Experiencing tolerance

Lakshmi Kothaneth –

For a while now, Oman’s exhibition has been travelling across the globe titled Tolerance, Understanding, Coexistence — Oman’s Message of Islam, which is an insight into Islamic life in a modern Arab Society.
The locations of Oman’s touring exhibition are Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Nepal, Netherlands, Pakistan, Slovenia, Spain, United Kingdom, USA and Albania.
The exhibition has been hosted in various locations in Oman as well.
The exhibition shares Oman’s experience on the tolerance practiced in the Sultanate. The exhibition also highlights the work of Omani calligraphers. Oman has some Quranic manuscripts produced by Omani calligraphers.
“They are characterised by simplicity and clarity. Some manuscripts were written with gold ink and embellished with religious ornaments. Drawings of living creatures are not featured,” states the exhibition.
An important manuscript is the “Oman Quran” that was commissioned by the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs. What is interesting is that project was completed in 2006 after eight years of continuous work. The work is considered to be inspired by the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.
The exhibition also throws light on cultural customs such as the birth of the child. “For Omanis the birth of a child is an important social occasion where the whole family gathers, gifts are made and congratulations are conveyed. It is customary to put money into the swaddling clothes of the new born. The young mother takes her infant on visits to her parents’ house, where everyone gets involved in the happy event,” describes the exhibition.
“Some of the rituals surrounding the birth of a child are influenced by religious rites.
Immediately after the birth of the child, chewed dates are rubbed on the baby’s gums, the call to prayer is whispered in the right ear, and a prayer of protection against the devil is whispered in the left ear, as instructed by the Prophet. (Peace Be Upon Him).
On the seventh day after birth the baby’s head is shaved, the hair is weighed and a donation of silver is made of the equivalent weight. On that day the child receives his or her name, and the family gathers for a special meal.”
What is remarkable is an old custom in Oman which brings in the connection with the nature. “For each newborn a date palm is planted. It slowly grows to become the child’s personal tree because date palms live about as long as people, they can keep their owners from starvation. They are a traditional form of life insurance.”
The exhibition also has a collection of calligraphy in wood, which incorporates light and shadow effect to the delight of visitors. All of the works depict worship and gratitude as in the case of one calligraphy which projects its shadow on the wall displaying an infant and parents on either sides.