بِسْمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحْمٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
In the name of Allah , Most Gracious, Most Merciful
ISLAM AWARENESS SERIES 2015
Aiming to let the NUS community know and learn more about Islam, the first two weeks of February 2015 were filled with an exciting line-up of events as part of Islam Awareness Series 2015, in short, IAS 2015. Our theme this year, is ‘Unveiling Beauty, Unraveling Islam’ where we hope to share the beauty of Islam within the NUS community, through a deepened and widened understanding of this religion.
This year, we are pleased to be given the opportunity to collaborate with very talented individuals from Creative Muslim Youth Kakis (CMYK), PATHS, and Bare Nusessities, who have made our journey as a 20-men committee in IAS 2015 a much more rewarding one. Throughout this short journey of 3 months including preparation and execution, we aim to bridge open, heartfelt connections; renew laymen perception; and build common ground. Kicking start the event with an exhibition, followed by a series of seminars, all praises to God, we managed to incorporate in them the common doubts or perceptions that we found among the students in NUS based on early groundwork inquiries. If you would like to know more about IAS 2015, feel free to scroll down and read on to find out what was in store earlier this February!
IAS Exhibition @ Science and Utown
2nd to 4th February 2015 and 9th to 11th February 2015
The main part and highlight of Islam Awareness Series 2015 was the exhibitions held at Science and Utown. We spent three days a week for two weeks, sharing about Islam to NUS students on the ground. The exhibition posters addressed a wide range of current, commonly asked topics, ranging from Women in Islam to Jihad most fundamentally, the pillars of Islam.
Upon entering the exhibition, visitors were greeted with a free cup of dadeh (pudding) for them to savour. Our friendly exhibition guides accompanied them as they walked through the booths, ready to clarify their doubts and answer any questions they had regarding the posters or Islam in general. Annotated qurans were available for visitors to look up verses cited in the posters. A video station was set up, showcasing videos covering the basics of Islam. Upon completing a short quiz based on the exhibition posters, visitors were given a goodie bag that contained treats, Vizier Magazine and notably, a free Quran courtesy of Suhaim Enterprise.
Apart from the posters, the exhibition also had other booths for visitors to explore. Our collaborator, PATHS, also had their own inter-faith booth set up alongside ours. Book lovers could peruse through our collection of Islamic books and free Qurans we had at our mini library (and even take home some of them, if they liked them!). Our exhibition at Science even had a mat spread out with cushions to provide comfortable reading and discussion area. Besides that, visitors could also purchase various accessories, stationery and books at our marketing booth, as well as get personalized calligraphy done by Haz Works and em.arewhy on various days of the week.
Among the booths at the exhibition was a “Share your Jihad” booth that was being set up alongside the Jihad exhibition posters. Jihad is an endeavour for self-betterment, striving against oneself whilst struggling in the path of God. The greater form of jihad is in fact the internal spiritual struggle within oneself. This concept, however, has developed a negative connotation through its repeated usage in the media. In a bid to renew laymen’s perception about Jihad by emphasizing on the greater form of jihad, visitors were encouraged to write down what their personal jihad was on a post-it and hang it up on a board. It was heartening to note the various entries, ranging from “biochemistry lectures” to “being a good student.”
Overall, the exhibitions set the stage for many meaningful and insightful conversations between people of different faiths, allowing us to appreciate our commonalities and respecting our differences.
IAS 1st Seminar | Transcendent Origin of Scientific Knowledge and Divine Revelation
6th February 2015
The first seminar sought to prove the existence of God through scientific justification. A huge crowd turned up at LT52 of Utown that night. For the first time, a pre-talk was held before the actual seminar, in which audience members were split into groups and urged to ponder about the relationship between Science and Religion over dinner. During the seminar, Dr Rafi Rashid eloquently reconciled the two and eventually answered the question of God’s existence through rigorous scientific method and reasoning, with a touch of quantum physics. At the end of it, we were blown away by the scientific evidences that could be conjured to prove God’s existence.
IAS 2nd Seminar | Unraveling Purpose: A Look into Islam’s Sacred Law
10th February 2015
‘Why does Islam have so many rules that its followers have to abide to?’ ‘What is Islamic Law?’ It was found that quite a number among ourselves question a lot about the rules and regulations that is clearly portrayed in Muslims’ practices. We believe that to understand such practices beyond its face-value and to renew laymen’s perception, it was important to comprehend the core meaning of Islam’s sacred law and its ethical principles. Debunking the arduous laws in Islam as perceived by many, our invited speaker, Ustaz Saif-ur-Rahman explained how our lack of understanding, and our failure to see the big picture led us to have a notion as such. Known for his outgoing personality, Ustaz Saif-ur-Rahman did not fail to engage the audience in an informative session where he then introduced the sources of Islamic Law, and presented misconceptions regarding Islam – arisen from myopic views, in a different light.
IAS 3rd Seminar | Family Without Borders & Closing Ceremony
13th February 2015
The two weeks of exhibitions and seminars culminated in the third seminar, Family Without Borders, held on a Friday evening.
Most of the IAS committee and participants of the Fasting Challenge, some even non-Muslims, fasted that day according to their ability. People of any race or religion were invited to fast with us, in solidarity of those who were hungry and poor. It was also a chance for those who were curious about fasting to give it a try. After all, experience is the best teacher. Participants who were non-Muslims were given the chance to experience fasting in stages and at ‘different levels’ of difficulty. The first being no eating, the second being no drinking in addition to level one; the third to abstain from gossiping/swearing/lying in addition to level two; and the fourth being to also abstain from anger, lust and jealousy in addition to level three. Participants were also given a fast aid kit, containing information sheets about fasting, to equip them with some background knowledge of the Islamic practice. We also included dates, honey sticks and a drink, some of the Prophet’s (pbuh) favourite treats that are also proved to be good sources of energy.
The event started off with a talk by Dr Norhisham regarding the medical benefits of fasting. Upon the Maghrib prayer call, participants broke their fast in the way of the Prophet (pbuh) with milk and dates. We also ate in congregation, with four people sharing one large tray of nasi ambeng (rice with several side dishes). While eating, participants shared their fasting experience with each other. The participants who experienced fasting for the first time that day felt accomplished and satisfied upon breaking their fasts.
After completion of Maghrib prayers, the second talk by Mr Hassan Ahmad commenced. He was the formerly the CEO of Mercy Relief for 10 years. Drawing on his wealth of experiences of managing myriad of crisis in areas traumatised by natural disasters and wars, he shared about the ways and value of community service.
After the very insightful session with Dr Noor Hisham and Mr Hassan Ahmad, the closing ceremony commenced leaving us in tears as we watched the video montage of our journey throughout IAS. It has truly been a wonderful and fruitful experience for the team, picking up beneficial lessons and experiences. “Allah will exalt those who believe among you, and those who have been granted knowledge to high ranks.”
The IAS 2015 committee truly hopes that the entire event has benefited and will continue to benefit you in someway or another in widening and deepening your understanding of Islam through our exhibition and seminars.We would like to express our gratitude again to our collaborators and of course our wonderful volunteers for all the contributions in IAS 2015. IAS 2015 will not be possible without them!, For more information and pictures on the event, please visit our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/nusislamawareness and instagram at https://instagram.com/ias2015/
Signing off with lots of love,
The IAS 2015 Committee