Muslim Voices of Philadelphia

Visit the Muslim Voices Website



Muslim Voices of Philadelphia is a community history project exploring the long history of a diverse array of Muslim communities in the region. Members of mosques, masjids, schools, cultural centers, and other Muslim groups combine archival research, ethnography, oral history, and digital media to form a clear and expansive picture of the rich history of Islam in Philadelphia.

The goal of the Muslim Voices of Philadelphia Project is to provide instruction and media tools to traditionally underrepresented Muslim groups in Philadelphia so that they can research and share the stories, significant events, achievements and issues that are part of both the history of Islam in Philadelphia and the history of the city itself.

Upon completion, the finished media works, which include a series of short documentaries, are available for public screenings by the participating groups. The general public also have access to the Muslim Voices of Philadelphia project through screenings organized by Scribe at museums, schools, universities, community organizations, and through a website dedicated to the project.

 

 

Premiere Screening

On Tuesday, June 24, 2014, Muslim Voices of Philadelphia premiered at International House Philadelphia. Following a reception for participating Muslim Voices group members and facilitators, the ticket office was flooded with hundreds eager to see the films. By the time the show started, every seat was filled, with many standing along the sides of the theater.

All nine groups involved in Muslim Voices screened their work to the packed theater. At two times during the screening, we paused for question and answer with the filmmakers and facilitators. All groups members were invited to the stage to introduce themselves and their projects and respond to questions from the audience. Group members shared stories from production, discussed challenges and triumphs, and expressed appreciation for each other and the chance to dialog with diverse Muslim communities in Philadelphia.

Participating Groups

Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship and Mosque

The Mosque is the Heart of the Fellowship

The Mosque is the Heart of the Fellowship explores the history and mystical inspiration of the first community-built Sufi Mosque in Pennsylvania through the heartfelt reflections and memories of its original members.

Lajna Ima’illah (the women’s auxiliary of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community)

Maidservants of Allah: Muslim Women in Perspective

Through personal stories of Muslim women in Lajna Ima’illah, the web series Maidservants of Allah dispels common misconceptions of Islam by foregrounding its true beauty.

Masjid Freehaven

Masjid Freehaven: The Struggle, the Sacrifice and the Gift

Masjid Freehaven: The Struggle, the Sacrifice and the Gift chronicles the history of the Masjid Freehaven community, established through faith and struggle for a breath of freedom.

Masjid Muhammad

Get to Know Us: Keeping Islam Simple & Serving the Common People

Through their entrepreneurial and humanist approach to Islam and the desire for community, Masjid Muhammad continues to build a place for Muslims to organize and to serve the needs of Philadelphia in the face of great adversity.

Masjidullah

Masjidullah: Struggle for Human Excellence

Masjidullah: Struggle for Human Excellence looks into Masjidullah’s origin, development, and visions for the future.

Moorish Science Temple of America, Inc., Temple #11

The Moorish Science Temple of America: Branches to Philadelphia, Rooted in Peace

The Moorish Science Temple of America highlights its one hundred years of existence as one of the first Islamic organizations in America, and its historical impact in Philadelphia.

Muslim Student Association at the University of Pennsylvania

A Place to Build Our Community: Penn MSA’s 50th Anniversary Documentary Film

A Place to Build Our Community explores different spaces at the University of Pennsylvania and in West Philadelphia that have housed the main activities of Penn MSA throughout its 50 years history, emphasizing the relationship between community and space over time.

QAAMS (Qa’id Ameer Abdul Majeed Staten Hajj Foundation)

This film documents the Muslim youth group, QAAMS, whose main objective is to send its members on Hajj. The film delves into the lives of QAAMS’ members and their journeys, drawing on the contrasts of its Senior and Junior council members.

The New Africa Center (Islamic Cultural Preservation and Information Council, ICPIC)

Lost No More

Lost No More focuses on the transition and evolution of the Lost-Found Nation of Islam, after the death of its leader the Hon. Elijah Muhammad in February 1975, from a Black consciousness/social protest/religious movement to a faith practice following traditional Islam under the leadership of his son, Imam W. D. Mohammed.

 

Islam In Philadelphia

Islam’s presence in the Philadelphia area goes back several centuries. We know of Muslim travelers visiting Philadelphia in the 18th and early 19th century, including Abdul Rahman, a West-African prince, who came to the city in 1830. Rahman, who had spent forty years in slavery, was subsequently freed by order of President John Quincy Adams.

Later in the 19th century, small numbers of North African and Turkish Muslims immigrated to the region. African-American converts have added substantially to the city’s Muslim population. In the early part of the twentieth century, Philadelphia saw an increase in Islamic presence with important formative events such as the founding of the local Moorish Science Temple and the establishment of a mosque by the Albanian community.

Waves of immigration from all over the world, including the Middle East, North and West Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Indonesia, have added to the Muslim population. In 2014, Philadelphia is home to Muslims from every part of the world and every faith tradition, including Sunni, Shia, Salafi, Sufi, Nation of Islam and Ahmadiyya. The aim of the Muslim Voices of Philadelphia project is to capture this history and diversity.

Project Pilot

During the planning phase of Muslim Voices, two participating groups produced the following pilot projects through Scribe Video Center:

The Sun Rises in Philadelphia (10:00min)

Lajna Imaillah, Women’s Auxilliary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community documents and highlights the Ahmadiyya Muslim community’s historical beginnings in Philadelphia in the early 1920s along with the community’s lively activities, unique educational efforts, and contributions to this city spanning nearly a century. Interviews with early converts and pioneering community members, archival documents and personal photographs, along with contemporary footage of community activities and Philadelphia sites that played a pivotal role in the Ahmadiyya Muslim community’s development, provide the viewer with a deeper appreciation of Philadelphia and the Ahmadiyya Muslim community’s roots and impact on the people of this diverse city.

Seeds of Awakening: The Early Nation of Islam in Philadelphia (14:00min)

The New Africa Center has produced a video documenting the development and growth of the Nation of Islam in Philadelphia circa late 50’s-early 60’s. Told through first hand accounts by pioneers of the community, this video paints a portrait of a black nationalist, social reform movement that inspired self determination and economic development within the African American community. Discover how through the Nation of Islam a community developed and experience how Islam affected their lives and the community around them.