StepEurope ry booked a guided tour in English and visited the inspiring exhibition “Numur -Islam and I” together with the youth on 14th of March. The exhibition, was on display at the Migration Institute of Finland between February 28th‒March 20th. It is part of a project “Young Muslims and resilience” at the Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, led by Docent Marja Tiilikainen. The opportunity was given to young people of Muslim descent to project their relationship to their religious and cultural roots.
The exhibition aims to give a better understanding of how the individuals of Islamic origin may peer at their relation to Islam through the lens of art. The participants have utilized tools of the contemporary arts to paint up their ideas. Arrays of photos clung on the walls aside the calligraphic portraits scripted in Arabic. These are first items what would capture one’s gaze, once you visit the exhibition, in addition to the Sufi Masa, spinning in the middle of the room. Muttaqi Khan is one of the artists who lives in Helsinki, and who took several photos of “his Helsinki”. His photos emerge the way he sees this Northern city from a personal view as an individual of Muslim background. Muttaqi, the son of an Imam, was born in Jyvaskyla. He belongs to a conservative family, and he says that whenever he visits his country of origin, Bangladesh, he feels that his home is Helsinki. This denotes vividly that Muslims who grow up in a Western environment interact with elements of their environment on a completely personal level.
Islam is a personal view and a cultural past.
The exhibition materializes how Islam is being shown from various personal views of each artist ‒ how they associate with Islam and what kind of relationship ties them to it, and it also pops up in the relationship between them and the society they are living in. For example, being a Muslim did not barrier Sara Salmani to create her own videos alongside her husband and their newborn child: enjoying and balancing life as a successful Muslim woman and mother seemed to be the theme of her contribution in the exhibition. Sara’s video is an intimate account of her life during the first year of her small baby girl. She shows great affection to her beautiful child, and is keen to record the moments of her life as a happy Muslim family in Finland. Moreover, she discusses the role of Islam in her life as a woman, entrepreneur and a mother.
Many guided tours were arranged during the exhibition to enable visitors to learn more about the background of the artwork and ask questions. Several school classes attended the exhibition as part of different courses, and they seemed to be curious to explore new cultures, religions and ways of thinking. This experience would give anyone a better understanding concerning the Muslim community living in Finland, which is a growing religious minority the country. Some art work represented a bold initiative in challenging and providing a new reading of Islamic concepts and interpretations. In addition, the concept of homeland(s) in relation to multiple identities was explored.
Pictures: Ahmed Zaidan