Fashion News

“Light calligrapher” among many making stopover at Ilm Arts Festival!

RECOGNISED as one of H&M‘s most popular faces, Mariah Idrissi showed the world that even Muslims could rock a Swedish clothing brand. But if you’re not into models, know that light comedian Aman Ali and R&B artist Faisal Salah are also joining Mariah at iM4U Sentral soon to participate in the Ilm Arts Festival.

posterThe Ilm Arts Festival is an international event that takes place around the world — this year alone it has visited Melbourne and Kuwait to showcase some of the Muslim world’s most acclaimed artists and personalities.

Hoping to serve as a platform to deal with social issues and present Islam in positive light given the media’s spin on recent world events, the festival’s second incarnation in Malaysia comprises visual art, spoken word, comedy and musical performances.

Before we proceed, we’d also like to point out that “ilm” (علم‎‎) is the Islamic term for knowledge. It does not actually stand for “I Love Malaysia” as reported in the New Straits Times last year although festival director Sajid Hussain acknowledged the possibility in his press statement.

We know that art can be used to deal with complicated social issues and to counter the negative portrayal of the Muslim world in recent times. The Ilm Arts Festival presents the beauty of Islam in a unique form, where even non-Muslim artists come together on stage celebrating who we all are, despite our differences. […] ILM is also an acronym for  ‘I Love Malaysia’ and what better time for us to have the festival which not only inspires but promotes Malaysia as one of the world’s leading authorities in the Arts.

Among things to do at Ilm include workshops, talks and also a competition which gives fans a chance to perform on stage. Those keen on exerting as little physical and mental effort as possible on a Sunday outing can look forward to a large array of performances from spoken word poets, international nasyid acts and even a beatboxer.

Passes to the one-day only congregation starts at a mere RM50. But if you need more convincing, here’s a taster of who’s coming to Ilm next weekend!

Mariah Idrissi, model

British model Mariah launched to international fame after she was picked up by Swedish clothing house H&M for their Close The Loop campaign. Of Moroccan and Pakistani heritage, this 23-year old had only just graduated with a degree in English literature back then.

Given that her Instagram account was set to private, it was by luck she was scouted by a casting director! The editorial campaign which launched her portrayed her standing outside a fish and chip store decked in a headscarf and coat, looking trendier than ever.

Mariah’s work quickly gained a following thanks to the campaign, but the outspoken talent also got her fair share of detractors who claimed she was being “immodest” and “un-Islamic”.

Some members of the community still don’t get it. I’m trying to explain to people that fashion is such a big, influential part of life, the same way that music is to movies. If we were more used to seeing Muslim women, then for all the negative media that we hear about Muslims there’d also be a positive side to it as well.

— Mariah Idrissi, The Telegraph

One year on from her fateful appointment, she continues modelling contemporary Muslim wear. She also speaks at events and was invited to present at TEDx London, recently held at the prestigious O2 Arena.

Karim Jabbari, light artist

One Tunisian-born artist has a worldwide following. But how could he not, when he does calligraphy with light!

Known for coming up with some stunning artworks which showcase his culture and heritage, Karim began traditional calligraphy since he was 12 years of age. His love for Arabic language and North African roots pushed him to understand and develop his calligraphy further, eventually growing to experiment with the discipline.




Based in Montreal today, Karim is known for his light calligraphy as well as his calligraffiti. The latter is a combination of calligraphy and grafitti, but Karim’s have something extra unique — his inspirations range from poetry to verses from the Quran and the world, and they’re almost always based on Arabic script.

Karim also has an initiative titled Back to Basics which aims to pull youths back from the digital realm and into real life where they are encouraged to engage in hands-on activities such as painting and participating in field trips.

ckpkrwy6Omar Suleiman, imam

If everybody had Omar’s patience and capacity for understanding, the world could be in a better place today!

This Muslim intellect is one of the world’s best-known clerics. Based in the United States, Omar recently took to the stage with American president Barack Obama at an interfaith memorial service, but he’s so awesome he was even invited to the funeral service of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali.

Born in New Orleans, Omar notices the differences in how Islam is practiced around the world. As such, he advocates freedom of expression, dialogue and discussion among Muslims and is one of few who addresses issues very rarely spoken about such as infidelity and homosexuality.

Omar holds a masters degree in Islamic Finance and was formerly a lecturer at Mishkah University and imam of Masjid Abu Bakr As-Saddique in Ohio. Make sure to watch the Bayyinah Institute‘s Out Of Context video series on Islam and see for yourself his diligent process!

The Ilm Arts Festival will be held from 10:00am to 8:00pm on 22 October 2016 at iM4U Sentral. Tickets for the event can be purchased directly from the official site but for more information, contact Nurris Ishak at +6012-378 8975 or via email at This edition of the Ilm Arts Festival is supported by iM4U FM, Dops TV, Avani Sepang Goldcoast, Tourism Malaysia and iM4U.

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