Asad Ali Jafri is a cultural producer, global arts leader and multidisciplinary artist with a creative vision for sustainable social change. As an innovative thinker, Asad utilizes the universal language of art to connect communities, cultures and people to transform our interactions, perceptions, and consciousness. Since 2001, Asad has worked passionately with artists, creatives, and thought leaders across nations, disciplines, and genres to curate meaningful productions, design sustainable initiatives, and build strong communities.
As a cultural producer, Asad is the creative mind behind many festivals, concerts, events and productions. In the role of Director of Arts and Culture for IMAN (Inner-city Muslim Action Network), until 2012, Asad produced Takin’ It to the Streets: Urban International Festival and the Community Café series featuring hundreds of artists and attracting thousands of people. Asad has also produced events across the globe, including, most recently, the Marketplace of Creative Arts in Kuala Lumpur and London.
As a global arts leader, Asad works closely with emerging and established artists on new opportunities for original work, developmental workshops, artist retreats and residencies, cultural exchanges, network building, and resource sharing. Asad has served as a touring Cultural Ambassador for the US Sate Department as well as an advisor for the New England Foundation for the Arts’ Center Stage and Art Midwest’s CaravanSerai programs to bring international performing artists on US residency tours. One of Asad’s newer projects, launching in London, is MOCAfellows - a three-day intensive on professional and business development for artists.
As a multi-disciplinary artist, Asad plays and blends soulful, spiritual, and, of course, funky music from around the globe as DJ Man-O-Wax. As a founding member and director of FEW Collective, Asad directs and tours with a rotating group of performing artists and musicians using art to engage, educate, and inspire. One of Asad’s signature productions as an artist is “Turntable Dhikr” - a spiritual meditation on the Divine through turntablism. Asad has performed as an artist across five continents and ten countries and is a proud member of the Universal Zulu Nation.
But what makes Asad’s work unique and important is how he brings it all together around Community Building. He leads many youth workshops and leadership programs, including, for example, the recent Young Fellows program on behalf of the World Islamic Economic Forum, which brought 25 young people to Durban, South Africa for a week of holistic leadership development. Asad also helped establish “thinkTALK,” in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as a way to build community dialogue around topical issues.
In short, Asad melds his love of people, communities, and travel with his experience in art, music, and cultural production while aiming to create positive and intergenerational transformation within communities.
Faila Pašić Bišić, was born in Jesenice, Slovenia, into a Muslim family that had emigrated from Bosnia. Despite being treated as a foreigner, she managed to gain a good education. Faila Pašić Bišić founded an NGO, the Up [Hope] Charity, with the intention of reaching many different groups of people, both adults and children, from wide ranging backgrounds.
… For the last ten years, she has been travelling around the world, promoting tolerance and compassion, protection of the environment, coexistence of all religions, nations cultures and social others. She is also initiator of numerouos humanitarian aid projects, as well as activities promoting intercultural dialogue and understanding. She is also doing voluntary service in Bosnian, Kosovan, African and Palestinian refugee camps. She has earned recognition from various social, healthcare, political personages. She has been awarded the best Volonteer 2006, Humanist of the year 2007, Face of the European year of equal opportunities for all 2007, and nominated for Slovenian women of the year 2008 and Young European 2008.
She also works against racism and islamophobia in Europe; in this video she briefly talks about her experiences as a woman wearing hijab in Slovenia and how she is treated by others because of it. Among one of the very important things she also says in the video is:
"If we label a person as an immigrant, a foreigner, or a second class citizen, we categorise them in a group of people who do not belong to society; by doing so we neglect all other aspects of their identity."
If you don’t know about her, it’s about time you do. She is amazing. God bless.
First Female to Recite the Quran at the Annual ISNA Convention
Across the globe, a lot of Muslims will affirm that the appearance of a Muslim woman in a generally male centered discussion is not only surprising, but somewhat controversial.
For those that are not aware about the ongoing discussion surrounding the appearance of a Muslim woman, especially like Tahera Ahmad (in the above video who recites Quran during the ISNA Convention just last week), the idea that a Muslim woman appears to speak, recite Quran, or join in the discussion pertaining to Islam is a delicate subject.
During the ISNA Convention (2013), Tahera Ahmad, chaplain at Northwestern Univeristy, publicly recited the Qur’an. In this video, you’ll find that Sister Tahera is not just a veiled female, but an active participant in society.
Unfortunately, a lot of controversy surrounding her choice to “reveal her awrah,” or display what Muslims understand as the “awrah,” an aspect of the human being that should neither be vocalized nor displayed, has been present.
As an Islamic feminist, I applaud Tahera for choosing to recite the Qur’an in a male dominated environment. It does not only harbor strength and courage, but inspiration for the many Muslim women who have similar aspirations as sister Ahmad.
And as Omid Safi explains in his article: Words of God in women’s voices: Women reciting the Qur’an in public, “The truth of the matter is that half of the recitation talent, like half of any other talent, in the Muslim community is found among its female citizens. To deprive a community of the opportunity to benefit from the leadership, recitation, interpretation of half of its members will allow it to be only half as good as it can be.”
She is the official translator (Arabic-French) of the International Union of Islamic Scholars and a member of the European Council of Religious Leaders. She is also a coordinator of Women of Faith Global Network (WFGN), co-president of Religions for Peace (RfP), a co-author of school manuals on religious education in multicultural societies, and a lecturer on Islamic topics.
She graduated from Tunis High College for Teachers with a degree in English Language and Literature in 1986. In 1991, she received a post-graduate diploma of DEA in English literature from La Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris.
In 1996, Ms. Labidi-Maiza received a post-graduate diploma of specialized studies of translation at La Sorbonne. She teaches translation of religious texts at the European Institute for Humanities, France’s first academy of Islamic theology.
In 2011 she was elected as representative of Tunisians living in France in the National Founding Assembly of Tunisia, as a member of the Ennahdha Party. She was elected vice chair of the assembly.
She is an Australian mechanical engineer and founder of the non government organisation based in Australia named Youth Without Borders.
Youth without Borders is an advocacy group designed to empower youth in their communities. It provides a structured journey into volunteering and global citizenship for young Australians aged 13 to 20. It takes the idea of a gap year and turned it on its head to create an extended volunteering placement in Australia or Asia-Pacific. "Young People Without Borders will transform a generation, embedding the notion of contribution and giving back to society into the DNA of all young Australians."
Her achievements bear this out: she was presented with the ‘Young Queenslander of the Year’ award in 2010 for her contribution to the community, In 2007 she was named Young Australian Muslim of the Year, In 2012 she was named Young Leader in the Australian Financial Review and she also won the inaugural 100 Women of Influence Awards.
She also coaches a football team for Muslim girls called ‘Shinpads and Hijabs’.
She also aims to use her degree to go into the field of motorsport, and perhaps become the first female Muslim Formula 1 driver. In the more distant future, her friends see a political career beckoning, and something she sees as a very real possibility.
pictured:Dr. Mohamed picks up a BET ‘Black Girls Rock’ Award for her mother.
She’s a doctor, a newlywed, a fighter of terrorists in Somalia and a humanitarian
Dr. Deqo Mohamed and her sister, both doctors, work in Somalia with their trailblazing mother, also a doctor, who runs a hospital and camp that houses some 90,000 displaced people, mostly women and children
[Flickr] Here, Muslim women are hosting a workshop (majlis, or halaqa) discussing “Women & Social Responsibilities” in which topics such as social responsibility, freedom for women, and individualistic, personal roles have been pin-pointed.
In this article, Dr. Zehra (executive committee member of the AIMPLB) said that Muslims lag behind in education which is largely responsible for most of the problems faced by the community.
We need more of this, like a lot more. And what I love about this is that Muslim women are the hostesses of this discussion, not men. Love!
People in Islam — Samina Ali, an advocate for women’s rights.
Samina Ali, an Indian born Muslim who lives in San Francisco, is one of the most bravest women we have a part of our religious community today. Founder of an online exhibition titled: International Museum of Women “Muslima,” Samina is also a writer and a blogger, in which you can find her twitter here.
After reading an interview with Samina on the Economist newsletter, I have found Samina to be a great, reliable heroine of our century. She promotes stability, empowerment, and structure within the Muslim community and uses the internet as a tool to achieve that.
After scrolling through this exhibition that’s promoted online, which you can find here, I have found Samina’s project to be an extraordinary achievement for the Muslim Ummah.
I hope that some day, she gets the exposure she deserves and continues to advocate for the right to be heard.
People in Islam - Sheikh Ebrahim Gabriels : Scholar, Activist, teacher
Sheikh Ebrahim Gabriels is a South African Islamic Scholar known for his passion for the Palestinian cause. This passion for Palestine was born out of his own experience with the South African Apartheid regime, which had forcibly removed him and his family from their lush home in Claremont, Cape Town, to a suburb on the overcrowded Cape Flats.
It was here on the Cape flats, that Gabriels met his Ustaath, Imam Ismail Johnstone. The alim served as a great inspiration to the young Gabriels, and urged him to study Arabic and the deen of Islam. He subsequently spent nine years studying Islam in the city of our beloved Prophet (pbuh), Medina. He graduated from the faculty of Shar’iah in 1987. In addition, he holds a BA degree in Theology.
Gabriels went on to become the President of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) of South Africa and President of the United Ulema council of South Africa (uucsa). As president of the respective bodies, Gabriels led extensive outreach programs to various communities, and provided much needed guidance to the Muslim community.
One of his main concerns for the Muslim community is the manner in which parents raise their children. “I honestly feel we are not doing enough to contribute to our children’s spiritual development. In fact many parents think that seeing to their children’s worldly needs is where their responsibilities end,” stated the Alim.
This concern spurred him to get involved in various Islamic education institutions, to assist, teach and guide parents and children. Gabriels is currently the president of the Darul Arqam Islamic High School in Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town.
His work for Palestine, sees the Alim appearing on various radio stations across the country, calling on the South African community to support the BDS Campaign. He has led various Humanitarian Aid conveys to Palestine, including Miles4Smiles and Africa 2 Gaza Aid Convoy.
He is currently the Director of the Al Aqsa Foundation South Africa, and has been Imam at the Portlands mosque in Mitchell’s plan for 19 years.
Gabriels loves teaching and working with disadvantaged communities. He is still actively involved in the MJC, and travels to Palestine regularly.
An exploration of how brothers and sisters in Islam are changing minds and saving lives. This blog is meant to be an insight to not only those who adhere to the religion of Islam, but to people (of other faiths) who have questions about what Islam as a religion is and what Muslims (who adhere to this religion) are like.