Assalamualaikum, and may peace be upon you!
Islam Awareness Week, or IAW is an annual event under the NUS Muslim Society which aims to introduce the fundamental concepts of Islam to non-Muslims as well as to promote a deeper understanding of the Islamic faith and share the beauty and spirituality of the religion with the NUS community.
The aims of IAW 2014 are to present the worldview of Islam as it has been consciously lived and experienced by Muslims in history, the transformative effect the religion has on human beings and the civilization that was born out of the religion. This year, Islam Awareness Week was held for the whole month of February with the theme being The Alchemy of Happiness, inspired by the writings of Al-Ghazali. IAW consisted of an exhibition week, from 3rd to 7th February, the Dawn to Dusk event on the 20th February and lastly the lectures week from 13th to 21st February which culminated into the closing ceremony on the 21st of February.
The exhibition was held on the first week of IAW, and it was inaugurally held at UTown. This location was finally secured amidst the many obstacles we faced with regards to booking a venue for the exhibition. However, we believe that Allah was waiting to give us just the perfect location. Positioned right at the entrance of UTown, the area not only gave a conducive and open space to conduct the exhibition, but garnered a huge crowd of curious onlookers and interested students because of its central location. We were also blessed to have pleasant weather conditions for the entire duration of the exhibition.
For this year, our posters were based upon compilations of various Islamic resources by the programs team. The posters revolved around four general themes, embracing the fundamental concepts of Islam.
Participants were first welcomed by the section on “Worldview Matters”, which talks about the perception of God and essence of religion.
Next the concept of “Oneness of God” was introduced.
An exhibition about Islam without mentioning of “Our Prophet”, Muhammad pbuh will never be complete. Hence in the light of global misperception of the greatest and influential man on earth, we highlighted his Sunnah, particularly focusing on his beautiful “Akhlaq”.
We also were fortunate to have volunteers as exhibition guides for the event. The guides assisted visitors in walking through the exhibition and also in clarification of the visitors’ queries. We could not have put on a successful exhibition without the help of them.
It was not an easy task to approach and invite students to visit the exhibition, what more to field questions that may be basic and repetitive but sometimes crude and deep with misinterpretation to the point that it caught some of them off guard. To prepare them mentally, we enlisted the help of Dr. Rafi to help us with the guides’ preparation, in a pre exhibition training session. We would like to thank Dr. Rafi and the volunteer guides for their relentless effort in making IAW 2014 a success.
One of the main highlights for this year’s IAW is the live azan that was recited by our fellow Muslim brothers. Standing in the middle of a walkway, the recitee bravely made the call to prayer that touched our hearts and hopefully others who heard it as well. Apparently due to the powerful voices of our muazzins, the call to prayer can be heard all the way from Starbucks (: We could not thank our muazzins enough for being a cool sport and having the courage to recite the azan in front of such a large crowd and space.
The exhibition also included certain booths which further explained some of the aspect in Islam. A Quran booth was set up, where visitors could browse through several translations of the Quran in different languages. We also received requests from some visitors for copies of the Quran in different translation such as Chinese and French.
In order to encourage our visitors to practise the sunnahs of our beloved Prophet, we had our very own photo booth to capture the Sunnah moments. Through this booth, we hope everyone can learn and consciously practice various sunnahs of the Prophet. Below, we have one sister who gamely posed with a whie robe – to practice the sunnah of wearing white!
In line with our theme: The Alchemy of Happiness, visitors were encouraged to write what makes them happy on a note to share it with everybody! The notes were hung around the exhibition and further created a vibrant atmosphere of the exhibition.
And of course, food makes one happy!
We surely did not miss out on that. A halal food booth was set up where visitors were welcome to sample iconic food in Islam, such as dates, halwa, figs and honey , provided by Makkah International, to enjoy while reading the information panels.
To supplement the exhibition, we also had several merchandise booths which provided goods from several external vendors. These included such as clothing from Nushee Nurra, books, and calligraphy from Haz Works Islamic Art.
It was an enjoyable and rewarding five days of exhibition for the organizers and volunteers. We were able to meet Muslims and non-Muslims, and conduct discussions that improve each other’s knowledge about Islam.
As part of promoting the Five Pillars of Islam, on the 20th of February, we organized Dawn to Dusk, a fasting challenge to invite our non-Muslim friends to observe fasting the way Muslims do for a day. Throughout the day, we constantly checked on the welfare of our participants to ensure that they were doing well so far. We then had a mass breaking fast session together at YIH Plaza.
We sat in groups, sharing our experiences while munching over large trays of nasi briyani. We also had some of the participants to share their experiences with us.
Participants who were able to complete the challenge were rewarded with a badge to commemorate their experience in fasting!
Up next was the lectures week from 13th to 21st of February in which a series of 4 lectures was conducted: starting with Consciousness, Creativity and Civilization in Islam by Prof. Ali Allawi, Religion in the Modern World: A Muslim’s Perspective by Hannan Hassan, Shari’ah: Understanding the Law and its Ethics by A/P Dr. Arif Jamal Hassan and lastly, Freedom and Fulfillment: The Meaning and Experience of Happiness in Islam by Dr. Suleiman Hussein Boavo.
Our guest performers, Naseemul Alhan commenced the event with a lovely performance. We would like to thank them for taking their time off to perform for our event.
Most importantly, this ceremony was held to specially thank our volunteers and everyone who had helped us in one way or another throughout our whole journey. Tokens of appreciation were given out for all their hard work and support.
Alhamdulillah, IAW 2014 was a success! Once again, we would like to thank our volunteers and everyone else for making this event a success! See you guys next year. Illal liqaa’