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Islamic Art Extends Bridges in Utah

Published: 24/02/2012 05:19:01 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Extending bridges between different cultures, Islamic art from around the world has been exhibited in Brigham Young University's Museum of Art, (more)

CAIRO - Extending bridges between different cultures, Islamic art from around the world has been exhibited in Brigham Young University's Museum of Art, offering visitors a walk through the centuries-old art and culture of Islam.  

“When you are trying to cross bridges, these bridges really need to be crossed between people who are different, but who also have a lot to share,” project director Sabiha Al Khemir, told Desert News on Thursday, February 23.  

Titled “Beauty and Belief: Crossing Bridges with the Arts of Islamic Culture," the exhibit opened February 14 and runs through Sept. 29.

Defining Islamic faith, culture and creativity, the exhibition offered its visitors a step back in time to walk through the art and culture of Islam.

At BYU University, the exhibit stretches over 16,000 square feet.

It gathers works from the seventh century, from 10 nations and more than 40 private donors have been brought together to create an atmosphere of "Beauty and Belief."

Visitors pass from one area of the exhibit to another through arches or bridges.

Each room has different colors, signifying different ideas, like light, which leads to knowledge.

It features masterworks from the al-Sabah Collection at Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyya in Kuwait, unique manuscripts from the Royal Library in Morocco and works from collections across the United States.

“When we have an occasion, we can bring people together, so we can understand each other and we are in one world, and we live together and this friendship is very important," said His Excellency Mohamed Rachad Bouhlal, Moroccan ambassador to the US.  

Showcasing art from around the world, the exhibit organizers aimed at understanding Islamic culture.

“We have the opportunity to come to understand another culture — one that, like Mormons, have been misunderstood in the United States of America,” explained Stephen Jones, dean of the BYU College of Fine Arts.

Connecting Religions

Utah's Muslim community welcomed the exhibition idea as connecting world's religions and people.

“We want peace, harmony, love and prosperity and good health, good neighbors,” Tarek Nossier, a board member of the Islamic Society of Great Salt Lake, told Desert News.

He added that such interaction with one another opens mind and heart to other cultures.

“I think that's really what walking underneath arches and bridges (in the exhibit) is truly all about.”

The exhibit is not the first by BYU University, known for its Islamic translation series and for teaching Arabic.

It is part of a bigger wave, which is the groundwork that BYU has done in the field of Islamic texts, Al Khemir said.

Last December, a similar exhibition was hosted by Utah Mormons to celebrate the Islamic culture and show how religious beliefs can parallel each other.

"Here's a community who is very much into its faith, its own way of living and its own way of interpreting the world, but yet is prepared to look at a different way of seeing the world and to embrace with acceptance a different way of seeing the world," Al Khemir said.

The United States is home to an estimated Muslim minority of nearly eight million.

Reproduced with permission from