Masjid-ul Islam in Kochi in Kerala has become the first-of-its-kind masjid in India to house an art gallery and a heritage centre. Opened in April last year for the general public, the centre is housed inside the masjid, where people offer prayers alongside the art gallery.
The purpose of the art gallery is to give an insight into Islamic history, various art forms and the contribution it made to the science and literature and different culture.
A joint initiative of Masjidul Islam Charitable Trust and Forum for Faith and Fraternity, The Islamic Heritage Centre (IHC), which is housed inside the masjid welcomes visitors with two quotes: a verse from the Qur’an on the left, and a sukta from the Rigveda on the right, both delivering the same message.
“We want people to understand the principles of pluralism, cultural diversity and the importance of upholding these traits in the contemporary world,” TOI quoted K A Mohammed Ashraf, the masjid committee’s chairman who set up the masjid with his own funds four years ago.
The masjid also houses a library, which has books ranging from different religious texts to even novels and poetry.
Currently on show in the gallery is a photo exhibition by documentary photographer Biju Ibrahim, which focuses on the 42 communities living in and around Mattancherry and Fort Kochi.
Ibrahim’s show ‘Transcendence’, is a perfect representative of this vision of plurality. From Lohanas, who are followers of Jhulelal, to Dhakni Muslims and 24 Telugu Manai Chettiars, his photographs capture vibrant communities in all their diversity.