About ISlamic Artists of Orlando
Islam is many things. To the blind, it is a light. To the lost, it is a guide. To the uninspired, a muse. Perhaps most celebrated by its followers is Islam’s plasticity of interpretation. It emphasizes individual experiences and personal connections with God by providing diverse practices of prayer, allowing its followers to discover novel and unique ways to deepen their relationships with Allah. While supporting this individual spirituality, Islam is also known to sponsor strength in community. It expounds tolerance with an ultimate goal of communal peace.
This is our image of Islam, one which we share with many other followers of the religion. Unfortunately, this is not the version of Islam many are used to hearing. In the East, extremist branches of fundamentalist Islam have been systematically misappropriating Islamic doctrines to justify malignant action. These groups have been propagated throughout the media, exposing to the world a false perception of the religion. Consequent responses to this image of Islam have resulted in a warped view of the religion which incorrectly interprets Islam as a normatively hateful, violent, and intolerant way of life. And as anti-Islam sentiments become more and more volatile, so do the actions of the hateful groups, who equally slander the name of Islam: it is a vicious cycle, one that centrist followers of Islam have been spinning in for decades.
This project was founded to intervene in that vicious cycle by reimagining the perception of Islam. By adopting the values of Sufi Islam, which encourages intellectual and artistic responses to God’s eternal love, we hope to unite and enlighten our community and better the perception of our religion in its eyes. The mission of Islamic Artists of Orlando is to promote this peaceful vision of Islam by shining a light and celebrating Islamic art throughout Central Florida.
Throughout Islamic history, art has served as the glue that held communities together, and today remains a constructive facet of the religion. Around mosques, throughout bazaars, and even inside of homes, Islamic Art is of its own genre. Its geometrically repetitive patterns accentuate God’s kaleidoscopic beauty, while its balanced compositions represent peace. We plan to explore traditional conventions of Islamic art to keep in touch with idiosyncratic conventions, while modernizing artistic styles to fit our increasingly complex and diverse society.
So we ask you, Muslims and Non-Muslims alike, to join us on our mission. You are all needed to achieve our goal, be you an artist, a coordinator, a sponsor, or a supporter. Help us to unify our community. Help us to propagate love, intellect, and art. And most importantly, help us to rediscover what Islam truly represents – peace.
Hamzah Jhaveri and the Islamic Artists of Orlando Staff
peace be upon you