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US Art Expo Explores Muslim Life

the Islamic Exhibit has been opened in the Student Union Art Gallery at UNC to introduce Islam in a creative way.

Source : OnIslam & Newspapers / 08 Nov 2013

Portraying Muslims daily life through the lens of art, students in a leading American university have inaugurated a multimedia expo about Islam, which will be running through November.

“Islam is a religion that can be interpreted in so many ways and through so many different passions,” Layla Quran, a junior student at the University of North Carolina (UNC) and co-organizer of the expo at Chapel Hill, told the Daily Tar Heel.

“There’s so much room for possibility — you can interpret it in a way that fits your lifestyle.”

Under the title "Passion in Practice", the Islamic Exhibit has been opened in the Student Union Art Gallery at UNC to introduce Islam in a creative way.

The gallery will showcase photographs of around 20 subjects in daily life situations for UNC students and Muslims engaging in what they are passionate about.

The photographs were taken by Aisha Anwar, a junior student and co-organizer of the exhibit.

“I love photography, and I also love my Islamic beliefs,” Anwar said.

“Using my photography skills to also better myself and connect that to my religion and embody Islam through it was something I was struggling with, and it may have driven the goal behind this project.”

The expo will also show short films containing interviews connecting passion with Islam.

“I think of Islam as a holistic thing. It makes me strive for the truth in all things that I pursue — boxing is a segment of that,”said Zaki Haidary, one of the gallery’s subjects.

“I think overall, the message of Islam is about self-betterment and striving to know the unknown. Those ideas can really carry over into boxing because it requires so much self-discipline and so much self-knowledge.”

Fresh Perspective

Organizers and participants in the exhibits aim to bring a 'fresh perspective' on Islam and its followers and defy stigmatization.

“(The exhibit) is a really powerful way to show that Muslims are people, too — not this stereotypical image,”said Haidary, who was raised by a Christian mom and a Muslim dad.

“It’s putting a face on the religion for students on campus — they have interests and passions, and they’re your neighbors.”

‘Passion in Practice’ will also try to prove that prayer isn’t the only way to worship Allah, students asserted.

“I wanted to depict Islam as an art form rather than the conventional idea of religion,”Anwar, the photographer, said.

“I wanted to know, as a college student, how to find a balance between being a ‘religious person’ and actively engaging in the environment around you.”

Showing Islam in real life, the exhibition welcomes non-Muslims to come and learn from it.

“Islam encourages cooperation and understanding of others,” Quran said.

“What are you going to do to be helpful? What role will you play in your club, your religion, your world?”

US Muslims are estimated between six to eight million.

A recent survey found that American Muslims are the most moderate around the world.

It showed that US Muslims generally express strong commitment to their faith and tend not to see an inherent conflict between being devout and living in a modern society.

An earlier Gallup poll found that the majority of Americans Muslims are loyal to their country and optimistic about their future in the United States.

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