11 December, 2012

Khayyam's anniversary - Celebrating Muslim heritage

Sana Jamal


ISLAMABAD - A good number of people had a chance to learn about the ‘Renaissance Man’ of the Muslim world in an incredible surroundings that takes one back to the 11the century for it was the time of Omar Khayyam. The exquisite artworks by Irfan Qureshi, the delightful recital by Usman Qazi, and the outstanding mime act directed by Ms. Indu Mitha added charm to the event held at Gallery6 to pay tribute to Omar Khayyam on his 881st death anniversary.
Born in 1048 in Nishapur (a city in Iran), the poet we know today as Omar Khayyam contributed greatly to mathematics, astronomy, philosophy. The event started with brief video clips that enlightened Khayyam was also expert in the fields of mechanics, geography, music and Islamic theology that make him one of the prominent scholars of the Muslim world. It was Edward FitzGerald who introduced the poet of East in the West through translation of Khayyam's quatrains titled as ‘The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam’. His treasured verses were recited in Persian with English translation by Usman Qazi, clad in traditional gray shalwar kameez completed with headscarf, who charmed the audiences. 


One of Irfan Qureshi's remarkable artworks.
Irfan Ahmed Qureshi’s 36 calligraphic paintings, with the splendid design, a huge horse composed of the verses of Khayyam, were admired by one and all. “The horse signifies the struggle in life as well as strength and action” told Qureshi, he Lahore-based calligrapher. The versatile event was the idea of Dr. Saman Yazdani Khan who said that the sole purpose of the event was to bring role models from Muslim civilization to life for the young generation. “We often forget that how culturally rich we are! The country we live in had been a seat of world's leading civilizations from the time immemorial.”

A specially prepared mime choreographed by Indu Mitha was perhaps the best part of the evening. The actors, affiliated with ‘Mazmoon-e-Shauq’, took the form of varied clay pots by wearing pretty costumes. 
The act was set in a potter’s workshop, where the pots pondered over the mysteries of their existence when the master potter (played by Rehan Sheikh) thumped clay on ground. ‘The potter took me from the common Earth only to stamp me back to common Earth again’ remarked one pot that led to more questions raised by other pots. The dialogue of the pots related to master potter evoked the queries such as man’s life and purpose on earth, concerning human life in relation to its Creator. The idea was adapted from one part of Khayyam’s ‘Kooza naama’ (Book of Pots), read out by Ms. Mitha on the occasion.

The event was a great reminder of the golden Muslim civilization to the world. “Our youth has this inferiority complex that all the great things come from west, but they hardly know about scientific achievements from Muslim Civilization,” said Qureshi. For instance, it was Omar Khayyam who described how to solve cubic equations. “Through my work, I aim to acquaint our youth with the Muslim contributions that helped create the foundations of our modern world” he said referring to ‘1001 Inventions’.