The Brigham Young University Museum of Art (BYU MOA) is current hosting a spectacularly beautiful exhibit devoted to Islamic Arts and Cultures called Beauty and Belief. I have lived in the Middle East several times and find the place mesmerizingly enchanting, the history exciting, the cultures so vibrant and alive, and the people so warm and inviting. What a tremendous opportunity for having a small taste of that culture because of the BYU MOA.
A few weeks ago I went to a theatrical performance with David at BYU. On the way back to the car he said he wanted to go into the Museum and see the exhibit (he isn’t even 5 years old yet!). As we walked through I explained a bit about the Arabic language to him, told him that I had studied Arabic for years, read some of the inscriptions and text to him and explained that he could learn that language too, if he worked at it. I helped him to get a sense for time and history and for how old some of the objects were that we were looking at, to come to appreciate the significant time, effort, and creativity that is required to create such beautiful objects that now represent these delightful cultures. He really loved it and continually commented on how “cool” everything was, how pretty it all was, how fun it would be to decorate buildings and every other object imaginable with the beautiful cursive writing of scripture. Indeed, one of the most prevalent forms of Islamic art is the use of Quranic passages in Arabic. Incidentally, many Muslims believe that only Qurans in Arabic are truly the word of God. Hence an English translation of the Quran is not as true as the Arabic original.
Lisa and I visited the Museum a few days ago with both the kids to enjoy the family day activities. Middle Eastern music and dance were performed; I felt that I had been transported back hundreds years to the bustling, vibrant Persian Empire.
I encourage you to take the time to visit the exhibit. Make it a date. The MOA cafe upstairs has excellent food as well. You won’t be disappointed with any aspect of the museum!