The first round of an all India contest on a biography of the Prophet Muhammad was held on Tuesday in different cities across the country. Called the "Infinite Light Contest", it tests the participants' knowledge about the life of the Prophet as described in the book The Infinite Light, originally written in Turkish by Muhammed Fethullah Gulen of Turkey and translated into several languages including Urdu and Hindi.
Dr Mohsin Ali, Faculty of Humanities and Languages at Jamia Millia University said, "The first round was held simultaneously in cities such as Aligarh, Bangalore, New Delhi, etc." The response to the contest has also been positive. "People turned up in large numbers. In New Delhi alone over a 1,000 participants turned up at the Jamia Hamdard Univesity, the venue," he said. "We intend to make this contest an annual affair," he added.
A committee was formed under the aegis of important Islamic organisations and scholars in India including Darul Uloom Deoband, Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, and Shaikh Salim Qasmi, Syed Rabey Hasan Nadwi, Sajjad Numani, Syed Hayderali Shihab Thangal, and Maulana Hamidullah Lone to organise this contest. The final round will be held on 9 February 2013.
An important objective of the contest is to counter the negative propaganda about Islam and the Prophet. Rizwanur Rahman, assistant professor of Arabic language and Islamic Civilisation at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), said, "It is essential to correct the misunderstandings that surround Islam. There is nothing bad about, or wrong with, any religious doctrine. It is the followers who indulge in untoward acts. "
The Infinite Light Contest is a part of the worldwide Gulen Movement, which focuses on the betterment of people and society as a whole by disseminating humanitarian beliefs inspired by the ideas of Fethullah Gulen, the author. "It is important to spread awareness among people. The contest is a great way of doing so. It is also an effective way of encouraging inter-faith dialogue," said Rahman.
"Such contests have been taking place in India for a while now. However, it is for the first time that we have organised a contest on the Prophet's life at an all-India level. Several non-Muslims actively participated in the same," he added.
Abdul Alim Khan, a participant and student of Jamia Hamdard University said, "Being part of the contest was a very interesting experience for me. I believe it is important for us to have knowledge of our origins and creator. "