297. Haseeb Hosein (Captain, Boston Police)


As Boston police Captain Haseeb Hosein, a former science teacher and a firm believer in the power of reading, assumes leadership in Mattapan as the department’s first Muslim captain, he plans to have his officers walking not only the streets, but school hallways.

“I want my guys to go into the schools and spend 30 minutes and read” with a child, said Hosein, 52, who received his captain’s shield Wednesday in a ceremony at police headquarters. “I hate that police officers are always the bad guy. We should be an asset.”


283. Ehab Sadeek (Bagel Shop Owner, Boston)



Ehab Sadeek, an Egyptian Muslim American decided to give 100-percent of the profits from his retail bagel business to the One Fund Boston, will keep it up until the last victim of the Boston Marathon bombing (that occurred April 15, 2013) is out of the hospital.


MH Exclusive: Nadia Janjua

NJ Profile Pic

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!

275. Shaz Kaiseruddin (CEO and Creative Director, American Hijab Design Contest)

The fashion world is getting a lesson in innovation from Islam.

By its very nature, fashion is about interpreting looks from one culture or lifestyle and mixing them with another. Towards that end, Chicago human rights attorney and fashionista Shaz Kaiseruddin may be on to something big by tapping into a $96 billion industry that is covered chic–hijab.

Shaz is spearheading a national contest for aspiring and established designers which will involve them creating their own interpretation of what her company refers to as American Hijab.  She wants to dispel myths while at the same time showcasing unique fashions that have their roots in centuries old tradition but are as modern and hot as looks seen on the fashion streets of New York, London, Paris and Los Angeles.  Set to launch in November, the American Hijab Design Contest will offer widespread exposure and opportunity for designers to interpret this centuries old form of dress any way they can possibly imagine. And the contest will be open to everyone in the US. Contestants need not be a designer or in design school.

Covered chic has been seen among various celebrities (Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Madonna, Angelina Jolie among others) and other high profile women in recent years, but its popularity among mainstream consumers appears to be on the rise as well.  “Hijabi” hit the runways of the recent New York Fashion Week, which featured a number of “hijab friendly” looks for winter, including those of well known designer Nzinga Knight. “More and more we are seeing covered chic looks on the streets of major cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas and Atlanta,” says Shaz.  “Hijab fashion draws from a forward thinking clientele.

There are many American women, including many Muslims, who wish to wear this style and comprise a lucrative market.  American trends tend to spread quickly to other countries, thus expanding that market.  And we hope that the more commonplace covered chic images become, and the more such images spread through pop culture, the less pressure all women, Muslim or not, will feel to wear clothing they are not comfortable with.”
Shaz has received sound advice and encouragement for the contest from friends, business colleagues, and even some of the industry’s top young designers, including Jeffrey Sebelia, winner of Project Runway’s third season, and Alexis Bittar, recipient of the 2010 CFDA Accessory Designer of the Year award.  She hopes to attract sponsors and celebrity participation, possibly as judges.
What really drove home the idea for a large scale design contest happened after a friend who is blond with blue eyes converted to Islam and began to wear hijab.  “Suddenly, the first question from people meeting her was ‘where are you from?'”, says Shaz.  “My friend has that All-American, surfer girl look, but the head scarf immediately conjured up misguided impressions, because it is seen as something foreign to America.  I’d like to help change that.  And instead of taking a more serious approach, I thought we could have fun with it by involving fashion.”
Please take a look at the American Hijab Design Contest – this is an idea born from one woman’s powerful connections between high fashion and universal acceptance of all cultures and religions.