Cultural and History Festival at the 2008 Conference
A highlight of the conference is a cultural festival featuring cultural and history exhibits, film fest and theatre art, that will take place on Friday and Saturday of the conference. All exhibits, films and the theatre presentation will be accompanied by an exhibitor/artists talk, giving participants opportunities to hear and talk with their creators.
Three films, created by Shaikh Abdullah Hakim Quick will debut with introductory talks by Shaikh Abdullah, including: Untold Ethiopia: An Islamic Experience and Journey to Timbuktu, the Empire of Knowledge. Both were filmed on site, and Shaikh Abdullah will talk about how he conceived and produced the films.
Other films include a beautiful film by Taqwa Mahdi, Silent Islam, that takes viewers inside the world of our deaf brothers and sisters; Keeping the Faith produced by ICPIC New Africa Center in collaboration with Scribe Center, which aired on PBS and looks at the history of Islam in the African American community of Philadelphia; Humanitarian Day, Detroit by Sumaya Haji-Jama documents an effort by Muslims to help feed and clothe the needy. Videographer, Ahmad Kenya will introduce several shorts shot in various sites in Africa, depicting family life, arts and crafts and the celebration of Eid festival. Prince of Slaves, debuted at last year’s conference, and will air once during the conference with an announcement about the launch of an effort for nation-wide local airings.
Highlighting the history exhibition is Forgotten Roots: Muslims in Early America, by Washington-based historian and curator Amir N. Muhammad. The exhibition brings together an extraordinary range of artifacts, drawings, religious texts, documents and photographs to examine the presence and contributions of persons of African descent and Muslim heritage during the 18th and 19th centuries. The Jewel in the Desert: Getting Acquainted with Our Muslim Neighbors, an exhibit conceived by Aneesah Nadir and Muna Ali, includes history of Hajj Ali who worked for the U.S. Calvary as a camel herder in the 1800’s, Shams Tung who completed his translation of the Qur’an into Chinese in his adopted home of Arizona, and Arizona-Masjid Jauharatul-Islam, the first mosque built in Arizona by indigenous American Muslims.
Khalil Abu Khabir, offers The Dar a photo essay depicting images that presents the viewer with inside views of the people, activities and experiences of the Darul Islam Movement in Brooklyn, NY. The Dar gives the curious viewer a vision of the Islamic experience during an important crossroad in Black History.
In, As the Veil Turns, photo artist Nsenga Knight employs photography, video and oral history, to explore the spiritual and community lives of Black Women who converted to Islam prior to 1975 and were pioneers of Brooklyn’s oldest Muslim communities. As the Veil Turns, is an interactive project, giving viewers access to the layered and historical, first hand accounts of these pioneering women.
Janaza of Imam W. D. Mohammed, is a small but powerful exhibit of beautiful images by photographer Ron Foster Sharif, that gives us a dignified remembrance of the gathering for the funeral prayer of a great American Muslim Leader.
A highlight of the cultural exhibits is Expressions in Taqwa, an art exhibition by artist Wyndi Spaulding-Shabazz, who traces her Islamic roots to Bilalli Mohammed of Sapelo Island. She considers her work, which includes mixed media collage on canvas using hand crafted objects and paper, visual du’a.
The Life and Challenges of a Muslim American, is a collection of art pieces by Ameerah Khabir. Ameerah says her work is intentionally controversial in an attempt “force Muslims to look within themselves.” A single painting, “Anticipation,” by Angeline Hazime rounds out the Artistic Expressions Exhibition.
Theatre Art Festival
Excerpts from the theatre production, Unveiled: Stories from the Lives of Muslim Women by author/producer Bayyinah Muhammad, provides an illuminating look at the personal lives, inner struggles and triumphs of Muslim women of varied backgrounds. Alternately serious and seriously funny, it is always thought-provoking and realistic.