A painting hangs on a wall in Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts. In varying hues of blue, soft yellow and beige, it is the portrait of a young woman. Her head is tilted slightly, her eyes looking into the distance. She is tight lipped with a resolved look on her face, but most noticeable of all is her sky-blue headscarf, emblazoned with a yellow Fleur-de-Lys- the national symbol of Quebec.
This is a self-portrait of Zahraa Sbaiti, a visual artist from Montreal, Quebec. Born and raised in Canada, Zahraa is 24 years old and of Lebanese decent. She is a student at Concordia University, soon graduating with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts.
While it is home to many brilliant artists, Ottawa is mostly known as a working city and not necessarily for its art scene. Hoping to change the future of art in her city, and perhaps the world, one Muslim woman has a few initiatives up her sleeve.
Nader Khan is a Indian Canadian singer/songwriter, arts educator and social activist. Over the last 20 years, he has toured and performed across Canada, USA, South Africa, UK, the West Indies, Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore in solo performances, and on tours with other internationally renowned artists and scholars. Nader has spearheaded various social justice initiatives that promote local and international relief efforts through Islamic devotional music, arts, youth engagement, and inspiration. In 2013, Nader established #ShareTheProphet, bringing together service and devotion by channeling 100% of sales revenue from future albums into humanitarian causes. His second album, Water was released in May 2015 to widespread critical acclaim. 100% of the album sales of Water will be going to WaterAid Canada. Nader is an Ontario Arts Council Arts Educator, delivering workshops on drumming, Islam and music as well as social justice in schools throughout the Greater Toronto Area.
Vancouver-based writer Rahat Kurd has recently published a collection of poetry entitled Cosmophilia. Her collection explores her personal journey as a Kashmiri Muslim Canadian woman grappling with faith, identity, history, family and the traumatic and ever present legacy of the partition of India and Pakistan. She will be in Ottawa on March 29th and in Toronto on April 9th reading from her collection. Muslim Link interviewed her about her writing.
Jamaal Jackson Rogers is a Black Muslim Canadian Spoken Word poet in Ottawa. He has coached and supported several of the city’s up and coming Spoken Word poets. Muslim Link interviewed him about his personal journey as an artist.
Ottawa's Sanad Collective ran a competition which challenges both children and adults to write personal letters to the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him. Algerian Canadian Hidayet Abbad won first prize in the adult category with this poem.
Edmontonian Spoken Word poet Nasra Adem was in Ottawa in August to perform in the Artistic Showcase of the Youth Can Slam National Youth Poetry Festival. But she’s no stranger to the Nation’s Capital. “That was like 10 years of my life!” Nasra, who’s only 20, exclaimed.