Muslims In The West, Cool Photo JournalTuesday, August 16, 2011 Read more → interviews, Link-Love, muslim blogs, photography In the name of God, entirely Compassionate, especially Merciful | Peace be with you
Muslim photographer, Yasemin Kanar (Photo: Sana Ullah)
When you want to know about real Muslim lifestyles, the blogosphere is one of the best sources for personal stories. Since news only talks about depressing happenings, we need to show the majority of passionate and creative Muslims through art and photography.
I got in touch with Adam Sahib, founder of Muslims In The West, to ask why his photo blog is representin' a new image of Muslim generations.
As-salam`alaykum Adam. Firstly, why did you create Muslims In The West and what are your aims for it?
"I created the site last August with the aim to shine a positive light on Muslims, as opposed to all the negativity received in the media. I did not publicly release it until essentially the New Year (2011). Ideally, we plan on reaching thousands of Muslims and non-Muslims worldwide. We believe it is incumbent that Muslims work hard to remove the existing fear that some may be feeling by showing who they really are.
Furthermore, we are hoping to inspire both Muslims and non-Muslims through photography. This project is definitely open as we are seeking people to submit pictures. I don't want this to be MY project; rather, a project we can all enjoy and work on together insha'Allah (God willing)."
What inspired you to create Muslims In The West and whom have you featured?
"I was inspired to create this photo journal from two different angles. Firstly, I love taking pictures but I felt that there wasn't a higher level purpose to my pictures. Once I thought of the idea I could just visualize how wonderful it could be with contributions and unique images. We’re only beginning and would love for it to grow some more. We have featured people from all backgrounds and ages to show the beautiful diversity within our community. We get inspired daily by the great submissions that come in."
The blog includes some of the world's most iconic and under-the-radar Muslims from organic produce man Fahim Alwan, photographer-in-residence Yasin Dusoruth, fashion designer Gareth Bryant (Khaleeji Clothing) and professional basketball hopeful Mouctar Diaby.
You mentioned working with your wife earlier - who else is on the team and is this a full time job?
"My wife, Wafiyyah Ali, is a main component on the team alongside me as we work back and forth depending on who has more time. I would also like to mention my cousin Amir who has helped tremendously with the website layout and design. Furthermore, all team photographers and people featured should be mentioned, in particular Yasin Dusoruth who has been our main photographic contributor.
Outside of the photo journal, I teach high school math. Wafiyyah has just finished teacher's college which gives us the opportunity to have all our holidays together insha'Allah!"
On your site you're taking photo submissions. What are you looking for and how can viewers contribute?
"The photo journal is pretty simple. We attempt to post a new picture at least every two days.
Anyone can submit a picture as long as the quality is good and the photo is unique. We have a policy of not refusing any submissions unless the photos are offensive or not in line with the aims and objectives of the site."
Bebe Sahib, 52 years old, is mother to Adam Sahib and grandmother to 5. Bebe works as a Business Solution Specialist at CIBC in Hamilton, Ontario and immigrated from Guyana to Canada in 1975. Bebe is also the first female president of the Canadian Indo Caribbean Association.
What has the reaction been so far from both Muslims and other faiths/communities?
"Everyone who has seen the site has loved it. Two reactions have really made me happy so far. One is to see the Muslim youth so excited and proud to see the pictures of peers and getting involved as well by shareing the site. The second is to see non-Muslims' (as well as some Muslims) beginning to realize how truly diverse the Muslim community is here in North America as well as in Europe."
We recently featured the diverse blogs My Best Friend Is Muslim’ and ‘Muslims Wearing Things’ for their innovative stories. Is Muslims In The West only a 'western' representation?
"Both of those sites are wonderful, may Allah reward those involved tremendously. MITW is quite different in that we only focus on Muslims located specifically in what is historically considered the “West”, as the narrative here is unique for Muslims as opposed to in other traditionally Muslim countries.
Additionally, we do not repost or take photos from other websites. All of our pictures are copyrighted and published with the specific permission of those individuals who shot them. Our website also shows a range of Muslims in every possible avenue not restricted to age or profession. It's not limited to a certain theme or story. We aim to spread our vision through a series of intimate portraits of Muslims throughout the Western lands."
That's an amazing vision. MUSLIMNESS viewers are global and interested in taking a more active role for implementing a similar vision. What top 3 pieces of advice (nasiha) would you give to budding photographers and bloggers?
1) Keep on reminding yourself to do it for Allah and absolutely no other purpose.
2) Love what you're doing.
3) Observe what other Muslims or non-Muslims are doing in your area of interest.
Shukran, thank you Adam and team, great to see your work and we wish it greater success insha'Allah.
Images: Muslims In The West ©
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