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The World of Islam
(concept of the media and research project)

Islam has many faces. Over the centuries Muslim nations have both open-handedly shared their culture with their neighbors and easily borrowed achievements from those neighbors as well. The cultures of different Muslim nations are usually self-sufficient and undoubtedly of equal worth. Islamic civilization represents the unity of variety. It is here that the great potential of its historical development is rooted.

In recent years we have witnessed numerous attempts to impose on the whole Muslim world ideology which is undoubtedly alien to millions of Muslims living now on all continents. Battle is joined for the hearts and minds of Muslims, and the most important weapons in this battle are the word and image: only with the power of the word and image could the human being be turned into a living bomb and only with the power of the word and image can one also prevent such transformations.

Also misplaced is the way Western media often thrust on their audience the perverted notion of Islam as a strict totalitarian model, portraying Muslims solely as feckless fanatics.

The aim of the "World of Islam" project is to withstand and counter both of these destructive tendencies. The project is based on my personal scholarly and human experience. More then 25 years ago, my fate bound me with the field of Islamic studies. Research projects connected with ancient Muslim manuscripts brought me to the reading halls of the largest libraries, to the streets of cities, to tiny villages, and to Bedouin camps. I had the chance to visit dozens of states in both the East and the West. Now, I am fortunate to have many friends living in these varied places.

Our project is an attempt to present the wealth and diversity of the historical and cultural heritage of the Islamic civilization that once played the role of a bridge between Hellenism and the Renaissance. It is an attempt to look at the world through the eyes of ordinary Muslims - to present the traditional culture of the people who constitute the "world of Islam" and who are creating it through their work every day.

The project is initiated in multinational Russia. The unique peculiarity of its civilization is well expressed by a maxim: "living together, but remaining different". Muslim nations of Russia created a rich culture. In addition to the double-headed eagle, up until the middle of the nineteenth century Russia used as a state symbol in its relations with Eastern states a tughra - calligraphic motto in Arabic - which included the formula bi-'inayati Rabbi'l-'alamin ("With the Providence of the Lord of the Worlds"). Now Russia actively collaborates with the Organization of Islamic Conference.

Our project consists of :

  • A series of 1-minute-long documentaries devoted to every Muslim nation of the world;
  • A series of 26-minute-long documentaries devoted to the mysteries of Islamic manuscripts and museum collections, and to the history of scholarly expeditions and discoveries;
  • A website of the project containing scholarly and educational material connected with all Islamic nations, as well as short documentaries;
  • A colorful, five-volume, educational encyclopedia on the Islamic world, containing professional photo reports on every Muslim nation;
  • A series of photo exhibitions of "The World of Islam";
  • Educational software on traditional cultures of Islamic nations, intended for the school children.

The 1-minute long documentaries created in the frames of the project could be suggested for the leading TV channels of Muslim countries, Europe, Russia, and the USA. The series of the "long documentaries" would be created for presentation on the cultural and educational TV channels.

The project is based on the treasures of the famous museum, library and archival collections of St. Petersburg, Russia's cultural capital. It is realized in collaboration and support of Rosbalt Information Agency, the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Production Center "St. Petersburg - 21st century".

Russian, English and Arabic are the working languages of the project.