As part of Islamic Awareness Week, the Muslim Student Association hosted an Islamic Art Exhibition in the Thousand Oaks Room at the University Student Union on Wednesday.
The exhibit featured cultural and religious Islamic art provided by MSA members and their families, and ran from 11 a.m. to 4.p.m.
Taiba Kator Mulk of the MSA said that when people think of Islam, too often they think of Islamic fundamentalism, al-Qaida or terrorism.
She said that this art exhibit was another way to help change that negative image.
“We hope it will bring awareness to students that we have a culture,” she said.
Islamic art includes religious and cultural art from countries all over the world where the Islamic religion is practiced.
“Islam is a worldwide community,” said MSA secretary Aliya Choudhery.
She said the beauty of the exhibit is how each culture expresses its own interpretation of Islamic art.
Students brought items from India, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Classic Islamic art is known for its geometric designs and calligraphy, Kator Mulk said.
A characteristic of the religious art is that it does not depict humans or animals.
“There are a lot of flowers and natural designs,” Kator Mulk said.
Another major influence in Islamic art is the Quran.
Paintings, plaques and jewelry often have parts of the Quran written within the artwork. It is common to see these plaques hanging in homes.
Choudhery was able to bring in a copy of a painting that depicted the classic features of Islamic art.
The painting included two large red roses, each with Arabic writings within the artwork. Arabic is the original language of the Quran.
One rose had “Allah” written in the center, and was surrounded by 99 petals. Each petal had a name of Allah written on it, symbolizing the 99 names found in the Quran.
The other rose had the name of the prophet Muhammad written in the center, and was surrounded by the many names that Muhammad is referred to in the Quran.
The artist and age of the painting are not known.
The exhibit also displayed photographs of different Muslim mosques from all over the world, which were brought in by Choudhery.
One photograph was of an ancient mosque in China. It showed a mixture of Chinese and Islamic architecture.
Prayer rugs were also displayed as part of the religious artwork.
Kator Mulk said that the rugs are a clean place to kneel and pray. The rugs come in different colors and designs, and are very similar to Persian rugs.
There were a couple copies of the Quran placed on stands for display.
The stands show respect for the Holy Book, and are very common, said MSA member Maliha Jafri.
There was even a miniature copy of the Quran that included the actual text.
Another item on display was a sculpture of a mother, father and child, with a verse from the Quran that teaches children to respect their parents.
Other items on display included cultural jewelry, purses, and cultural women’s clothing.
Shawls from India and Pakistan were laid out on display.
There were also Indian and Pakistan shoes called Kussai that are worn on special occasions. The shoes are usually shiny in material and come in bright colors.
The event was another effort by the MSA to try and cater to everyone, Choudhery said.
It was originally meant to be a silent auction, but Associated Students was unable to fund the event.
A.S. has already funded many major events for MSA, and there wasn’t enough money for this one, Jafri said.
At the last minute, MSA members were asked to bring in items from home, and many were able to do so.
Kator Mulk said that her family owns a 1,000-year-old Quran that her grandfather brought from Afghanistan.
She said that many Muslim families own historical treasures and artwork passed down from generation to generation.
“It is important for people to know that just like every nation, the Islamic world is a civilization,” Kator Mulk said.