SALAM Puts on Splendid Hajj Exhibit
By Zaki Syed

Glimpses of the Hajj Exhibit organised by the Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims (SALAM)

Many years ago Prophet Ibrahim had a dream, in which Allah (swt) ordered him to sacrifice his son Ismael, in order to show his dedication to Allah. Just when Prophet Ibrahim was about to sacrifice his son, Allah showered his mercy upon him and sent a lamb to be sacrificed instead. To honor Prophet Ibrahim’s sacrifice and dedication to Allah, every year Muslims embark on the wonderful journey known as Hajj.
“If there is one act of worship that show equality in Islam it is Hajj”, says Imam Aziz of SALAM (Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims). “There is no other place in the world that hosts three million people, poor, rich, man, woman, all wearing the same cloth in one valley worshipping God.” Aziz isn’t the only person who felt this way, the Muslims of SALAM, Folsom Cresent School, and numerous volunteers in Sacramento area also felt strongly about Hajj. Together they put an interactive Hajj exhibit that was hosted at SALAM.
Volunteers started working on the Hajj exhibit after Ramadan, the project took two-and-a-half months to complete. Volunteers came from a diverse array of backgrounds, and consisted of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
The purpose of the Hajj exhibit, according to Sarah Tisdel, Youth Coordinator at SALAM, was to provide the Muslim youth with a different way of looking at their culture. It was also intended to provide non-Muslims an opportunity to learn about the wonderful experience of Hajj.
“Basically this (the Hajj exhibit) is supposed to familiarize people with the rights of Hajj,” said Tisdel. The Hajj exhibit was designed in such a way that visitors felt they were on Hajj themselves. When one entered the exhibit, he/she were surrounded by makeshift mountains, prayer rugs, lamps, sands used to replicate the desert, historical monuments, and most breathtaking of all: a replicated Kabah. In the media room, there was a video playing showing pilgrims making their rounds on Hajj. It was surreal, and felt like a mini-museum. To supplement this, the Folsom Crescent School consisting of students up to second grade, sang numerous Islamic songs in English, Arabic concerning Hajj.
Azeem Shams, a performer from Folsom Crescent school, said that he had fun performing his songs and he was glad to share the Hajj experience with others. Riaz Siddique, principal of Folsom Crescent School, was happy his school got a chance to perform at the Hajj exhibit.
“We need to teach our children from an early age how Hajj is performed, and the significance of our creator,” said Siddique. Siddique also feels that events like the Hajj exhibit are important so that theycan show Americans what Islam is truly about. “We need to change our perception and show them (our non-Muslim American friends) the good things Islam has accomplished”, stated Siddique. Many others also shared Siddique’s view.
In his Friday Khutbah Imam Aziz urged Muslims to participate in the Hajj exhibit and similar events, so that when people think of Islam peace and unity come to their mind rather than bloodshed. A volunteer and youth from SALAM Omar Sharif said he volunteered to help out his community and show others that Muslims are good law-abiding people.
Well it worked: numerous non-Muslims from nearby areas were drawn to the exhibit and fascinated by what they saw. JoAnne Hancock, a student at Sacramento State, had this to say, “Because I took a Middle Eastern history class and came to this exhibit I now have a better understanding of the Middle Eastern culture.”
Helping others understand Islam, and educating our children at the same time, should be the goal of all Muslims. A huge amount of effort went into this exhibit so that the stereotypes that plaque Islam could be diminished. However, it is an ongoing battle and we need each and every individual to participate in this form of Dawah and worship. So go down to your local mosque to be an asset in projects like these. Volunteer, because together as an Ummah we can do it!

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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