This past weekend I attended the Islamic and Cultural Exhibition at the Kilburnie Islamic Center right here in Wellington. It was an incredible experience. They had informative posters, which frankly blew my mind. Dunedin being a smaller city, does not receive the same perks as Wellington and Auckland, or even Christchurch. Over the past few years, we’ve had to make do with the same old posters, and while I’m being honest let me just say, I think we’ve all grown sick of them. They don’t do the Dunedin Muslim community any justice, and are in desperate need of a complete overhaul.
At the exhibition, they also had a book sale, and being the nerd I am, my eyes feasted on the stacks of books that were laid on the tables. I was taken aback by the many titles, authors and the varying subjects they covered. At that moment (or rather the 30 minutes I spent browsing) I wished I could take home one of each, and indulge in one each week. Wish being the imperative term here.
While my cousin was still interested, I thought we’d continue our tour of the exhibition. I was totally impressed with the effort which had gone into organizing it. We looked around some more, saw some impressive pieces of art by various artists from around the world (namely Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and some from Australia and New Zealand). Some of the paintings were for sale, and then again I wished I could take at least one of them, but even the smallest piece of work was as expensive as my weekly rent. Also, they had a wall covered with the work of Haji Noor Deen. He mainly does Chinese inspired Arabic calligraphy. I admit, it took me a while to read his paintings, but they were stunning, and would have hung nicely in any home.
Hidden in a corner of the women’s prayer hall we found a table attended by a sister, and a poster hung on the wall above announcing HENNA HAND PAINTING. I got ecstatic and rushed my cousins over, and pressured them into getting a simple design on the upside of one hand. I would have gotten something on my hand too, except I hate it when it’s fading and turns into an orange-y colour, plus I had a funny incident with henna a couple of years ago (the design got printed on my face overnight) and if it weren’t for foundation, I would have looked like I’d scribbled on the right side of my face with a brown felt-pen. It took a week to get off.
The rest was your typical Muslim exhibition, hijab and accessorize stalls for the women, a kid’s section fitted with a bouncy castle, face painting and different games, and stalls on different countries showcasing their clothes, household items, pictures and information on each. And not to forget, they had food stalls, they sold: Moroccan, Somali, Middle Eastern, South East Asian and Indian foods. It was a feast fit for a king, and if I weren’t already full from breakfast, I definitely would have tried more than one food (I had the Za’ter; thyme from the ME table)
I loved this beautiful detailing on a small chest in one of the Mosque's rooms.
It was quite the exhibition, my cousins and I had a marvelous time. The Muslim community in Wellington is a very well organized and close-knit one, albeit the extra opportunities they have, they’re not very different from the Muslim community we have (and love) in Dunedin.
I really want to become a more active part of this community. Being the Ameera (female president) at Otago’s MSA last year taught me a lot, not just about the community but also about myself. I believe it helped me become a better person, and a better Muslimah. Through leading the women of Dunedin, I was able to overcome some my insecurities and fears. First and foremost, all thanks is due to Allah (SWT) for giving me the courage and enabling me to take on that big responsibility, and I also owe my family and friends and fellow committee members a huge thank you for their constant support and encouragement. I really could not have done it without the constant stream of love and support they gave me throughout the year. It is because of this I am eager and more-than-ready to take on whatever life hands me, and 100% prepared to engulf myself in the Muslim community of which I am a part of now.