunteers is there in numbers to educate and explain to the visitors all that they want to know and even more. There are workshops and training programs for men and women and so on. The sheer size and volume of Islamic literature is very impressive in terms of diversity and availability of material on any chosen topic. Further there are diversely structured topics on which Islamic scholars presented talks. The most eminent among them being Dr. Zakir Naik, Hussain Ye from Malaysia, Dr. Jaafar Idris from Sudan, Abdul Majeed , Hussain Az-Zahrani and Yusuf Estes from the U.S.A.
The beauty of listening to Speakers of such eminence is their ability to shed light on that facet of Islam which was hitherto either unknown or if known, existed purely on the strength of faith and not logic. This is precisely what brother Estes, himself a revert to Islam from being a Christian preacher was able to bring out when he said that virtually all religions say and believe in one God but none except a Muslim does so because he not only has faith, but also scientific evidence of the existence of God. Dr. Naik had some very revealing things to say about the evidence of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) in the Hindu scriptures. Amazingly, he advocated the learning of Sanskrit by Hindus to enable them read and understand their Vedas that would make them see the similarities between Islam and Hinduism and which in turn could bring about a better understanding between the two great religions of the World. He also dealt with the concept of Tawheed (Uniqueness or Oneness of God) in a very logical manner and left no one in doubt as to why and how Allah subhana wa taa’la is one and only. Dr. Idrees dealt with the aspect concerning Sunna and Hadith and left none in doubt as to its relevance together with Quran in order to practice the religion in a manner that pleases Allah. Brother Hussain Ye, a Malaysian of Chinese descent who had himself reverted to Islam when he was 18 years of age had some extremely useful things to say. He came down heavily against some of the practices of Muslims today, which are so contrary to the true spirit of Islam. There is so much more that one can really go on and on.
I sincerely believe this is an effort that should be recognised for what it is. It is important that such exhibitions, seminars and symposiums become a regular feature so that they shed the aura of being an event by the Muslims for the Muslims. Rather they become so naturally open and accessible that no non-Muslim should feel awkward or uncomfortable walking in and inter-mingle with the people there. This will only happen if there is obvious and conspicuous presence of non-Muslims in the crowd. As it is, there was a sprinkling of non-Muslims in the crowd on virtually all the days but I believe there are still a whole lot more non-Muslims who would like to come to such events because they are genuinely interested in learning about the religion after what they might have read or observed of it in their day to day life, but in the absence of an obvious and easily accessible forum they remain deprived to whet their appetite for this knowledge. As for Muslims on their part, they are not able to approach a potentially inclined non-Muslim because they are themselves not too sure how the person concerned will receive their approach. I think this is where the common Muslim should be able to define his role. How it is that he can help? I believe he can help by being there to learn himself and at the same time contribute financially in such a way that such efforts do not become financially unviable for the organisers. It will also be useful to invite suggestions and ideas from both Muslims and Non-Muslims as to what more can be done. How best can such events be hosted and structured? As for the Organisers themselves, they will have to try very hard to absolutely ensure that this exercise of hosting such events is purely a Dawah (Presenting Islam to all) effort and is certainly not an effort for material gain. (The writer can reached at email@example.com)