“If we don’t push Muslim creatives into the space, who’s going to write our story? Are we just going to let someone else write our narrative?” Abbas Mohamed, one of the GAMA (Gathering All Muslim Artists) directors, asked the sold-out crowd at Alena Museum in Oakland on Saturday evening. “That’s what we’ve been doing for a long time; but we need to change that.”
Like Mohamed, many members of the Muslim community are exasperated by the inaccurate depictions of their religious identity. Drained from constantly having their narratives cultivated by others who are often outside of the community itself, the GAMA Collective hopes to help Muslims reclaim their identities.
With the help of GAMA Collective, young, creative Muslims aim to rewrite their roles in popular culture after years of pushing back against the discrepant notion of Islam serving as a gateway to terrorism. These creatives hope to push the truth forward by celebrating the beauty in their art, music and culture. Muslims are more than the distraught news we see, a point GAMA Collective hopes to highlight.
GAMA Collective is an organization that tackles the misrepresentation of Islam by empowering visual artists, photographers and digital designers in the Muslim community to come forward with their talent and enrich the current, one-sided narrative. They encourage the appreciation and cultivation of art by hosting quarterly events to use creative mediums as tools for outreach. Their most recent event, Building the Muslim Narrative, was a conglomeration of various artists who discussed the implications of being Muslim in America.
With only a month of planning, GAMA Collective was able to organize and sell out the event three times, demonstrating not only that there is a large community of creative Muslims but also that there is a demand to see this community embrace its creativity.