Yesterday I was moderating a discussion at a muslim cultural center in Malmö. Among the participants there were people born in Sweden or in the Middle East and other places far from Scandinavia. A majority of the audience, mostly young women and men, saw their first daylight in a Swedish home. Some of them were raised up in families with parents who fled from turbulent political circumstances, oppression and poverty. Almost everyone attending the meeting have realtives living in countries outside Europe.
This crowd concentrated on Islam as an important contributor of culture and values to the local social life. The definition of muslim culture was certainly not an easy task, and the participants underlined different aspects. One mentioned that the definition must be fluid, depending on the surrounding enviroment and on the personal point of view. Another speaker stressed the importance of islamic esthetics and the inspiration that can be found in the Quran, with a clear exhortation to seek for beauty and truth.
The search for beauty and truth have nothing to do with escapism or a superficial way of life. Islamic calligraphy and other sacred artistic works can inspire people to make them aware of how fragile life is and what a resource there is in man. A resource that can make ruins turn into a palace.
I am very thankful to those who claim the importance of beauty and truth in arts, and I am not surprised that our muslim sisters and brothers are reminding us about the arts true value.