Download “The Big Game” – A Rumi Bear & Friends Story

“The Big Game” – A Rumi Bear & Friends Story

Dear Friends and Readers,

I invite you to download my short story, entitled “The Big Game”, from Amazon. This fun story features Sami, his bear Rumi, and friends. A rainy day brings Sami, Rumi Bear, Fareed The Frog & Pearl The Squirrel together for a fun baseball game in the park. This short story is intended for a young audience and is easy to read. The cover art is by Fahad Qadeer (Fedd Khan), a master artist who has graduated from NCA in Pakistan. You can view more of Fedd Khan’s work here. “The Big Game” is only 99 cents, and will be a free download on 9/23. Please leave some feedback after reading it. Thanks!

You can download “The Big Game” here:


The Named Angels | Mohammed Fairouz


The Named Angels | Mohammed Fairouz.

The above link is an article on a new string quartet by Mohammed Fairouz. You can purchase tickets for his upcoming show in NYC on September 6th here:


Mohammed Fairouz, one of New York’s brightest rising stars, curates an evening of chamber and vocal music by a diverse group of his colleagues bringing together some of city’s most notable and well-loved performers with some of the most distinctive musical voices of the young generation.

From re-imaginings of Middle Eastern folklore and ancient Chinese fragments to remixes of Disney classics and a new anthem for a forgotten Haitian Island, THE NAMED ANGELS is a rich evening of new works spanning cultures and centuries from a vibrant collection of composers.

Clarinetist David Krakauer performs Mohammed Fairouz’s tender and dark Tahwidah joined by soprano Amelia Watkins. This work was Fairouz’s first reaction to the death of the eminent poet Mahmoud Darwish and sets one of Darwish’s poems that evokes a mother singing a lullaby to her son at his funeral.

Kathleen Supove will play a selection of Fairouz’s piano miniatures including Lullaby for a Chelsea Boy,Liberace and Bargemusic. She’ll also present Matt Marks’ wittily tongue-in-cheek Disney Remixes. These cleverly-spun pieces recall scenes from Disney Movies: The Little MermaidBeauty and the Beast and Aladdin. Another of New York’s most loved pianists, Taka Kigawa , will join the iconic Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) in a performance of Simone and Navassa’s National Anthem. The composer himself will perform the violin part.

Cellist Adrian Daurov performs Du Yun’s San, a deconstruction of haunting ancient Chinese fragments.

The amazing Voxare String Quartet closes the show with Mohammed Fairouz’s string quartet, The Named Angels; a work that invokes the mythology of angels in Middle Eastern Jewish, Christian and Muslim folklore.

Soz-e-Ishq | Abida Parveen

In my opinion, one of the best voices alive, Miss Abida Parveen is a living legend among fans of heart stirring music.  Originally from the Sindh province of Pakistan,  Abida Parveen is trained in Sufiana Kalaam.

According to Wikipedia:

She sings mainly ghazals and her forte, Kafis, a solo genre accompanied by percussion and harmonium, using a repertoire of songs by Sufi poets.[1] Parveen sings in UrduSindhiSaraikiPunjabi and Persian, and together with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is considered one of the finest Sufi vocalists of the modern era. [2][3][4][5] She is currently a Judge on a musical show Sur Kshetra.

Read about her here and check out her music on iTunes here.


Ghuydar: “The Syrian American Sinatra,” Irfan Aziz Feeds The Poor, Somair Alam’s Quest, Faiz Safdar & RJ Cafe!


When Moutasem Atiya and his dedicated group at Al-Madina Institute put their stamp of approval on something, it is usually because it is quality.  So when Al-Madina recently introduced Nasheed artist Ghuydar Bashmaf through their website,, it was a good indication of the bright future Ghuydar’s singing career will have, with God’s help.

Ghuydar is a Syrian American singer who migrated to America in his early childhood.  Ghuydar comes from Aleppo, Syria, renown for its musical heritage.  According to his website,, Ghuydar is influenced by Arabic, Circassian, and Turkish musical traditions, and he sings in these languages as well.  Ghuydar is formerly of the musical nasheed group ‘Travelers,’ which was well known in the New York scene.  He is currently #2 on the AwakeningTalent contest on Youtube, and you can support him by liking his video below on youtube or on

This dude can sing!

Best of luck to Ghuydar!  The hype is buzzing on when his album is coming out!

Also, some other noteworthy items of note from around the area:

  • Irfan Aziz, a certified chaplain, has been holding it down with feeding our needy brothers and sisters in the DC area at The Central Union Mission.  You can read more about Irfan’s noble efforts here. It is once a month, and if you are interested in volunteering your time, money, or food, please contact Irfan directly @ or call  347.401.8546.  A man asked Allah’s Messenger, “Which act in Islam is the best?” He replied, “To feed (the poor and the needy) and to greet everyone, whether you are acquainted with them or not.” (Bukhari & Muslim)
  • Somair Alam, a native of Virginia, is gearing up to compete in his first bodybuilding competition in New York, NY this June.  Please show him support by visiting his site,, or finding him on Facebook.  The guy is beast.
  • Congratulations to my younger brother, Faiz Safdar, for becoming Security + and CCA Xenapp 6.5 certified.  Microsoft, Google & Apple, holla back!  Doing big things bro! You can send him your offers at Faiz Safdar’s LinkedIn page.
  • Finally, although I hit the gym, I can’t forget about Chubby Cheemy’s Chunky Monkey Sauce.  As requested, this is a public service announcement to let all you halal burger, wings and steak fans know that RJ Cafe is open on Sundays from 11AM to 9PM.  This restaurant is conveniently located in Beltsville, MD and provides a friendly family environment for you and your friends to enjoy the best Americana food around. Check out RJ Cafe onlineBooyah!

Yuna Has a Song to Sing…

And any song she sings is worth listening to. Check out an interview with her here.

On her latest album, entitled “Yuna”, she evokes a positive feeling in the listener with soft and upbeat songs. With a voice reminiscent of Billy Holiday and Esther Phillips in “If You Love Me”, Yuna sings softly over tracks laid by the likes of N.E.R.D.’s Pharrell Williams. Some good songs on her album worth listening to are “Lullabies”, “Bad Idea”, “Fading Flower”, “See You Go”, and “Live Your Life”. Basically, the whole album is worth it – and you can purchase it on Amazon here or on iTunes here.

Usman Riaz: Pakistan’s Newest Musical Sensation

There is a new musical sensation hailing from Pakistan: Usman Riaz.  Recently, the 21 year old wowed the audience at the 2012 TED conference with an amazing solo and collaboration with famous percussion guitarist, Preston Reed.


Riaz, classically trained in piano and other traditional instruments, learned percussion guitar by watching videos on youtube.  In 2011, his video “Fire Fly” went viral and increased his recognition.  You can view another of his videos entitled “Saeen” here.  Watch out for his name as this young artist has a bright future ahead of him.


Connect with Usman Riaz at his twitter account,, or his facebook page at  His music is available on iTunes and Amazon Music, and you can read more about him here and here.


Emirs of Laugh: The Rise of The Muslim Comedian

The Roman stoic philosopher Seneca said “If I want to look at a fool, I have only to look in the mirror.”  There is a fool in all of us, in the banality of everyday life and the absurdity of some of the actions people do.  It is in this sense that the role of the fool takes root in society – as a mirror to ourselves.  From Karim Shirei to Stephen Colbert, the jester has played in important role in society, and so too today it is with a new breed of Muslim comedians.

Many Muslims, especially in the West, have at some point or another felt the pang of a derogatory remark or slur.  But one person’s feces is another’s fertilizer, and with the right combination of good fertilizer, water and light – one can probably grow some nice herbs.  As Mucahit Bilici, assistant professor of sociology at New York‘s John Jay College wrote in the forward to “Islamophobia/Islamophilia: Beyond the Politics of Enemy and Friend” :  “The discrimination, prejudices and stereotypes from which other Muslims suffer are a godsend for the Muslim comedian.”

So without further ado, here is our who’s who list of Muslim comedians.  Although this list is not comprehensive, we hope it gives you just enough so that next time you find yourself giggling at that funny guy on t.v. or on stage, you can rest assured your “teehee” was probably orchestrated by a comedian of the Muslim orientation.

Dave Chappelle

Richard Pryor, the man called “the Picasso of [comedy]” by greats such as Jerry Seinfeld for his cutting edge, in-your-face brand of humor, himself counted Dave Chappelle as his his favorite comedian.  Dave Chappelle is an American comedian, screenwriter,television/film producer, actor, and artist.  Known most for his famous television comedy The Chappelle Show, Chappelle also starred in movies such as Half BakedUndercover Brother and Dave Chappelle’s Block Party.  Although himself a Muslim, Chappelle chooses not to define his comedy by his religion.  As he told Time Magazine in 2005, “”I don’t normally talk about my religion publicly because I don’t want people to associate me and my flaws with this beautiful thing. And I believe it is beautiful if you learn it the right way.”  The internet has been abuzz with rumors that Dave Chappelle has recently joined twitter – using the handle @chappelledavidk.

Aziz Ansari

Aziz Ansari is an American actor, stand-up comic and writer who stars as Tom Haverford on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.”  Ansari has acted in many movies, including “Observe and Report” and “Funny People”.  He has released a dvd entitled Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening.  Ansari is currently engaged in his Buried Alive tour.  Ansari enjoys talking about his little cousin Harris alot.  His website is here, where you can purchase a copy of his new special: Dangerously Delicious.  Watch Aziz Ansari teach Zach Galifikianikis about swag and the “I don’t know” dance here.  Find him on twitter @azizansari.

Azhar Usman

Proclaimed “America’s funniest Muslim” by CNN, Azhar Usman is grabbing the proverbial comedy bull by the horns and dancing the salsa with it.  An attorney by training, Usman is a stand-up comedian who has been involved in stand-up since 2001.  In 2004, Usman, Preacher Moss and Azeem Muhammad (replaced by Mohammed Amer in 2006) started the “Allah Made Me Funny” tour.  Most recently, Usman has embarked on his “Citizen of the World” tour, which has received rave reviews by media outlets such as The New York Times, CNN and ABC.  Dave Chappelle of Chappelle Show fame has been quoted as saying “Azhar Usman is untouchable.”  Azhar Usman’s website can be seen here, and you can see him talk more about his latest project here, and here he is as Tinku Patel. Find him on twitter @azharusman.

Aasif Mandvi

Aasif Mandvi is an Indian American comedian, writer and actor.  He won an Obie Award for his one man show, Sakinah’s Kitchen.  He is a regular on the television show The Daily Show with John Stewart.  He has had roles in The Proposal, Die Hard With a Vengeance, and The Last Airbender amongst others.  Mandvi has participated in charitable events for Pakistani earthquake relief as well as in Haiti, amongst others.  His Daily Show bio is here and you can follow him on twitter @aasif.

Preacher Moss

Preacher Moss is an American stand-up comic and writer.  Moss, who wrote for other Hollywood acts such as Damon Wayans and George Lopez, also wrote his own show entitled “The End Of Racism.”  Post 9/11, Preacher moss tackled the topic of discrimination against Muslims with his cutting edge humor in the “Allah Made Me Funny” tour.  As he told Illume magazine: “”I’ve seen all the shows about [Muslims in] sleeper cells,” … “I wanted to be able to do something that’s funny and meaningful.”  Most recently, Preacher Moss performed alongside other entertainers such as Junaid Jamshed, Outlandish, Native Deen and Zain Bhika at Islamic Relief’s “Evening of Inspiration”.  Check out some videos of Preacher Moss here and here.  Find him on twitter @preachermoss.

Maysoon Zayid

Maysoon Zayid is an actress, comedian and activist.  Hailing from New Jersey, Zayid is one of the first Muslim American female comedians and the first person to ever perform stand-up comedy in Palestine and Jordan.  Most recently, she is a featured comedian on the documentary The Muslims are Coming.  She is co-founder of the New York Arab American Comedy Festival and has been featured on Comedy Central and the Arabs Gone Wild comedy tour.  She was also in Adam Sandler’s movie Don’t Mess With Zohan.  Her website is Find her on twitter @ maysoonzayid.

Mohammed “Mo” Amer

Mohammed “Mo” Amer is a stand-up comedian of Palestinian descent who has worked with Preacher Moss and Azhar Usman in the “Allah Made Me Funny” tour. His website is and you can check him out doing some funny stuff in Stockholm here and here. Find him on Twitter @realmoamer .

Maz Jobrani

Maz Jobrani is an Iranian American comedian who has worked in film, t.v. and stand-up.  He has appeared on shows such as The Colbert Report and The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.  He has also appeared in films such as The Interpreter  and Friday After Next.  In stand-up, he is part of the Axis-of-Evil group along with Aron Kader and Ahmed Ahmed, and has toured extensively.  His website is here.  Watch him here and here. Find him on Twitter @MazJobrani.

 Ahmed Ahmed

Ahmed Ahmed is an Egyptian American actor and comedian.  He has appeared on television shows such as Swingers, JAG and Punk’d.  He is part of the Axis of Evil comedy tour and was featured in the PBS television documentary America at a Crossroads series in “STAND UP: Muslim American Comics Come of Age.”  Watch Ahmed Ahmed work a really stiff crowd here. Find him on Twitter @ahmedcomedy .

Dean Obeidallah

Dean Obeidallah is a Palestinian-American/Italian-American comedian.  He has appeared on Comedy Central and was featured on the Axis of Evil comedy show.  He has been featured by many major news agencies and has been nominated for an Emmy for his work with Comedy Central.  His most recent project is the documentary: The Muslims Are Coming, a documentary in which he co-stars with fellow comedian Negin Farsad. Find him on Twitter @Deanofcomedy.

Aron Kader

Aron Kader is Palestinian American comedian who has performed in the Axis of Evil comedy tour.  He is featured on an up and coming documentary entitled The Muslims Are Coming, about Muslim comedians in America.  Watch him talk about AlKader here. Find him on Twitter @aronkader.


Baba Ali

Baba Ali is a cofounder of UmmahFilms and a comedian.  His films are popular on youtube, and he has been featured by NY Times and USA Today.  He is also the featured comedian/speaker in the Ask Baba Ali series.  These days he’s working on marriage.  His website can be seen here. Find him on Twitter @ummahfilms.




Negin Farsad

Negin Farsad is a comedian, actress, producer and director.  She co-stars with Dean Obeidallah in the new documentary entitled The Muslims Are Coming.  She produced and directed Nerdcore Rising, a documentary about Nerdcore rap.  She founded Qualified Productions in 2005.  Her website can be seen here. Find her on Twitter @neginfarsad.

Aamer Rahman

Aamer Rahman is half of the comedy duo that comprises Fear of a Brown Planet.  The young man of Bengali heritage is also a law graduate and comedian.  Together with Nazeem Hussain, Fear of a Brown Planet won the best newcomer award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2008 and achieved great success with their return in Fear of a Brown Planet Returns.  You can watch Aamer work his magic here and read more about him here.  His website is here. Find him on Twitter @aamer_rahman.

Nazeem Hussain

Nazeem Hussain is the other half of Fear of a Brown Planet.  We think he’s pretty rad too.  He’s also of Sri Lankan heritage, which puts him in the company of other cool Sri Lankans like Aziz Ansari and M.I.A.  His website is also here.  Watch a hilarious clip of him here.  Find him on Twitter @nazeem_hussain.

Said Durrah

Said Durrah is one of the coolest comedians around.  Hailing from Palestinian and Jordanian heritage, Durrah gets crowds rolling with his disarmingly subtle humor.  Check out how he got the crowd rolling at the Arab Comedian Big Brown Comedy Hour in 2010 here.  As he told Meccastars, “I don’t curse in my shows… I perform as if my family is in front of me.”   You can check out his website at or his Facebook page at Keep your eyes peeled for Said Durrah performing at a comedy show near you soon!

Mohammad “Mo” El-Leissy

Mohammad El-Leissy was doing his thing on The Amazing Race Australia and winning over fans with his buddy, Mostafa Haroun.  Of it, he said: ”We’d be role models for obesity.” ‘Eat more doughnuts – but make sure they’re halal’.”  We’re not sure if he’s still doing stand-up or promoting halal donuts, but you can still laugh at his jokes here.

New Movie about Islamic Art debuts for 2012

A new documentary entitled Islamic Art, Mirror of the Invisible World will be broadcast at a date to be decided later this year on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service).

Islamic Art, Mirror of the Invisible World is the latest in a line of quality films such as Muhammad, Legacy of a Prophet and Prince Among Slaves produced by Unity Productions Foundation (UPF).   According to the UPF website, the documentary ” takes audiences on an epic journey across nine countries and over 1,400 years of history. It explores themes such as the Word, Space, Ornament, Color and Water and presents the stories behind many great masterworks of Islamic Art and Architecture.”


Unity Productions Foundation film company  is a non-profit organization founded in 1999 by Alex Kronemer and Michael Wolfe with the objective of creating “peace through the media.”  Kronemer and Michael Wolfe produced the film with Rob Gardner as producer.  It features Academy-Award winner Susan Sarandon as the narrator who guides the viewer on a journey towards understanding Islamic art, its origins, inspirations, legacy and transcendental qualities.

Film Image from Islamic Art, Mirror of the Invisible World. Photo Credit: Gardner Films

The viewing experience attempted to be provided to the audience, according to Kronemer, is one which gives justice to “the whole breadth and depth of Islamic civilization.”  As Kronemer stated in an earlier interview, “When you take such an approach, you’re kind of reminded that the conflicts and the tensions that consume a particular time or place in history tend to be forgotten, and what remains, what endures, are the cultural productions.”

The documentary attempts to give greater awareness of the cultural contributions of an Islamic society whose image has been muddied in the West.  According to Kronemer, “Islam has become a caricature.  It is a caricature of [ticked-off] people who are just angry at the West and that’s it, that’s all we need to know.  But there are many different colored threads in the tapestry of Islamic identity, which Kronemer believes the film will show: “Besides the fact that there’s so much contemporary evidence to the contrary, the Islamic world is so large and so diverse, and I think that this film really shows the sensitivity and the sensuality that is a very big part of the Islamic story and serves in some ways to rebut the caricatures.”

You can see when Islamic Art, Mirror of the Invisible World will be showing by visiting the UPF website at .