MOCAfest Artists


Oud player

Oud player,

ABDELKADER SAADOUN comes from Khemis Miliana (Algeria), a few miles away from Wahran, the birth place of RAI. He started to play RAI music in his home country, accompanied by accordion, guitar, drum kit, bass and percussion. An accomplished singer and musician, he led a band, which performed at many venues and festivals. Now he is based in Greenwich (South East London).

RAI originates from traditional Algerian music (Chaabi, Kabil, and Chawi) and also encompasses Pop, Jazz, Flamenco, Funk, Rock, Reggae, Fusion, and Blues. Based on strong rhythms, it is a very dynamic and danceable music. It has become the most popular music in North Africa and the Arab world; the music of today¹s generation. Its popularity has quickly spread to neighbouring countries: Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt and is actually very popular in the Gulf States. Since France has a large Magrebian population, RAI music is now part of the French culture.

He graduIn 1988 SAADOUN moved to the UK, and in 1994 he formed a second Rai band in London. SAADOUN's current outfit is made up of nine musicians from different background using traditional instruments such as Mandole, Zourna, Hadjoudj & North African percussion combined with European instruments including Brass, Keyboard, Piano, Bass guitar, Viola, Banjo, Cello, Drums and Electric Guitars. He is a charismatic performer, able to enliven any audience with his infectious rhythms and dynamic stage personality.

Relationship Manager, Diversity in Arts Practice

Relationship Manager, Diversity in Arts Practice,

Abid Hussain is a Relationship Manager specialising in Diversity working at Arts Council England, the national development agency for the arts. Abid leads on the delivery of the Creative Case for Diversity agenda working across the performing and visual arts and within an arts development capacity.

He jointly led on the development of the internationally acclaimed Arts and Islam programme a creative platform exploring the relationship between arts practice, policy and polemic delivering seminars, workshops, critical debates and artistic interventions across the UK, USA, Denmark, Sweden, Spain and most recently South Africa as part of the National Arts Festival.

Abid recently spent six months working at Birmingham based Soul City Arts in a strategic development capacity as well as undertaking an extensive piece of research exploring South Asian philanthropic giving to the arts and creative sector.

A marketing graduate with a Chartered Institute of Marketing Diploma in Arts Marketing, Abid has served as the chair of the Arts Council's Black Workers Group and in an advisory role for both the British Council and the Institute for Community Cohesion. He currently serves on the leadership group for the Mosaic Network an initiative set up by HRH the Prince of Wales to empower young people in disadvantaged communities through mentoring and the steering group for the Wisdom Project at Eton College in Windsor. Abid is the vice-chair of the governing body at Anderton Park School in Birmingham, one of the city’s largest and most diverse primary schools.



Despite completing of the education as a mechanical technician in 1989 and an ensuing career in mechanical engineering, Ahmed Krausen felt challenged and inspired to learn and pursue the art of photography. His artistic angle has been inspired by the position as a European Muslim convert. Therefore, starting in 1997, Ahmed began his photographic project "Islam in Europe". The aim of Ahmed´s work is to show the diversity of Islamic expressions and how Islam is interpreted in the physical space by European Muslims. This includes not only mosque architecture, but also Muslim graveyards, Muslim rap, graffiti, poetry, calligraphy and more. Another important aspect for of Ahmed´s work is highlighting Islam’s relationship to the environment with an emphasis on "green" mosques. In addition, the work also highlights the relationship between European and Islamic literature.

He is the Secretary General of the Party of Justice and Development (PJD), which came first in legislative elections of 25 November 2011 with 107 seats. He has been member of Parliament for four terms and was elected in 2008 as Secretary General of the Party of Justice and Development in replacement of Saad Eddine El Othmani. The Head of Government, who joined Shabiba Islamiya Movement in1976, was President of the Reform and Renewal Movement and ofthe National Council of the PJD. He was also editor of "AI Islah", "Arraya" and "Attajdeed" newspapers. Abdelilah Benkirane is also a member of the High Council of education and former member of the special education-training commission.

The purpose of the project is to portray the multifaceted, open and peaceful manifestation of Islam in Europe.

Ahmed Krausen´s work was successfully displayed in Denmark, Germany, at El.Sawy Culture Wheel, Cairo, Egypt (2008) and at Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization United Arab Emirates with the title "Dunya - Glimpses of Muslim Life in Europe". The project is also official affiliate to "the Pluralism Project" at the Harvard University.

Ahmed Krausen is associate partner of the exhibition project "Islam its Also Our History" - Fourteen centuries of interaction between Europe and the Muslim World in Brussels.

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Aida Begić was born in Sarajevo in 1976. She graduated directing at Sarajevo Academy of Performing Arts. Her graduation film First Death Experience was presented at The Cinefondation Official Selection of 2001 Cannes Film Festival and won numerous awards at festivals worldwide. In 2003 she wrote and directed her second short film North Went Mad. Her debut feature film Snow was part of L'Atelier of Cannes Film Festival 2005 and had premiere at Cannes 2008 – Semaine de la critique where the film won the Grand Prix and after that more then 20 festival awards all around the world. Snow was nominated for European Academy Award – Discovery Section.

Aida Begić is teaching directing at The Academy of Performing Arts Sarajevo and has directed numerous documentaries, commercials, videos and promotional films.

In 2009 she founded an independent production company FILM HOUSE. In 2010 she wrote and directed short fiction Otel(o) as part of omnibus Unutma Beni Istanbul.

She is included in Phaidon's 'Take 100: The Future of Film: 100 New Directors' book 2010, and she is member of SACD, France.

Her second feature film DJECA (Children of Sarajevo) premiered in Un Certain Regard – Official Selection of the Cannes Film Festival 2012 where it won Special Distinction of the Jury after which film continued to win awards at festivals around the world.

Visual Artist

Visual Artist,

Aïdah Aliyah Rasheed is a visual artist and educator. Her work to date includes photography, video, mixed media, sculpture, and installation. Her work explores ideas of history, family & communal relationships, heritage, and inheritance. Rasheed’s most recent project has been researching and examining her familial connection to the history of Muslims in America. She received her BFA from Morgan State University in 2008 and her MFA from California College of the Arts this in May 2013. She currently resides in Oakland, CA, USA.

Musician / Guitarist

Musician / Guitarist,

Andres Garcia was born in 1976, in Granada (Spain), where he studied Guitar at the "Conservatorio Superior de Musica Victoria Eugenia", and Music Education at the "Facultad de Ciencias de la Educacion" (University of Granada). After he finished his studies, he worked in Spain as a music producer and arranger.

In 2001 he moved to London with the purpose of enriching his musical experiences and to focus on his guitar based music.

Andres now is playing flamenco and electric guitar with Abdelkader Saadoun band.

Guitarist / Musician

Guitarist / Musician,
Islamic Republic of Pakistan 

Asif Sinan is a quintessential “World Musician” from Pakistan who has been able to bring together the genres of Jazz, Indian Classical and Sufi Music. He has also gained recognition for making his guitar sound like a sitar.

Sinan is a summa cum laude music graduate as well as an alumni of the US State Department’s prestigious International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP). He recently toured 9 cities in the US performing as well as giving talks about Pakistan, its culture and music. Sinan has also collaborated with numerous musicians from Germany, USA and India. He is also the first Pakistani artist to be invited to perform at the German Music Festival 2013 attended by 150,000 people.

Sinan is increasingly being chosen and invited to represent Pakistan’s music on the international stage for he understands the music of both the East and West and is also a superb live performer, composer and arranger.

Visual Arts
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Visual Arts,
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Elvira studied Fine Arts and Graphic Design at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia.

Elvira is an award-winning graphic designer who, over the last 15-years, has worked with full-service creative agencies. She has received silver, gold, or grand award at the NO LIMIT, Sarajevo Advertising Festival.

Most people who know Elvira say that she's a perfectionist. She is incredibly passionate about the craft of graphic design and cutting-edge website development techniques.

Also an artist, Elvira has participated in over 20 group and solo exhibitions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Serbia and Turkey.

She is a co-Founder and an Art Director at Islamic Arts Magazine, the leading online magazine devoted to Islamic art.

Visual Artist

Visual Artist,

In an impressive artistic career spanning over a quarter of a century, Fatimah Chik has earned a reputation as one of Malaysia’s more significant middle-generation artists. Trained initially as a textile designer at the Mara School of Art and Design in Kuala Lumpur, during the late 1960s, she began her initial batik experiments during the mid-1970s. Discovering the rich, symbolic textile traditions of the Southeast Asian region, she attempted to transplant the traditional craft-oriented influences onto new art forms, more suited to the contemporary fine art contexts. By combining the techniques and aesthetic principles of painting and craft, forging an entirely new relationship between the two, she has truly put her stamp on Malaysian art.

Her abstract art works are richly textured, ornate and decorative. They reveal structured, compositional formats derived from the Southeast Asian region’s ancient triangular gunungan motif and also the symbolic mandala configuration. Employing the traditional printing blocks used in the age-old batik printing technique, complex waxing and denying processes, as well as meticulous hand-colored finishing, she has developed a unique style of abstract painting that is clearly recognizable today as being all her own.



A trilingual Malaysian, Jamal Raslan is a poet who is a great example of the conundrum that is the current Malaysian youth – modern, exposed; open but yet struggling to find a sense of belonging in the identity crisis that rocks every English-speaking Malay Muslim. Equally at home conversing & thinking in Bahasa Melayu & English, he used to write poetry exclusively in Bahasa Melayu as he didn’t think he has an English writing “voice”, until Youtube introduced him to spoken word.

Heavily inspired by spoken word poets around the world, from slam poets to Def Poetry to the articulate & emotive African poets at Poet’s Passport in Cyberjaya, he writes about the challenges that the country & its people face in its pursuit for progress & Wawasan 2020 in a way that he hopes will one day help form a unique “voice” that is Malaysian spoken word.

He is a along time crew member and resident emcee for the Poet's Passport and very active in the local poetry scene. He won the first ever slam he participated back in May 2010 and has never looked back since.

He has spoken at the TEDxKL in 2011 and TEDxKL 2012, the only repeat speaker in TEDxKL's recent history. He's also performed at the Creativity & The Spiritual Path 2012 in KL, and performed for the Impact Forum in Singapore.

He released his first EP 'the Word.' at the 2012 Georgetown Literary Festival last November.

After impressing WIEF with his performance and interpretation of Rumi in their 'Translations' event in the recently concluded Cooler Lumpur Festival in KL, he will be making his first appearance on European soil at WIEF's MOCAfest, bringing what he hopes to be an early voice of Malaysian spoken word to the world.

Star / Musician

Star / Musician,

The passion for music has been inherent in Joel Cerdor since childhood. Having learnt classical guitar through his teenage years from his father he acquired a keen interest in traditional stringed instruments. Over the past 8 years he has studied under Pooya Mehmanpazir and Ostad Reza Ghassemi learning Persian music theory, repertoire (Radif) and Setar (stringed lute) techniques.

He is tRecently completing a Bachelor of Creative Arts using the Setar and Persian music as his main form of expression he has collaborated with many different artists from different disciplinary and cultural backgrounds such as dance, film and music.

He has since played extensively with traditional Persian ensembles and solo internationally. Being actively involved within the Persian community in Australia and Malaysia, he has had the opportunity to play at cultural events such as Mehrgan and Rumi celebrations. Now his main focus is on free improvisation and meditation within the spirit and feeling of Persian music.

Singer / Musician

Singer / Musician,

Kilema is a master of the Marovany, Kabosy and Katsà (native instruments) and carries the magical, rhythmic soul of Madagascar wherever he goes.

Born in Toliara (Southern Madagascar), he began playing with local bands and building rustic instruments at the age of 12.

He went “ pro” as a vocalist, composer and multi-instrumentalist, performing with the likes of the Justin Vali Trio under the aegis of Peter Gabriel´s Real World label (Main womad festivals between 1993-1997).

Kilema forms his own band in 1997 and his first solo album “ Ka Malisa” (Iris Music/Harmonia Mundi) was released in 1999 , “ Lavi-Tany”(Ventilador Music) in 2004 and ”Mena” in March 2008 by Coast to Coast /Snail Records.

He now resides in Encinarejo-Cordoba, Spain and regularly tours with his brother Nesta and Spanish musicians, Manuel Luque and José Salgado, spreading good vibes and love with their infectious and joyful music.

Main womad stages with the Justin Vali Trio: Australia, New Zealand, Reading, Moers Jazz Festival, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Woodstock 25th Anniversary, Japan, etc…

The sunny island Madagascar, off the east coast of Africa nurtures amazing music!

Poet / Spoken Word

Poet / Spoken Word,

Mark Gonzales is a social entrepreneur and impact speaker who specialises in social wellness. Drawing from years of global research in human development and idea design, he creates innovative solutions that cultivate the future of healing.

His clientele spans fourteen countries & includes Stanford University, TED(x), the United Nations, and the Qatar Foundation. Virtual introductions to his work are best found via twitter: @WageBeauty.

Graffiti Artist
United Kingdom

Graffiti Artist,
United Kingdom

Mohammed Ali has been creating vast street-art murals, installations and arts experiences around the world for over a decade. A winner of the prestigious ITV South Bank Award in 2009, Mohammed actively challenges the oft-heard term ‘clash of civilizations’, with his fusion of street-art and Islamic script, along with conscious messages that speak to people of different faith traditions.

Whilst being a graffiti-artist since the late 80's, his art has now focused on the message as opposed to expressing the identity of the artist, as can be seen with much of graffiti-art today.

He describes his work as, ‘taking the best of both worlds’, inspired by the graffiti art of the 80's while drawing on the inspiration of his faith as a Muslim, and bringing back to the forefront principles that are fading away from our modern societies. This led to him speaking at the first TEDx event to take place at the Vatican in Rome, the first of its kind dealing in religious freedoms in the 21st century.

Whilst painting murals across the world in cities, including Dubai, Melbourne, Muscat and New York, Mohammed is the founder and artistic director of Soul City Arts, a cutting edge organization which brings together artists across various spectrums, exploring themes of spirituality and the urban space.

His mulch-disciplinary practice of video, sounds, and animation that he explored whilst working in the video-games industry, he draws upon to engage the viewer into the art and more recently has delivered rich immersive experiences of live painting, digital projections and atmospheric vocals and poetry in theatres and public spaces. He has brought together artists from around the world to create art that connects with the soul.

Government Investors

Government Investors,

MyCreative Ventures Sdn. Bhd. (“MyCreative”) – sponsor

MYCREATIVE is a a government investment arm to spur Malaysia’s creative industry via strategic and innovative funding in a form of equity or debt investments. MyCreative, a wholly owned Company by the Minister of Finance Incorporated, invests in potential and viable Malaysian creative companies in achieving the following:

a) to boost the attractiveness of Malaysia’s creative industry measurable by job creation;

b) to increase gross income from Malaysia’s creative industry to significantly contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Products; and

c) to elevate the status of Malaysia’s creative industry via public awareness and social impact.

To enforce such aspiration, MyCreative presents to you the works of the following artists:

Husin Hourmain – Visual artist - Malaysia

Born in 1963, Husin was encouraged by his father, a journalist and lasting influence on his life, to study graphic design at the Malaysia Institute of Art in 1982. Until 2001 he worked in Advertising as an Art Director, but subsequently quit to concentrate on his dream of being a full time painter. In 2003 he restarted his life as it were as Husin Hourmain, the fine artist.

Husin had witnessed a gallery rejecting a painting by one of his peers for the inclusion of Jawi (Malaysianised Arabic Lettering), and advised the artist to erase the Islamic overtone for fear the work would be unsalable. This did not sit well with the religious Husin. He objected to the rejection of the Islamic influence, especially given the contemporary Islamic setting of modern Malaysian. Husin felt there was a growing awareness of religion amongst the younger generation of Malaysians, and a desire to balance tradition with the modern way of life in the twenty-first century. Husin duly immersed himself in the study of Jawi calligraphy. As the Malay race gain ever increasing cultural and economic relevance so the popularity of contemporary calligraphic paintings has demonstrably risen.

Md Fadli Yusoff – Visual artist - Malaysia

Born in Kelantan, Malaysia in 1974 and went on to study fine art at UITM under the highly respected Malaysian figurative artist Amron Omar. Fadli has achieved great critical success, not least as a recipient of major art awards including the 1999 Juror’s Choice Award in the Philip Morris Art Awards Malaysia, third place in the Formula Malaysia Art Award in 2000 and the Grand Prize in 2004’s Kijang Award from Bank Negara Malaysia.

Early works were characterised by his skill as a figurative painter. This changed however just prior to his graduation from UITM in 1996 when he read a book by the United Ullama Council of South Africa, The Ruling on Photography based on Islamic Law according to Fatwa Issue. Fadli felt he was contravening the teachings of Islam by producing realistic figures and spent the next eleven years devoting his practice to landscapes and abstract subjects. The draw of his true calling as a figurative artist proved too great and, following further research on the subject, 2007 marked his return to realism. Fadli’s return to realism illustrates a confidence on his part and a desire to understand the precincts of his identity as a Malay-Muslim in a modern society.

Mohd Noor Mahmud – Visual artist - Malaysia

Born in 1964 in Kelantan, Malaysia, Mohd Noor graduated with a BA in Fine Art from Universiti Teknologi Mara in 1988 before obtaining a Master’s degree from Leicester in 1996. Mohd Noor has exhibited extensively including at the National Art Gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Sarawak State Museum, Sabah Art Gallery, Maybank Gallery, American Embassy and Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur and won the third prize in the “Pemandangan Malaysia” competition which was held by Kontena Malaysia in 1989.

Mohd Noor’s artistic practice is closely linked to the craft conventions and local industry of Kelantan, Malaysia. Studying Mohd Noor’s works opens a discussion about the fusion of traditional symbols and motifs in a highly contemporary presentation, and the resultant contradiction of tradition that appears. The artist feels that it is this paradox, coupled with a thorough understanding of the formal aspects of technique that enable him to produce truly original works. Indeed the weight attached to technique and skill is evident from the stunning attention to detail and patient layering processes Mohd Noor diligently applies in his practice.

Suhaimi Fadzir – Visual artist - Malaysia

Suhaimi has exhibited internationally in several solo and group shows, among them The Dublin Biennale where he won the Dublin Biennial Award of Excellence in 2012, the prestigious 12th and 13th Venice Biennale (Architecture), Venice, Italy in 2010 and 2012, as well as alongside photographer Ansel Adams in America and was granted the Art Saint Louis Residency programs in the USA. His work has been extensively collected in public and private collections in Malaysia, Korea, Ireland, China, USA, Indonesia, Singapore, UK, Japan, Philippine, Spain, Uzbekistan, Germany and Mexico.

Suhaimi trained as an architect in the 1980’s at the Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri; despite this he has always viewed himself foremost as an artist. Personifying a modern nomad, Suhaimi, who is from Perak, Malaysia, maintains two studios, one in Malaysia and one in America. His constant shift and cultural receptiveness between the two countries offers him unique insights into local social themes, be they environmental, political or historical, and allows him to merge them with Western art, architecture, and Abstract Expressionist and pop icon references. In his own words, travel creates discourse and discussion that enhances his understanding of his subject and audience that help him to produce work that is highly relatable and entertaining yet filled with cultural resonance.

2012 saw Suhaimi being awarded a prestigious Smithsonian Fellowship nomination for his in depth research on the Orang Asli of Malaysia, and comparisons between indigenous tribes here in Malaysia and in Africa.

West Africa

West Africa

Due to his dexterity and elegance in impassioned playing of the kora, N’Faly Kouyaté became known as the "Jimi Hendrix of the kora".

In addition to various projects and solo performances, he became a member of Peter Gabriel's group Afro Celt Sound System and the Leader of his own band Dunyakan. Already in 1999, his projects achieved a Golden Record and in 1999 and 2001 they were even nominated for the Grammy Award.

In 2011, he won the 'Guinée Music Award', was nominated for the 'Octaves de la Musique 2012' in Belgium, one of the winners of 'Le Rêve Africain' in Paris 2011 .

Now, Kouyaté is working on a new album and a world tour on the occasion of his 20th anniversary of international career in 2016.

As the son of the famous “Konkoba” Kabinet Kouyaté from Guinea, he was traditionally brought up as a Djeli (Griot), an ambassador of the Mandingo culture. Thus, he stands in line with professional musicians who have for centuries been an indispensable part of West African culture.

As a griot (or “guardian of the culture”) N’Faly Kouyaté has taken on the responsibility of preserving the cultural heritage of artists, and in particular the musical traditions of West Africa. His aim is to develop a deeper understanding of these traditions and, above all, to share his passion for his own history and musical legacy.

So he founded in 1996 the non-profit organisation Namunkanda - „The Defense of Culture”, which promotes a harmonious relation between all cultures, the preservation of their ancient traditions as well as the knowledge about the Mandingo culture. In 2010, he re-organized his organization and founded an office in Brussels under the name NAMUN Group.

„As a musician, I feel a responsibility to capture my history and culture for the younger generation.” (N'Faly Kouyaté, 2010).

Visual Artist

Visual Artist,

Nadia Janjua is an emerging Artist, practicing Architect, and Art Educator based in the Washington, D.C. area. Her passion to beautify the world with her hands, combined with her fascination of design and technology led her to startup an art and design-based business in 2011, called Nadia J Art.

Her art work is inspired by her deeply spiritual and emotional connection to her faith, as well as the experiences of her life's journey. Ever since she can remember, Nadia has been reflective of the human experience -- from its chaos and despair, to its magnificence and beauty. It is this search for insight and understanding of any moment or event that has led to an infinite source of inspiration for her creative works.

Nadia has been exhibiting her work professionally throughout the United States over the past ten years, and more recently, internationally. She has had numerous works commissioned by private collectors and contributes her art annually to charity events.

Afro/Hip Hop

Afro/Hip Hop,

Native Sun is a London based duo consisting of bilingual rapper Mohammed Yahya, born in Mozambique, South East Africa and singer-song writer Sarina Leah born in London with Caribbean roots.

Joining forces in 2010 Native Sun was born fusing Hip Hop and African rhythms with the aim of promoting a positive message of Universal Peace, Equality, Social Justice and Environmental Change.

Both artists over the years have received a great deal of publicity through collaborations on a variety of compilation CDs, Albums, International Tours across Europe, Africa and U.S, features of on a wide range of publications as well as TV appearances from UK based TV Channels such as BBC and ITV to Channels across Europe.

Now together, Native Sun's sweet melodies fuse addictive head bouncing Hip Hop undertones, conscious bilingual lyrics and catchy hooks perfect for a climate in need of an uplifting message.

Visual Artist / Film

Visual Artist / Film,

As a child of a bi-cultural family based in Germany, Nilgün Akıncı ever since felt the affinity for the interplay of the familiar and the unknown which shaped her life. 25 years old, she grew up in Cologne and studied Asian Studies in Bonn.

Now she lives in Berlin and is doing her master's degree in Intercultural Communication Studies with focus on gender issues at the European University Viadrina. After an excursion into journalism at the university radio station and working as a freelance author for the multicultural "Gazelle Magazin", she acquired a deep view inside in the making of TV, film and visual storytelling at the German broadcasting channel WDR as an assistant. Working as a freelance photographer and videographer she gains experience in different set ups.

Her projects, like the video installation called "Europa's Daughters" and most of her photo series, deal with archetypes of the collective unconsciousness and question gender stereotypes. Her inspiration derives from strong individualistic characters of history, nature, mythologies about it and the divine revelation.

While her videos are mostly aimed for society and intent to rethink over patterns, her photographs are gates to other worlds which inspire to dream.



Noor Iskandar is a multidisciplinary artist based in Singapore, currently in his final year at Nanyang Technological University, School of Art, Design and Media. He is pursuing his Bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in Photography and Digital Imaging. Iskandar has participated as a visual artist in both local shows such as Marketplace of Creative Arts: Singapore Leg at Asian Civilisation Museum in 2011 and for international circuit, the prestigious Pingyao International Photography Festival and the Belfast Photo Festival in 2012.

Noor Iskandar sees art as a philosophical investigation, dealing with social and cultural issues that are laden with complexities and perceptions- of judgements and prejudice. Recognizing the power of this medium, he holds dearly to his ambition of using his craft as an avenue to identify, express and address vital issues especially those dear within his epistemology. As a visual artist who has an overpouring ardour for poetry and emotional overlay, the undercurrents of his works reflect these bouts of emotions and lyrical balladry; most times shrouded with clouds of melancholia as he contemplates into the frailty and deficiencies of our identity and memories; of living itself. Muslim imageries and icons such as the religious garbs are often his recurring subjects, in externalizing the conflict and confusion stirred within him. In engaging issues that may be contentious, he has embarked on a deep introspection and inquiry; like seeking solace and dialectical debate through these problematic social crises.

Visual Arts - Digital Calligraphy

Visual Arts - Digital Calligraphy,

Illm’s creative style of writing and developing letterforms are experiments of fusing calligraphy and typography with classical Arabic scripts and with the art of tagging and lettering in the hip-hop culture.

The artwork has many sides to it, with the main themes being spirituality and politics. The purpose of the art is to inform, highlight and remind Muslims as non-Muslims alike about certain concepts within Islam. A humble attempt to make the visuals form a starting point for enlightenment, education and conversation for the betterment of society as a whole. The lighter side is more playful with Middle Eastern and Western cultural references.

Illlm’s graffiti inspired Arabic work has been published in the book Arabic Graffiti, which was an international success and the standard work on this topic. The work was also part of the similar titled exhibition at the Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin (Germany).

Musician (Sitar)

Musician (Sitar),

Rakae Jamil has been involved in music since the age of 12 when he started learning the sitar. He completed his undergraduate studies in Musicology from the National College of the Arts and is both a sitarist and vocalist.

He composed music for a compilation of Allama Iqbal’s poetry, and has performed in Coke Studio season 2 with Noori, for which he is the band’s session sitarist and keyboard player, and has performed live with Noori throughout Pakistan and also traveled with them on a tour of the US titled "Center Stage".

He was also a part of the music ensemble for a theater troupe that performed at the Shakespeare's Globe Festival in London in 2012. He has given live solo performances and workshops at University of Chicago, and participated in the Jungle Book Days initiative by performing at the Budlong Woods Public Library in Chicago. He is now currently a lecturer at the Musicology department, University of Punjab in Lahore.

Musician/ percussionist

Musician/ percussionist,

Rav is one of Asia’s foremost percussionists and leads the multi award winning world music group The Diplomats of Drum. He is recognised by his colourful Turbans, irrepressible creativity, tremendous clarity and exciting rhythmic improvisation added to his out-of-the-box playing style and absolutely crazy antics on stage. Outside of Australia, he is recognized as arguably one of the most creative and skilful didgeridoo players to have graced the performing arts scene.

Rav is a proponent of global fusion and the usage of music, especially drums to promote Love, Peace, Happiness & Unity, and that is the same powerful message of hope that his multi-racial band of brothers share. Why drums? Rav has this to say “There's something about a drum. It's nearly impossible to walk past one and resist the urge to hit it. It's instinctual. It's natural. It's primal. It doesn't matter if you've been playing for years or if you're just getting started—when you play a drum, it instantly becomes one of the best parts of your life.”

He graduWhen not touring with DOD, he plays with a myriad of musicians & world renowned DJs, records for TV, Films & videogames, designs and facilitates community drum circles and teaches percussion around the world.

United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Fast forward to the future, and then begin to rewind to the past, it will then be all about the memories, reflecting the moments that have passed. Capturing them in a visual form, in pictures to re-tell a story is what makes photography special to Rooful Ali. Rooful’s style is a creative, unobtrusive documentary style of photography all about 'capturing moments, creating memories'.

He has built up a unique collection of images; faces and places, celebrating culture, colours and communities. Inspired by faith and the everyday spirit of people encountered when photographing events, weddings and fashion assignments, this growing collection will become a visual 'future history', God willing. Look out for the inspiring images, from the serious to the fun, spanning genders, generations, depicting diversity and the spirit of our times.

He is proud to be a Chartered Accountant, defying the potential stereotype that Accountants are not creative by nature. We hope you will

Visual Artist

Visual Artist,

As a first generation American, I was quickly confronted by my layered identity as a woman, a Pakistani, a Muslim, an American, and an Artist within a global culture that stresses conformity within narrowly defined spheres of identity. I spent years trying and failing to find myself within these little boxes. It was an impossible task, because our identities operate on a spectrum, with blurred and permeable boundaries that speak not to a divided and separate experience, but to a common humanity.

When I paint, I take ideas, symbols, and individuals who are subject to reductive categorizations and create images that are instead expansive, positive, and promote connection. I often work with polarities - the beautiful and the absurd, the ancient and the modern, the spiritual and the superficial - in my attempts to create iconic and accessible imagery.

Much of my work has focused on American Muslim women. Modern treatment of Muslim subject matter in media, culture, and politics often perpetuates the perception of Muslims as an entirely homogenous, villainous “other,” with the women as a voiceless, powerless, oppressed group at the bottom tier of society.

My portraits paint a different, far more colorful, image of Muslim women. My subjects are all American, and embody their blended cultures, their unique heritage, and their singularity.

The portraits are images of American Muslim women that are not defined or confined by a xenophobic and misogynistic narrative - they are beautiful, funny, powerful, and human.

Singer / Musician

Singer / Musician,

Born in Essex on the 5th of December, Saif was brought up in a traditional Muslim family where teaching was the main profession. Originally hailing from Iraq, they were keen to instill spiritual and Islamic values.

Throughout his childhood, Saif demonstrated a keen interest in music and performance. He taught himself to play the guitar and cajon drums.

"Upon receiving a guitar as a gift as a child, I just knew music was the way to go. I realised I could now express myself and my inner thoughts."

His years at college and university gave him the impetus and drive to perfect his musical skills. It was during this time he combined performance, composition and his love for the spiritual. He progressed to write his own lyrics resulting in fully crafted tracks.

After graduation, Saif pursued a career in the music industry. This resulted in a series of collaborations with mainstream artists including Ed Sheeran, N-Dubz and X-Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos. This fruitful period gave Saif a valuable opportunity to perfect his vocal abilities and song writing skills.

But it was during a life changing trip to Makkah when he realised he could combine his musical talent with his faith. His music could become a new and exciting way in which to connect with his Muslim brothers and sisters.

Upon his return, Saif began to deeply absorb the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and it was at this point that his life changed forever.

"Saif's heartfelt aim is to engage the Muslim community both young and old and spread the message of peace, respect and unity."

He felt empowered and decided that he would try and share these positive messages with the community through the medium of music. Saif now writes and performs songs that have been written with the strength of Islam at the forefront of the message.

Saif has spent a great deal of time in the studio working on his debut album. 'Heart' is set to be released during 2013 and is a heartfelt ode to Islam. He has poured his heart and soul into this work and that raw emotion really comes through.

The debut single 'Believe' will definitely strike a chord in all of us. The album is both uplifting and heartrending. He sings about how the ummah have strayed from the word of Islam, yet if we believe and have faith, then Allah will guide us all through the gates of Heaven.

Saif Adam is managed and signed to The Light Records.



SilkRoad is one of the most unique sounds to come out of the British music scene. Described as a Sufi version of Mumford & Sons they write soaring music with beautiful lyrics and pumping classical Indian beats. They have been featured on the NME website as well as in EMEL magazine and have performed all over the world including Trafalgar Square, South East Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. Made up of 4 guys, led by singer/songwriter and classically trained guitarist, Faraz Yousufzai, SilkRoad are brothers, friends and passionate musicians, trying to make real music that matters. Their long awaited debut album is due for release in early 2014.

Director of Art of the Pen

Director of Art of the Pen,

Soraya is the first Briton to receive the rare icazetname or calligrapher’s license from Istanbul , Turkey. Her practice is a process of disciplined freedom and she enjoys the constant tension between remaining true to her classical training while exploring further possibilities. She takes great pleasure in finding new solutions to unusual commissions and her client portfolio ranges from the British Museum to the Saudi Royal Family. She is the director of Art of the Pen and recently founded Nuqta (, an Arabic typography and calligraphy app.

Soraya's art is held in private and public collections in Canada, USA, UK, Spain, France, Norway, Sweden, Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar and Sharjah. Her work also published in magazines, journals and exhibition catalogues in Europe, USA and UAE. The British Council, Switzerland produced a DVD based on her work with them. Soraya has been interviewed for Radio 4's Women Hour and Hearth&Soul, for the BBC's World Services. Her book cover designs and calligraphic logos have been printed worldwide and many clients range from private galleries and museums to the film industry. To see more of her work, visit her portfolio

Soraya has an MA in Visual Islamic and Traditional Arts from The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, London. She resides in Greater London with her husband and children.

Poet, Emcee, Vocalist, Fashion Designer, Radio Host, Activist and Motivational Speaker/Teacher.

Poet, Emcee, Vocalist, Fashion Designer, Radio Host,
Activist and Motivational Speaker/Teacher,

Tasleem draws from her experiences growing up in Chicago, her faith, her ancestors and her numerous world travels.

Her creative vision led her to fuse Hip-Hop, Jazz, Soul, Blues and Spiritual experiences which lends to her universal appeal.

In her travels, Tasleem has performed at various venues, in New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, Ghana, West Africa and many festivals, universities and theaters across the nation.

Her company My Soul Speaks, LLC released a CD “Tasleem” 2008 a live and uncut DVD “My Soul Speaks” 2005 and now in 2013 a poetry book “Black Baptist Muslim Mystic: from the Cosmos”. She has shared the stage and/or worked with such artists as The Last Poets, KRS-1, Brother Ali, Tinariwen (Mali), Tiraline (Morocco), Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Lupe Fiasco, Vieux Farka Toure, Rock Steady Crew, Kindred and the Family Soul, Jurassic 5 among others.

Digital Illustrator, Photographer and Graphic Designer

Digital Illustrator, Photographer and Graphic Designer,

Tasnim Baghdadi is 25 years old and was born and raised in Cologne, Germany. Building up on her Bachelor’s degree in Asian Studies she started her Master’s in Asian and Islamic Art History with a strong focus on Art and Architecture of the Middle East a year ago. She also works as a freelance artist in the fields of Digital Illustration, Graphic Design and photography.

Her recent series of illustrative photographs, entitled "Tribal Mysticism" deals with issues of female and political / ideological identities in the case of young Muslims. She makes a special reference to the recent Arab Spring revolts, highlighting the constant clash of modernity and tradition. The series is showcased on the international online gallery for Middle Eastern art,, and is part of the online exhibition by the International Museum of Women.

Her inspiration is derived from various styles and genres, which she brings to realization in a photo-manipulative, pop-art, surrealist manner.

Find more of her work on her official website

USA / India

USA / India

A Chicago native, Zeshan Bagewadi received his Master's Degree in Voice and Literature from Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music in 2011. A critically acclaimed Opera Singer, Zeshan made his lead role debut immediately upon completion of his studies in a production of Mozart's "Don Giovanni" in New York City. This led to a residency with Chicago Opera Theater in which he was tapped to understudy the lead role of Prince Tamino in a production of Mozart's "Magic Flute" in September of 2012. In December of the same year, Zeshan made his musical theater debut as Lord Shiva in "Sita Ram", a musical based on the Ramayana and co-produced by Lookingglass Theatre Company and the Chicago Children's Choir. He has since been the lead singer of Zamin, an indie-rock band based in Chicago that released their self-entitled album "Zamin" ( and continues to be heard live across the United States.

Zeshan has performed extensively throughout the United States, Italy and India. He has sung in 11 different languages and is trilingual. Most recently, he performed at the 2013 Jaipur Literature Festival.

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