When words evade us, art can help fill in the gaps. On March 11,World Day of Muslim Culture, Peace, Dialogue and Film will be celebrated worldwide. Seven years ago, Javaid Mohammed created this holiday to bring awareness to the Islamic faith. Through an artistic lens, different cultural manifestations of Islam are presented to the public, in hopes of starting a dialogue on what it means to be a Muslim. Enjoy exploring these fabulously talented Muslim filmmakers, beautiful Islamic art, and dialogue on cultural awareness to broaden your understanding of the many facets of the Islamic religion:

Graphic Arts

Islamic art draws a lot of emphasis on calligraphy, which is a very popular art medium across borders. These calligraphic forms sometimes display verses from the Quran, the Islamic holy book, or various Arabic phrases. The beauty is in its decorative nature and is appreciated across both Muslim communities and non-Muslim communities. In Islamic art, it is common to see many nature-oriented and vegetation paintings, inscriptions, and weavings around the written inscriptions. A lot of the beauty of this cultural and religious art stems from elegant abstractions rather than physical objects.

Artistic Film

Because one of the goal is to recognize film, it is important to bring attention to Muslim filmmakers and actors that contribute lots to the film world. Below is a list of prolific film directors and writers which have brought awareness, diversity, and beauty to the film-sphere:

  • Asghar Farhadi- writer and director of oscar winning movie A Separation
  • Nabil Abou-Hard- Arab-American filmmaker, writer and director of Arab in America
  • Mahershala Ali– Oscar winning, Best-Supporting Actor 2017 for film Moonlight
  • Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy- Pakistani journalist, filmmaker and activist. One of the most-popular and high-profile filmmakers worldwide and the first Pakistani woman to bring home two Oscars for her documentary films Saving Face and A Girl in the River.

Understanding Culture

The Islamic culture is comprised of different geographical groups: Eastern Asian Muslims, Middle Eastern Muslims, U.S. American Muslims, which all practice different customs, but have similar core beliefs. Modesty, respect, and peace are some of the main components highlighted in the religion. Being humble in your beliefs, treating others with respect, and spreading peaceful sentiments are large parts of the faith. During this day, many people come together to spread that awareness and bring attention to cultural norms that are not highlighted by the media.

Seek out your local events celebrating Muslim Culture, Peace, Dialogue & Film. Exploring the artistic side of religion and culture opens doors to new understanding, and reveals the various layers unknown to many people. By doing this, hopefully Javaid Mohammed’s vision of creating and building bridges will be successfully accomplished.

Sharon Schweitzer and Sophia Syed co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her best-selling book Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its second printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. Sharon is the winner of the British Airways International Trade, Investment & Expansion Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.

Sophia Syed is a Spring 2017 cross-cultural communication intern with Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. As a third-culture kid who has lived abroad in countries including Dubai, Jamaica, and Singapore, she has interacted with many different nationalities in both a professional and personal setting. She was a Dubai student representative for the Global Issues Network Conference in Luxembourg in the Spring of 2015, where she discussed economical, environmental and human rights issues with representatives of 70 countries. She currently attends the University of Texas at Austin as a double major in Corporate Communication and Communication Sciences. Her most recent project is working with the Room to Read organization, which raises funds for children’s literacy efforts and girls’ education in Asia and Africa. 

Photo credit: Basrawii , Monomakh, Xavier Allard, Jimmy Baikovicius, Thomas Galvez, Izzah Zainab