FRIDAY REVIEW

Colours of faith

DEVOTIONAL Samples of calligraphy exhibited at IGNCA.  

RANA SIDDIQUI

A three-day discussion on the expression of devotion in Islam.

Two years ago, the Embassy of Iran hosted an interesting art and craft exhibition of Islamic art. Many calligraphers from Iran, West Asia East and India participated. If Urdu and Arabic calligraphy made on velvet cloth made their presence felt, some Indian unsung but talented calligraphers transformed wood with beautiful `ayats' from the Holy Quran through calligraphy. They called it calligraphy on wood. Since then, Delhi has hardly seen a similar event.But just recently Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts revived such memory by organising a seminar complementing with an art exhibition on "Aqeedat Ke Rang: Expressions of Devotion in Islam". While the exhibition displayed various forms of calligraphy and photographs of various Imambaras, the prelude to seminar through various presentations as Quranic recitations from Tamil Nadu to Kashmir, devotional qawwalis and dargah songs set the perfect ambience.

Kept out

In the seminar Professor Akhtarul Wasey, Head of the Department of Islamic Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia University, wondered why the creative expressions of the devotion in Islam were kept out of intellectual discussions. He said that expression of devotion through poetry, music and painting is inevitable but unfortunately the discussions these days are far removed from the essence of the religion.

"God's gift"

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan who inaugurated the programme justified his association with music, underlining the fact that it is the gift of God. Otherwise the general notion is that music is prohibited in Islam. The noted academic Khwaja Nizami discussed how Bhakti movement in India had rendered a cover to devotion. He also said the popular media like TV and cinema, the serials like Ramayana and Mahabharata, and various regional religious channels have promoted devotion in India.