It started off as a project between a couple of Muslim friends at the University of Maryland, College Park, but, since its inception, CreativeMuslims has truly taken off, establishing itself as ‘one to watch’ in the world of Muslim blogs.
It is a blog that features Muslims around the world who are using creativity and their inventive talents to promote social welfare. Featured Muslims include artists, designers, musicians, and writers. According to Editor-in-Chief Anam Siddiqui, CreativeMuslims came at a time when it was needed the most.
“Islamophobia has given Muslims a lot of bad publicity,” said Siddiqui. “But CreativeMuslims helps eradicate those stereotypes. We showcase feel-good stories showing Muslims in positive roles, being proactive and truly demonstrating through their creative talent what Islam is all about. This is how to prove to the world that Muslims aren’t just oppressed. Muslims have something cool and interesting to show the world.”
And, in an ironic way, CreativeMuslims itself is a model of the kind of Muslim willpower for good which it showcases. The blog began in January 2010, after founder Tubah Sultan realized that there was so much Muslim art in the world and no online platform to share it. Sultan shared the idea with fellow students Hanifah Dasti and Siddiqui, putting Siddiqui, an avid writer, in charge of the blog content, and Dasti in charge of the technical aspect. “She’s good with computers and techy stuff,” said Siddiqui.
After recruiting a few interested writers, the site took off, and according to Dasti, who serves as Social Media Director of CreativeMuslims, it has seen its share of positive feedback. “We marketed CreativeMuslims at DC MIST and had so much interest and felt a lot of encouragement from the younger kids regarding the site.” She added, “Often, Muslim kids are encouraged to become doctors and engineers. This blog allows other kids who want to pursue other professions the opportunity to unite with those who share their interests, and their faith.”
Through CreativeMuslims, Muslims truly prove that they do indeed have something cool and interesting to share. Tariq Farid is just one example. Farid is the founder of the wildly popular Edible Arrangements, a company specializing in distributing fruit baskets which look like floral bouquets. It took some CreativeMuslims research for Siddiqui to realize that it was a Muslim who came up with the idea of combining fruit and floral design.
CreativeMuslims also featured Faraz Zaidi, creator of teeshirt design company Profound Aesthetic, which specializes in shirts with powerful and inspirational messages promoting peace, dispelling violence, and encouraging creativity. In his interview, Zaidi, who started the company while studying at Rutgers University, explained that he created the company as a response to a lack of creativity and expression in the market.
CreativeMuslims shed the light on other Muslim-driven efforts as well, such as a company which specializes in Islamic wallpaper, a man who created the first light-up prayer rug, a female Muslim racecar driver, hijab designers, poets, and a feature on community Muslim “heroes.”
But the team still isn’t done and has plans to grow and solidify the blog’s reputation while increasing awareness about it. “We want to build a stronger team and need more writers so we can find more subjects to feature and update more frequently. Since we’re just a few college kids, busy periods like final exams affect our productivity and we tend to go on hiatus. Hopefully with some more dedicated writers, we can change that and update more often,” said Dasti.
But the goal behind the blog will remain the same. “I hope CreativeMuslims gives people a chance to see what they can do, how they can ‘make it,’ and in what way their artistic talents can help the community,” said Siddiqui. “This can be a platform for expanding ideas, an opportunity to network with other creative professionals, and a place to truly prove that Muslims are capable of truly changing the world when they dedicate themselves to promoting social good.”