I have always believed that prejudice is caused by lack of knowledge.
Once one truly gets to know something that is different, it has a chance of becoming familiar and thus much less frightening.
I went to an exhibition on Islamic Art last weekend in Rio and it was very obvious how little people know about its multiple cultural aspects. We westerns tend to group Islam under a single mass of people – which couldn’t be farther from reality.
Not only does Islamic Art excel in its use of geometrical shapes and floral patterns, it also shows a delightful emphasis on calligraphy and the importance of handwriting in its presentation.
I love the way modern artists draw inspiration from these sources – scarcely known in western societies, I dare say.
Like Shezad Dawood:
This contemporary British artist cleverly uses elements commonly associated with the modern world with century-old artistic heritage to create art that questions general views on Islam and on religion.
Although religion may play an ambiguous role in the shaping of societies and even in the spreading of prejudices, it is undeniable that it is a reflection of culture as much as it is part of it.
Knowing its various sides can help us all build a world where people are more important than what their belief system might be.
As for the arts, as M.I.A. once said: trend-setters make things better.