The Birth of Light Exhibition: Showcasing the Life and Times of the Prophet (pbuh)Written by Mohamed Suleman
To celebrate the birth anniversary of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him - pbuh), Ottawa's Ajyal Al Mahdi group held a unique thee-day exhibition aimed at giving people a better understanding of Islam and its final prophet.
The Birth of Light exhibition, which was open to the public from Jan. 30 ”“ Feb. 1, 2014, documented the life of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) from his birth to his death through a series of scenes illustrated by life-sized models. The exhibition also included a real-life depiction of the Prophet's (pbuh) house along with other visual displays.
All guests were walked through the exhibits by a tour guide who would explain each display and answer any questions they had.
Along with recreating key historical incidents from the life of the Prophet (pbuh) like the Revelation (of the Qur'an and his Prophethood) and Me'raj (ascension to heaven), the exhibition also provided glimpses into stories that showcased the Prophet's (pbuh) outstanding moral traits.
“It's a challenge because you're trying to show people an entire lifetime and an entire religion,” said Rasha Zeinab, secretary of Ajyal AlMahdi and one of the exhibition's organizers.
“We wanted to recreate his life so when you walk through the exhibition, you see the history of his life ”“ things people are interested to know about.”
Ajyal Al Mahdi is a non-profit organization based in Ottawa that aims to get Muslim youths in the city together through events that are in line with the teachings of the Prophet (pbuh) and his progeny.
The group is open to all Muslims and holds weekly Qur'an and akhlaaq (moral conduct) classes for younger children. They have previously organized and performed plays depicting incidents in Islamic history, and have also carried out two similar exhibitions, one in Ottawa and the other in Montreal, both on the events surrounding the tragic death of Hussain (pbuh), his companions and his family in the battle of Karbala.
Zeinab explained that the reaction from the community to this exhibition has been very positive, and that non-Muslims as well as Muslims benefited from it.
“The reaction has been awesome. We've had people coming in who are not Muslim and the children absolutely love it; they walk out, and they understand their Prophet better,” she said.
“We have rabbis and priests who have visited us and they found just how similar we are to each other - no one comes in here without learning at least one new thing.”
For Betty Ann Grainger, a retired religious studies teacher for the Ottawa Catholic School Board, the exhibition gave her an idea of what it might have been like to actually be around during the Prophet's (pbuh) time.
“With the costumes and the scenery it really gives you a sense as if you're in Mecca or in Medina or you're in the Prophet's room ”“ it's very real,” she said.
“I think they've just done a marvelous job.”
Grainger said that educating people visually through exhibits like life-sized models is effective because it is something that is easily relatable, especially for young people.
“This generation is very visual and so for them to see it is much more meaningful for them, they get a better understanding,” she said.
“It's concrete, even for Muslim children who have been learning about all these things that happened in the history of their religion because now they can see it in front of them.”
Zeinab shared that besides the depiction of the Prophet's (pbuh) house, her favourite scenes in the exhibition were those that showed how the Prophet (pbuh) responded to people who had mistreated him.
“Those show that Islam was not spread through war or hatred, but that it was spread through love and care towards others and displaying this will let people love our religion ”“ this is the image that we want to show of the Prophet.”
The Birth of Light exhibition will be making its way across Canada in the not too distant future as Islamic centres in different cities have expressed interest in hostig this very same display in their cities.
“We have officially become a moving exhibition ”“ next year we have already been asked to visit Montreal, Toronto, and Windsor and bring this exhibition there,” said Zeinab.
To learn more about the Ajyal Al Madhi Group visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ajyal-Almahdi-Youth/1425284111024742
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