First ever Pak­istani / Is­lamic Art Ex­hi­bi­tion in Bri­tish Columbia

The Miracle - - Arts & Culture - By: Farooq Rai

For the first time in Bri­tish Columbia words like ‘Urdu’ and ‘Al­lama Iqbal’ echoed loudly in a renowned pub­lic gath­er­ing venue. Pak­istani literary her­itage was promi­nently ex­hib­ited in the im­pres­sive Up­per Ro­tunda of the Rich­mond Cul­tural Cen­tre. Scores of in­ter­ested dig­ni­taries and in­vited guests for the open­ing re­cep­tion and launch of the art ex­hi­bi­tion, had some dif­fi­culty with the word ‘Urdu’ and wanted to know how it is pro­nounced. Some ea­ger young­sters of Pak­istani ori­gin read­ily jumped in to help. Most were also un­fa­mil­iar with Dr. Al­lama Muham­mad Iqbal. Dur­ing the tour of the ex­hi­bi­tion they keenly read in (nglish about his brief bi­o­graph­i­cal sketch. An ex­plana­tory note also pro­vided in­for­ma­tion about Urdu and Pak­istan which was placed at the start of the ex­hi­bi­tion for pub­lic in­for­ma­tion. The on­look­ers spent time read­ing (nglish trans­la­tions of Al­lama’s po­etry and ap­pre­ci­ated the ap­peal­ing univer­sal mes­sage. Farooq M. Rai’s Peace & Har­mony Art (xhi­bi­tion was pre­sented by Rich­mond Art Gallery and Rich­mond World Fes­ti­val. The award win­ning Rich­mond World Fes­ti­val at­tracted thou­sands of vis­i­tors. The unique col­lage art work ex­hi­bi­tion of Pak­istani cul­tural and literary her­itage was the first ever in Bri­tish Columbia. The open­ing re­cep­tion to launch the Peace & Har­mony Art (xhi­bi­tion was hosted by the Rich­mond Art Gallery on Septem­ber 1st 2018 in the roof top gar­den pa­tio of the Rich­mond Cul­tural Cen­tre. This beau­ti­ful set­ting was a re­mark­able sight, where in a stand­ing room ca­pac­ity, guests from var­i­ous eth­nic com­mu­ni­ties wit­nessed the Mayor of the City of Rich­mond gra­ciously ac­cept a paint­ing with a plaque. The plaque con­tained the fol­low­ing in­scrip­tion: “As-salāmu ʿalaykum, peace be upon you. On the oc­ca­sion of the 2018 World Fes­ti­val, in ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the City of Rich­mond’s com­mit­ment to pro­mote in­ter­cul­tural har­mony, this art­work by Farooq M. Rai from his Peace & Har­mony Art (xhi­bi­tion is pre­sented to Rich­mond City Hall.” Mayor Mal­colm Brodie thanked Mr. Rai for his thought­ful gift to the City of Rich­mond. Also, it was nice to see the Mayor of Rich­mond speak highly about his sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion. As a mem­ber of the Pak­istani com­mu­nity, Mr. Rai was rec­og­nized for his ded­i­cated vol­un­teer work and ef­forts in pro­mot­ing bet­ter in­ter­cul­tural re­la­tions. It is a mat­ter of our com­mu­nity’s pride that Pak­istan’s cul­tural iden­tity and her­itage was show­cased dur­ing the sig­nif­i­cant event like World Fes­ti­val in Rich­mond. There were warm hugs and emo­tion­ally charged feel­ings among the Cana­di­ans of Pak­istani ori­gin when they saw the large posters with Al­lama Iqbal’s po­etry and Su­rah Ar-Rah­man in trans­la­tion (Which then the boun­ties of Al­lah will you deny ) promi­nently dis­played. It was heart warm­ing to see stu­dents from the dis­tant Fraser 9al­ley Univer­sity Ab­bots­ford at­tend the re­cep­tion and art ex­hi­bi­tion. The ex­ten­sive vol­un­teer work by Mr. Rai was quite ob­vi­ous in ac­com­plish­ing all this with the as­sis­tance of the City of Rich­mond staff. Mr. Rai also ac­knowl­edged their sup­port dur­ing his open­ing re­marks. The of­fi­cial web­site of the Rich­mond Art Gallery shared the fol­low­ing in­for­ma­tion for pro­mo­tional pur­poses: “Farooq M. Rai: Peace & Har­mony Art (xhi­bi­tion Rich­mond Cul­tural Cen­tre Up­per Ro­tunda, Pre­sented by Rich­mond Art Gallery and Rich­mond World Fes­ti­val Farooq Rai, Rich­mond-based Cana­dian of Pak­istani ori­gin artist con­sid­ers the in­spi­ra­tional mes­sage of Al­lama Iqbal (poet and philoso­pher b. 1877) as a means to pre­serve a unique cul­tural iden­tity and her­itage within Bri­tish Columbia. The ex­hi­bi­tion presents a se­lec­tion of Rai’s unique col­lages high­light­ing Ara­bic Urdu cal­lig­ra­phy and a mes­sage of peace and har­mony. Rai was ap­pointed as the first As­sis­tant Deputy Min­is­ter, and Head of Min­istry re­spon­si­ble for Mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism and Im­mi­gra­tion in 1 4. Also a writer and ad­vo­cate in the com­mu­nity, Rai’s pas­sion and sin­cere com­mit­ment to rais­ing aware­ness of the Pak­istani Is­lamic literary cul­tural her­itage is core to this body of work. Dur­ing the mem­o­rable re­cep­tion to launch the art ex­hi­bi­tion, the Act­ing Con­sul Gen­eral of Pak­istan, Mr. Fa­had Am­jad, stated that: “It gives me great plea­sure to be here on this aus­pi­cious oc­ca­sion of the Open­ing Re­cep­tion and launch of the Art (xhi­bi­tion: Peace & Har­mony by Mr. Farooq Rai, a Cana­dian of Pak­istani’s ori­gin who hails from a fam­ily who laid their roots in Bri­tish Columbia well over a cen­tury ago. I want to con­vey our ap­pre­ci­a­tion to those who fa­cil­i­tated this Art Work ex­hi­bi­tion to take place in this beau­ti­ful set­ting. I un­der­stand that the World Fes­ti­val in Rich­mond is one of B.C.’s sig­na­ture mul­ti­cul­tural fes­ti­vals which cel­e­brates cul­tural di­ver­sity. I ac­knowl­edge and rec­og­nize Mr. Rai’s pas­sion and sin­cere com­mit­ment to rais­ing aware­ness about the Peace & Har­mony mes­sage, which is the theme of his unique Col­lage Art Work (xhi­bi­tion. While in this pur­suit he is also high­light­ing Pak­istan’s unique cul­tural and literary her­itage. I again want to thank the Mayor and the City of Rich­mond for their con­tin­u­ous con­tri­bu­tion and wish all the suc­cess to Mr. Farooq Rai for his pas­sion­ate vol­un­teer work.” Mr. Rai in his pas­sion­ate re­marks em­pha­sized that he “wanted to con­vey a mes­sage of peace and har­mony from a cit­i­zen’s per­spec­tive rather then from of any po­lit­i­cal, or re­li­gious or­ga­ni­za­tions.” Mr. Rai men­tioned that he was mo­ti­vated by the grow­ing re­cent un­for­tu­nate incidents of in­tol­er­ance prompt­ing him as an art en­thu­si­ast to present his ex­hi­bi­tion with the theme of “Peace & Har­mony.”He also em­pha­sized that there should be no doubt in any­one’s mind that we, as proud Cana­di­ans of Pak­istani ori­gin, are com­mit­ted and ac­tively in­volved in mak­ing our coun­try ever stronger, safer and pros­per­ous. We are peace-lov­ing, civic-minded and united in mak­ing Canada the best coun­try in the world. Such sen­ti­ments along with the loud mes­sage of peace and har­mony was warmly ap­plauded by ev­ery­one. The au­di­ence was vis­i­bly moved by the pro­ceed­ings and the art ex­hi­bi­tion with the theme of “Peace & Har­mony.”

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