MH Exclusive: The Narcicyst

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Photo Credit: Tamara Abdul Hadi (www.tamarabdulhadi.com)

Yassin Alsalman, better known by his stage name The Narcicyst (or Narcy), is an Iraqi-Canadian journalist and Hip Hop MC. 

MH: Tell us about how you got into rapping? What inspired you? How’d it start?

It really all started with a Wu-tang Tape. That eventually became an obsession with Hip-Hop culture and its ability to mix and match independent experiences into one ‘brand’ or movement. My life has been a jumbled traveller experience, so I went from there and started just documenting the culture. Back in the 256K modem days, I would go online and download images and create folders of my favorite artists with their lyrics, album covers, just anything I could find. Eventually I started recording in my room flipping segments of instrumentals I would find online and looping them. I would record to that on a two-tape Sony stereo with my boys. Writing took over for years. I moved back to Canada in 2000, hit the studio with my brothers-from-another-mother SandhiLL and started recording. The rest, as they say, is mystory.

  MH: What topics or issues guide inspire your music?

 At first, I was very influenced by politics. I would spend hours digging the past and how it has affected the present, then write songs. After 9/11, we really started defending our origins, religion and distancing ourselves from senseless acts of violence and speaking out against the unjust invasions of the early 2000s. As of late, I’ve been digging into my personal past, and taking from day to day experiences in Canada and building narratives that are relatable. We are an international population, that of the Diaspora. I believe that this shapes my new music more than anything; the people I meet at shows and around the world on my travels, that belong nowhere and everywhere at once. The limitless immigrants.

MH: Your music style is unique—what influences the sound of your music? Your cultural background? Your faith? Your life experiences?

I am heavily influenced by classical music, layering different genres and sounds. I can record a sound from the streets and use it in my music. I think definetely the ‘ethos’ behind my music comes from my religion, but it isn’t the main body of influence to my work. Like I said, I am an amalgamation of so many cultural by-products, and so is my music. I get bored easily, so I like my music to be rich and push my own boundaries, as well as those that the public expect of a “hip-hop artist”. It’s all about jumping through boxes. and back out of them.

 

MH: Are there any artists who inspired you or influence your style of music?

So many……I also consider writers and ‘intellectuals’ artists. They have a way of presenting thoughts that make you want to learn more. That is an art in itself. My influence grows daily, so there isn’t one specific person. The world is the best place to find inspiration.

 MH: What role does hip hop or music play in educating listeners about topics and issues not usually spoken about?

I think hip-hop is one of the most versatile artforms and cultures. That is both a gift and a curse. A gift because it can directly transport someone to another experience, another world, another reality. It serves as a document of the juxtapositions you can experience in modern society and its pitfalls/achievements. It’s a curse because it can be a self-destructive form of music as well, which can be blamed on an industry, or the individual. At the end of the day, Human nature, as a practice, is both self-involved, destructive and beautiful and community driven. Hip-Hop has no inhibitions, it is a place where you can be yourself, or be someone else.

 MH: What has the response been to your more critical lyrics about political and social issues? 

I never worry about peoples reactions.  You are always going to have the good and the bad. But what I did notice about being uber-political at all times, is it invites that destructive and divisive energy into your home. We, as Hyphenated-Arab artists, are learning to channel those emotions and experiences to share them as growing experiences, as opposed to defensive stances. I think, once we learn that art, we will thrive internationally. It’s still early but I think we will get there in the next couple of years.

MH: How do you balance your Western identity with your Iraqi identity?

Like a Juggler! I’m split in half, I really don’t think about it anymore! I love it!

 MH: Do you feel there’s more of an appreciation for hip hop with meaning and positive messages or is there still a long way to go for artists like yourself to get your message out to more mainstream listeners?

I think there is a balance. I am not a preacher, nor am I a politician, nor am I perfect. I think being self-aware, critical and at the same time funloving, is the best way to approach creativity. That way you grow, the viewer grows. It’s a beautiful transformation.

 MH: There are some people who say that hip hop has a negative influence on the youth and encourages the wrong values and lifestyle for the youth and overall is a bad influence on the youth. What are your thoughts?

 I say those people have a one track mind. Music in general has the ability to sway people in two directions. It all depends on the people taking it in, and their circumstances. I think we should blame violence on our societal values and how its reflected in our media and arts. TV is the most violent medium on the mind, so I would look at CSI and stuff like that before I would look at music. Violence is perverse, people are attracted to it. It’s hard to blame one genre for it. I also believe that justifies the outside worlds actions against people of ‘ethnic’ origin. It’s a way of demeaning the power of the displaced. Because we are truly free, devoid of the boundaries of the programmed world.

MH: If there were a mainstream artist you’d like to do a collaboration with who would it be with and why?

I don’t really believe in mainstream vs. underground. Success is deemed by your actions and how far you can take it. I would love to collaborated musically with Kanye, lyrically with Kendrick Lamar, Lupe, Sade, Erykah Badu. There are so many, the sky is the limit. I’ve been blessed to have met and hung out with some of my favorite artists, and I would rather share a meal with someone and talk, then to only work with them.

 MH: What’s your favorite song you’ve produced and why? 

I would say, my favorite song would be something coming up on my next album. The best feeling is finishing a song and saying “wow, where did that come from”. The new stuff is alot different to my old work. I love and hate everything I make. haha!

 MH: What advice would you give to individuals who want to pursue a career in hip hop or music like yourself?

Be Yourself. Realise you are not the best, but strive to be the best you can be. Don’t compete with anyone but yourself. Don’t follow trends, set your own standard. And always think about the repercussions of your words. How will you feel about this music ten years from now? Short term solutions can lead to long term problems.

 MH: How can we keep up-to-date with your music and support your work?

Follow me at @TheNarcicyst on twitter, look up ‘The Narcicyst’ on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Narcicyst/90624925723) and join my page.  Soundcloud me. All that! Follow my crew @WeAreTheMedium on twitter and facebook as well. We have some really really really fun stuff coming up this year! LOVE!

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MH Exclusive: Yusuf Misdaq

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Yusuf Misdaq is a multimedia artist, writer, creative consultant, and is founder of the arts website Nefisa, which also doubles as an independent media label- Nefisa UK.

MH: You’ve got a pretty unique cultural background, can you tell us more about your unique cultural background?

My parents are Afghan, from Afghanistan, and I grew up in a beach town called Brighton in England. It was a nice place, and we were the first Afghan family there. 

 MH: How does your faith and cultural background influence your work?

Well I’m not unlike lots of Muslims raised mostly in the West in that my faith and even cultural background have been blurred slightly by echoes of displacement, and all of the insecurity that comes with that. You find yourself in a constant state of searching and yearning and trying to find out what is authentic, what feels real and true, in both the cultural and spiritual aspect, and of course this path is one that can be walked parallel with the path of artistic expression. I think taken as a whole, the Muslim community also doesn’t really know who it is at large, and that’s reflected in the disunity we sometimes see creeping in. Everyone is claiming to be the middle way and the voice of reason, but claims are one thing.  

MH: What role do you feel art plays in the world? Can it be a tool for education? Social change?

 

Yes it is, all of those. It can also be a tool for ego and selfishness too. So as artists we have to constantly keep ourselves in check, and be around others who keep us in check. We’ve got to make sure we remember that our goal is no different to that of a taxi driver or a ticket salesman, i.e. to constantly serve other humans.

 

 MH: In recent times, Muslim artists have been primarily defined by calligraphy. What other forms of art do you feel are becoming more appreciated and recognized in the Muslim community?

 

Any forms of art that are wholesome are quickly accepted by the community. A community is just that, a community. It’s easy to be in the comfort of your own home and make art, but that’s also not very conducive to getting other people to invest their time in your work. I spent far too long isolated and working on my own art when I was living in the UK, simply because I didn’t feel there was a community for me at that time, and I suffered a lot because of that. But the beautiful thing about America is that the traditional community spirit is very much alive here in many ways, and so, if you know someone from your community, and they are given the chance to display their talent, it is usually appreciated and potentially supported too.

 

MH: In what ways can we educate the Muslim community about its artistic history, increase its artistic innovation and creativity?

 

Muslims can read more hadith and the quran instead of relying on the conjecture of others, doing so will also lay the foundation for them to be far more educated about art, art history and positive innovations in creative, social spheres (all things which tend to thrive when traditional Islam is being implemented); likewise, when a distorted or muddled Islam becomes the norm, those are usually the first things that get wiped out. Being an Afghan, I have seen this quite starkly in my own country. Regarding music, the most contentious issue, we have to be brave enough to face it fully, to face ourselves honestly, and understand the issues fully, at least to the best of our abilities. The unexamined life isn’t worth living, and if anyone out there has ever found themselves feeling conflicted about whether music is okay or not, they should put down whatever they’re doing and look into it. I did. Al-Ghazzali is probably the most reliable and trustworthy source to read regarding the permissibility of music, so my recommendation would be to use him as your starting point. What he says is both uncompromising, incredibly enlightened and subtle at the same time.

 

MH: As a Muslim artist you have quite a unique direction—you’ve done writing, film making and art. What out of those three is your favorite and why?

 

Those mediums are all just different strands of life; life is my favorite :) I’m very grateful to be alive and to have fingers and a voice that I can use for good. There’s nothing unique about making art, pictures, or writing (or rather, there shouldn’t be) – I think the wider ones eyes become to life, both the inner and outer forms of it, the more one is compelled to write and sing about it. It’s brilliant.

 

MH: How did you learn all of your different modes of artistic expression? Were you self-taught or did you have formal education in film, writing and art? 

 

I have an MA in documentary filmmaking, although I have been writing and making music for far longer. Painting and writing and music have all been learned through great masters that I loved, observing their work, imitating it in some ways, and then just carrying on. I wish I had more time to spend with each of them in my week but life pulls you in so many different directions.I was recently fortunate to stay with two amazing wood-carvers in New Mexico for some weeks, Binyamin van Hattum and Omar Cashmere, both of whom are masters of their craft who contributed significantly to the famous Mosque in Abiquiu (they’re both Muslim too). I was really just blessed to be able to watch them, each in their own workshops, doing what they do for somewhat extended periods of time, and I did my best to pick up some of the very basic fundamentals. So, I have been delving much more into wood sculpting and also clay sculpture in the last year or so, which has been a lifelong ambition and one I’m really grateful that I’ve been able to start at such a young age.

 

 MH: What type of art do you feel personally helps you best express yourself, your ideas and your thoughts?

 

Any art that comes from the heart. Art and heart rhyme :)

 

MH: Tell us more about Nefisa. What is it?

Nefisa-UK, in its current form, is a media label that I originally founded in 2002. It’s a small company that publishes books, novels, poetry, and releases and distributes music as well as other artworks. This year we had our very first American intern, Benneh Massaquoi, who has been a real blessing to have on board, and we’ve been working on a lot of exciting projects together, including the new Kindle e-book releases of my first two novels, which just recently came out.

MH: Do you feel there’s a revival of appreciation for art in the Muslim community?  

 Not really. People like to talk about it a lot, because talking about art and creativity really helps those in authority positions look open-minded and culturally sophisticated. When you start to see really great quality art coming from Muslims as the norm and not the exception, then you will know that both appreciation, good taste, and support for the arts in the Muslim community will have increased dramatically. As it is, artists of real quality are quite few and far between, and most of them are fighting a battle with the scales tipped heavily against them, both monetarily and, from within their own society, culturally. I mean, just imagine if a taxi driver had to carry around people in the back of his car who kept on leaning forward and telling him that taxi-driving was a haram profession, or hinting subtly that what he did was not a real or respectable job. He would still drive every day, because he had to, but it would get him down after a while and make it tougher to do what he does well. As I said before, the Muslim community hasn’t really come to grips with who it is and what it wants to be, especially here in the West. When it does that, the love will be felt much stronger and everyone will benefit.

MH: Tell us more about your book, Pieces of a Paki, what is it about, what inspired you to write it?

It’s my first novel. It came out in 2007 and everyone who reads it really likes it. Go in with an open mind and you will too. It recently came out as a Kindle e-book, which you can get on Amazon.  

MH: You have a new album out this year called IF YOU ASK ME, YES! which came out on February 14th of this year, can you tell us more about this album and what it’s about?

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It’s about the power of being and staying positive in the face of a crumbling society. It’s music that I sculpted out of love for people, and a desire to see people happy. I have spent a lot of time working in the media, and I’ve seen first hand how humanity is in a daily tug of war between optimism and pessimism. Between faith and what they would call “reality as it is”. I see things a little differently, and so, along with a lot of musical influence from my time in Malawi, I was blessed to be able to make this album to express my ideas. In it, I am telling everyone that it is going to be all right, that love will win, essentially.  

MH: If you could work with any artist in any artistic field who would you want to work with and why?

Ishmael Butler, who is the MC for the group Shabazz Palaces. He’s the greatest artist alive in Hip-Hop today and has been for quite a long time. Yasin bey would also definitely be in the conversation too, I respect them both a whole lot. I’d also love to work for Terrance Malick in any capacity, whenever it is that he makes his next film. I like always being a student.

MH: What advice would you give to aspiring artists who would like to pursue the same career path as yourself?

If your will is strong, prove it. If you have the desire, then prove it. Make something, and bring it to the world, if you want to. It’s not easy, but if you can do it, you’ll smile at the end, and all your ends will start to become beginnings.  

MH: How  can we keep up with your work and support your work? 

You can keep me in your prayers and if you have a couple of bucks to spare at the end of your day then you can purchase and engage with my works. They’re like little flower ornaments, my artworks, not too big and messy, but just lovely small nuggets of gold and turquoise that you can ingest and enjoy.The books and albums are all available on Amazon, iTunes, etc. If you read some of the user-reviews on Amazon or other reviews on other websites, you’ll find a common thread from people is that they tend to feel inspired to make their own artworks after reading or listening to my stuff. Engaging yourself with sincere artworks nearly always has that transmitting effect, I get it all the time with artists I am curious about. Being successful is, as I’m constantly learning, all about becoming involved in the world around you.
www.ymisdaq.bandcamp.com  / music and visual arts

MH Exclusive: Nadia Janjua

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Nadia Janjua is a professional Artist and Architect by training based in the Washington, D.C. area, working under the business name Nadia J Art.

 

MH: Your profession is not a very common one in the Muslim American community, why did you decide to get into art?

Well, I’ve always been naturally inclined towards the arts, and it was only a matter of time that I recognized the best thing I could do for myself was to use my gift in the best way possible — to create more opportunities for reflection, gratitude and beauty.

 MH: Where do you find inspiration from for your art work?

 Life and all the awesomeness of it. Ever since I can remember, I have been reflective of the human experience, from its chaos and despair to its magnificence and beauty. I’m always searching for insight and understanding and any simple event or moment can lead to the concept for my next painting.  

MH: In Islamic history, there used to be a deep appreciation for art and it would have great significance to the degree that it would make a huge impact on the architecture of mosques, government buildings and household items. Today there seems to be a lack of appreciation of art and architecture in the Muslim community. As an architect and artist, how do you feel we can revive that appreciation?

 Well, two things — First, I think the depreciation of arts in the Muslim-American community has something to do with the immigrant generation that came before us. Their focus wasn’t to bring about identity and change through arts and culture, but generally speaking, it was one of assimilating into American society, seeking higher education and creating financial opportunities for their families. Leading to my second point, I feel it’s up to our generation to use the privilege of our higher education and the roots that our parents laid down to integrate into society in such a way that we employ the arts to further refine and revive our cultural and religious identity. What does this mean in practical, tangible terms? For starters, it means that we employ and support in every way the talented professional Muslim artists who have been trailblazing the movement of bringing change through the arts for years now, even, and especially, if initially it was to just start beautifying their own personal worlds. If you need proof, just look up some of the great projects and work that some of these Artists have been creating and working on: El Seed and Karim Jab going global with their calligraphy graffiti and light calligraphy; Mustafa Davis and Ridwan Adhami — two of the most prolific photographers and talented brothers I know; Maryam Eskandari, a graduate of the Aga Khan Program in Islamic Architecture at Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology runs her own architecture business — Miim DesignsTamir Diab, a Lighting Technical Director working in Visual Effects at WETA Digital, Ltd. has worked on two of the highest grossing films in Hollywood; Australian designer Peter Gould and typographer Tarek Atrissi have created award-winning designs with high profile clientele; Mark Gonzalez and Omar Offendum — two of the most remarkable spoken word and hip-hop artists and performers of our generation, and the list goes on. This is just a tiny drop in the ocean of talented Muslim Artists that exist who are dedicating their lives to the revival and recognition of the arts.

MH: Do you feel there is a revival in appreciation of art in the Muslim community?

 Absolutely. I remember being at Islamic Conferences and being the only Artist present with a booth or an exhibit ten years ago, but now you go to these events and you have Artists headlining and giving speeches, and booths representing the creative fields all over the bazaar. My clientele population has changed drastically from parents and friends of parents commissioning me for work as a favor, to young professionals hiring me to design their marriage certificates, eid cards, or making custom paintings as gift or to be placed in their own homes, for example. Although our community has a long way to go, I’ve definitely seen a shift in mindset where art is being seen and appreciated less as commodity, and more as a service to society. If this much has changed in ten years, it’s pretty exciting to think of what the next ten years will bring on. I’m optimistic, and it’s a good time to be an Artist (though honestly — any time is a good time to be an Artist).  

MH: What types of mediums do you most enjoy working with and why?

 I love all mediums of paint — oil, acrylic and watercolor, but my absolute favorite is oil. I’ve found oil paints to require a lot more patience in the process of using them than other mediums, and each color mixes with the other — nothing is independent (at least the way I use colors). Each color informs the next one. I find there’s a lot of discovery and time for reflection instead of a focus on the end product because of this, and the painting gradually comes to reveal itself in the end. In fact, when I approach a painting, I never know what the end product will look like; I try to remain solid in my intention throughout the process and have faith that the painting will reveal itself in the end, inshaAllah.

 MH:  Your artwork can be described as contemporary. Are there elements within your artwork that draw inspiration from classical art or calligraphy?

Of course, any form of art really stems from an understanding of the traditional arts. I’d describe my work as conceptual, actually, and it stems more from my discipline and appreciation of proportion and structure because of my architectural background, and less from calligraphy, per se. When I first started painting, I drew very representational and literal works of art, and I was interested in being able to render a scene or image exactly as I saw it, and less as I experienced it. Over the years, however, my view of the world inevitably changed, and my experience in the architectural field led me to become more conceptual with my work. In other words, skill, technique and a good foundation in color theory were still vital to making a “good” painting, but a great work of art for me became one which mastered an expression of an idea from start to finish, on every level, instead of accuracy in visual depiction of a subject. If I captured my experience, then I considered my painting successful and complete (as much as one can be).  

 MH: Some say art is a way to express emotions and feelings. Has your artwork done the same for you?  How has your art allowed you to express yourself?

 Absolutely, all of my work is very personal to me, and essentially, it is my soul coming through. I learned how to express myself with colors and forms before I did with words, so painting and drawing have really just been a natural extension of my hands and my inner workings. Articulating emotions through words is an entirely different challenge. I think my work has evolved into more abstracted work particularly because of this — expression is so incredibly unique and personal, ambiguous and ever-changing, so all I can really expect is to be able to share it and hope that the viewer will bring his or her own interpretation to it. The goal isn’t for them to match their expression with mine, but to be catalyzed to express their own reaction in their own way. 

 MH: Some Muslim artists make the distinction between being a Muslim artist vs. an artist that just happens to be Muslim who is inspired by his/her faith. In your opinion is there a difference?

 That’s a really great question — there’s really no wrong or right, but my opinion is that there is a difference. I attempt to live my life with the most consciousness that I can, so I try not to do or be anything just by default. While making “Islamic art” or paintings with Arabic calligraphy is not my focus as an Artist, I would most definitely call myself a “Muslim Artist” because my inspiration stems from my spirituality and consciousness of God. Having said that, I also don’t separate my identities of being Muslim, an Artist, or even a woman — they are all inherent to who I am and I don’t feel I’ve ever had to censor or filter myself because of any one of them. Alhamdulillah, my parents raised me in an open and nurturing enough environment, and although I experienced the typical American-Pakistani-Muslim identity conflicts from time to time, I never felt the need to express one identity over the other. I was always encouraged to be close to my heart and express my own ideas of who I was.

 MH: What advice would you give to those who would like to pursue your career path?

The advice I would give to others, and myself, would be to create discipline in your life and put in the hard work to find your voice. The work that is truly interesting and has longevity is the work that is honest, and authentic, but none of it will come to surface without hard work and commitment to your art.  

 MH: Where can we learn more about you and support your work? 

You can view my creative work at nadiajart.comfacebook.com/nadiajanjuaart, or nadiajart.deviantart.com, and view my art products for sale at shopnadiajart.etsy.com. Thank you!

274. NuqtaARTS (Mobile Arts Organization)

NuqtaARTS provides mobile art classes to people of all ages. It is based in the Washington DC metropolitan area and is available to travel to your local community center. NuqtaARTS offers four courses covering water marbling, muqarnas, geometric design and latch hooking. All of these methods have been employed throughout history by various societies to convey beauty and meaning in their artistic creations.

​In Arabic calligraphy the nuqta (pronounced like Barnes and Noble’s “nook”-ta) or dot is the smallest unit of measure. It is the building block upon which whole scripts were developed. NuqtaARTS hopes to provide the building blocks for its students’ artistic creations.

To learn more about their work “like” them on Facebook or follow them on twitter @NuqtaARTS. You can also follow them on Instagram @NuqtaARTS.

 www.NuqtaARTS.com

https://www.facebook.com/NuqtaArts

269. Basel Almisshal (Founder and Creative Director,StudioBasel for Creative Solutions)

Basel Almisshal has a wide range of experience in the fields of urban development, post- war reconstruction & conflict resolution and project management gained through research, field work and teaching in the UK, the Middle East and former Yugoslavia. Basel’s entrepreneurial background makes him an expert in combining branding and marketing with creative design for outstanding results.

Basel Almisshal is also a practicing architect with expertise in conceptual design and management of residential, hospitality and commercial design projects. In his architecture, Almisshal exhibits a harmonious balance of intricately detailed forms, spaces, and elements, and reveals a true connection to the relevant physical environments that house the building projects. Almisshal strives to create spaces that have a strong sense of identity while maintaining artistic beauty, environmental friendliness and economic stability.

Basel has a BSc in Architecture from IUG in Palestine and has completed his Masters & PhD research at the University of York in the United Kingdom and intensive training in project managment, photography production & CG softwares.

Basel is also the Founder and organizer of the “Capture the Spirit of Ramadan” International Photography Competition™, (www.capturethespiritoframadan.org) a unique and unprecedented 30-day visual celebration that aims to educate and enlighten thousands of viewers around the world about the holy month of Ramadan. Basel wanted to create a platform for talented photographers to share their creativity with the world while delivering a cross-cultural and inter-faith message that captures the spirit of Ramadan through their own lenses.

In its first year, the IRPC attracted over 25,000 photographers and photography enthusiasts worldwide with over 1000 unique photo entries from forty countries.A book has been published as a tribute to this achievement and to the photographers that took part in this initiative. It is a one of a kind addition to photography book titles and the first and only photography publication solely dedicated to “Ramadan” around the world. Each photo is a visual statement of its own and when put together tell a wonderful story about Ramadan around the world.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/photography-contest-to-capture-the-spirit-of-ramadan-1.1052844

www.facebook.com/studiobasel

http://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture/art/capture-the-spirit-of-the-holy-month-on-camera

http://elanthemag.com/international-professional-ramadan-photography-competition/

And more as found in the NEWS section of the www.capturethespiritoframadan.org website.

http://www.blurb.com/books/3416476/pages/-1

253. Yuna (Musician, Malaysia)

Yuna, a singer/song-writer from Malaysia and is known for her hit single “Live Your Life” produced by Pharrell Williams.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/2012/06/07/yuna/k8opNlFLSZmIVghjEn8l3N/story.html

http://www.mtviggy.com/interviews/yuna-malaysias-sweetheart-charms-the-world/

http://www.billboard.com/news/yuna-talks-career-start-pharrell-williams-1006847752.story#/news/yuna-talks-career-start-pharrell-williams-1006847752.story

http://www.npr.org/2011/04/12/135347393/yuna-a-flawless-voice-from-malaysia

http://www.yunamusic.com/

218. Musa Syeed (Filmmaker, New York)

MUSA SYEED is an independent filmmaker and writer. His first narrative feature, VALLEY OF SAINTS, will premiere at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The film was shot on location in Kashmir during the military curfew of Fall 2010, with Nicholas Bruckman as producer. As writer/director, Syeed received the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Production Award for his screenplay, a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship, and a National Geographic All Roads grant. In anticipation of the film, he was named one of the “10 to Watch in 2010” by the Independent Magazine. The film also participated in BAVC’s Producers Institute for New Media Technologies, where Syeed developed a new media engagement project for the film.

He recently completed production on 30 MOSQUES, a feature documentary following two young American Muslims journeying to 30 mosques in 30 day across America. As part of the project, he developed an interactive storytelling platform at ITVS/Mozilla’s Living Docs Hackathon.

His other recent film BRONX PRINCESS, which follows a New York teenager reuniting with her royal father in Africa, was in competition at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam and the Berlin International Film Festival, and the film won Best Documentary Short at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. The film, co-directed with Yoni Brook, was broadcast nationally on PBS’ POV September 2009.

Syeed’s previous film A SON’S SACRIFICE, about a father and son who run a halal slaughterhouse in New York, won Best Documentary Short from the Tribeca Film Festival and the International Documentary Association Awards in 2007. The film, also co-produced with Yoni Brook, had its national broadcast in January 2008 on PBS’ Independent Lens.

He was also a co-director on THE CALLING, a documentary miniseries following young people training to become religious leaders in America. The program was broadcast on PBS’ Independent Lens in December 2010. He is also a contributor to TIME’s online video reports. Co-producing with Bassam Tariq, he covered stories on Muslim theater and controversial politicians in New York.

As a writer, Syeed also produced original theatrical work for the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. He has also worked as an educator in schools, community centers, and prisons. He was an adjunct professor of documentary production at Williams College.

Syeed was a Fulbright Fellow in Cairo, Egypt, where he focused on experimental filmmaking. He is an alumnus of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and the Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies Department.

http://www.indiewire.com/article/meet-the-2012-sundance-filmmakers-33-musa-syeed-valley-of-saints

http://musasyeed.com/

http://dearcinema.com/interview/being-able-to-take-creative-risks-is-the-most-satisfying-part-of-filmmaking-musa-syeed-director-of-valley-of-saints/4040

http://www.valleyofsaints.com/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rahilla-zafar/valley-of-saints_b_1225692.html

209. Dr.Naif Al-Mutawa (Creator, The 99)

Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa is a Kuwaiti clinical psychologist and creator of THE 99, the first group of comic superheroes born of an Islamic archetype. THE 99 has received positive attention from the world’s media. Recently, Forbes named THE 99 as one of the top 20 trends sweeping the globe and most recently, President Barack Obama praised Dr. Naif and THE 99 as perhaps the most innovative of the thousands of new entrepreneurs viewed by his Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship.

http://www.al-mutawa.com/

http://www.the99.org/

http://www.ted.com/talks/naif_al_mutawa_superheroes_inspired_by_islam.html

187. Seema S. Sahin (Founder/Designer, Modern Mary)

Modern Mary, established by Seema S. Sahin in 2008, is a fashion brand for the modern woman.  Modern Mary’s designs are inspired by the beauty of modesty. Our unique aesthetic vision captures the essence of modesty without compromising style. Seema believes that fashion and modesty are not opposing forces. When harmonized they create beautiful silhouettes that are both feminine and modern. Our collection speaks to all women looking for feminine, trendy, and unique designs.

Modern Mary’s boutique opened its doors to the public in 2010 in the Tyson’s Corner area in Northern Virginia. The boutique’s modern and high end appeal reflects the same values as our brand, Modern Mary. The boutique offers our customers an exclusive shopping experience without compromise to privacy and comfort. Modern Mary’s full collection can be viewed at the boutique by appointment only.

8300 Old Courthouse Rd, suite 231
Vienna, VA 22182

http://www.modernmary.com/