Throwing Light on Islamic Culture: Sharjah Lights Festival

Al Noor Mosque

Light creates exquisite patterns and designs on the otherwise plain walls and domes of Al-Noor-Masjid in Sharjah, UAE.

NINE nights a year the emirate of Sharjah in the UAE is transformed by an enthralling symphony of lights, colours and images, which is otherwise called the Sharjah Light Festival (SLF).

This year 10 designers and artists from Europe, Asia and Africa took part in the design process, which fell under the theme “Sharjah, the Capital of Islamic Culture”, for 2014.

All events that Sharjah hosts this year will be under same theme.

The SLF put into focus Sharjah’s most prominent mosques, buildings, and landmarks by featuring colourful light shows that offer a glimpse of Muslim culture and heritage.

More with picture gallery in our May 2014 Issue

The Success We So Desperately Seek

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UMAR Bin Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) was on his way to take over Jerusalem from the Romans. They insisted that they would hand over the keys of the city only to the leader of Muslims, whose power and might was well-known.

His journey was special. He would take turns with his slave to ride the camel. If for some distance he rode and the slave walked pulling the camel, then for the next equal distance the slave would ride and Umar would walk, pulling the camel. Jerusalem was near, the city’s gates were almost in sight, and it was the slave’s turn to ride the camel. While Umar walked, he passed through a pool of mud, so his clothes got soiled.

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Spotting the Stars

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MOST people who read Islamic literature or listen to live lectures or tapes have at least a nodding acquaintance with the much-quoted author and scholar, best known by his nickname – Ibn Al-Qayyim, ‘the principal’s son’ – Shams Ad-Deen Muhammad Ibn Abi Bakr.

Born in 1292 CE in Al-Zur’i, a small village in the suburbs of Damascus, he acquired his famous agnomen because his father was the principal of Madrasah Al-Jawziyyah, a centre devoted to the study of Hanbali fiqh in Damascus. Ibn Al-Qayyim completed his elementary education under the guidance of his father at this seminary, before joining the circles of some of the more eclectic teachers in Damascus.

What is not so well known though, is that this Madrasah Al-Jawziyyah got its name from another legendary Muslim scholar: Abul Faraj Ibn Al-Jawzi. Ibn Al-Jawzi was a jurist, traditionist, historian, preacher, whose ancestry goes back to the first Caliph, Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him.

Orphaned at the age of three, Ibn Al-Jawzi was an extraordinary child prodigy, who began learning the Qur’an and Prophetic traditions (Hadith) at the age of six under the tutelage of his paternal uncle. He studied with more than 90 teachers (three of them women) and gave his first public lecture to an audience of 50,000 people at the age of 10!

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Is Shariah Law Only About Punishments?

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SHARIAH (Shari’ah, Sharia, Arabic شريعة) literally means a “path to the water hole” i.e. the way to the source of life. Its usage as law is traced directly to the Qur'an, wherein Allah (God) admonishes us to follow the clear and right way, the path of the Shariah:

Then We have put you (O Muhammad, صلىاللهعليهوسلم) on the Way of Religion (Shariah). So follow you that and follow not the desires of those who know not. (Qur’an, 45:18)

The Shariah is therefore the entire religion of Islam, a whole way of life, that Muslims believe has been ordained by God Almighty. They submit to it and follow it in obedience based on faith (which by the way is not blind).

Its key principle is "preventing harm and bringing welfare to people".[i] It protects and defends five basic human rights it has identified: Life, property, honor, religion and intellect. The penal system in Islam, which we will look at in our future issues, is absolutely vital in guaranteeing these fundamental rights.

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