The art of giving: Altmuslimah’s Painted Gala

On a beautiful summer afternoon in Moorestown, NJ on Sunday, June 28th, Altmuslimah held its Painted Gala, featuring a successful art auction with pieces donated from all over the world, a delicious meal, a fashion display, henna art, and live performances by The Kominas and sitar player Omar Waqar.

Altmuslimah’s Delaware Valley launch party, The Painted Gala, was a day full of celebration and art appreciation. Thanks to a dedicated team of organizers we enjoyed a great turn out on a beautiful summer afternoon in Moorestown, NJ on Sunday, June 28th. A successful art auction with pieces donated from all over the world preceded a delicious meal and live performances by The Kominas and sitar player Omar Waqar. The evening also included a fashion display, henna art, and concluded with an edible work-of-art for dessert: gourmet petits fours crafted to represent the four seasons of the year.

The Altmuslimah team would like to extend a special thanks to Sarah Rashid and her family for their generosity, Imran Eba and the Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals – Philadelphia Chapter for co-organizing the event, the artists for donating beautiful work for the auction to help raise funds for Altmuslimah’s anti-domestic violence work, and finally to our sponsors. Below is a complete list of contributing artists and sponsors.

Contributing Artists

Derek Brown

Derek Brown is a New York Based travel Photographer. His work from over thirty countries has published in guidebooks, textbooks, magazines, and newspapers through out the world.

Afghan Communicator & Chelcherogh (Artist: Mr Waqaf)

Afghan Communicator & Chelcherogh supports struggling artists in Afghanistan by connecting them, women and men, to the international market. The owner of the company, Rameen Javid, said, “I sent this particular piece to say that even if Afghanistan is far removed from many people’s everyday, and even if the media portrays a certain aspect of the situation, and even if much has been destroyed in Afghanistan, beauty still exists here.” The vegetal or Arabesque in a very intricate and detailed Behzad design was shipped from Kabul, Afghanistan for The Painted Gala and took Mr. Waqaf two full days from conception to completion.

Orders for calligraphy and miniatures of any size are welcome. Items will be delivered in less than four weeks to any destination from Afghanistan.


German designer, Melih Kesmen, founded the apparel company StyleIslam three years ago. His vision was to combine edgy urban designs with a Muslim message. StyleIslam now retails internationally.

Maha Alkhateeb

Drawing on her background in social justice advocacy and academic research, Maha is a fine art and documentary photographer. She seeks to capture moments of introspection through diverse lenses, from storytelling to images meant to catalyze positive change. In her photographic essays, she hopes to create a meaningful and lasting impact on communities by sensitively interpreting their social experiences. Ms. Alkhateeb’s recent photographic essay Spirited Tenacity highlights the initiatives of American Muslim women leaders.

Fatima Kazmi

Fatima is an artist working in Toronto, Canada. She studied art in Delhi achieving her BFA, and has been creating art for the last 18 years. She started in the traditional medium of oil and canvas, and has now moved to working with wood, oils and fire. The predominant theme in her art has been women and their awakening. When she is not painting, she conducts workshops for disadvantaged children, single mothers and at women’s shelters, using art to soothe the mind, awaken creativity and build self-confidence.

Hayat Gul

Hayat Gul studied graphic design at the Pratt Institute and fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She currently produces unique pieces of Islamic art using, as her medium, shattered glass and mirror pieces to form Qur’anic script. Out of destruction, she says, comes renewal.

Rania Mady

Rania Mady comes from an Information Technology background. As a photographer, she gravitates toward images that reflect the beauty of God’s creation, pictures that trigger curiosity, introspection, and desire to understand humanity from a different prism. As a traveler, she loves meeting new people and appreciating the intrinsic beauty that lies at the core of the human spirit. Her pictures of people intend to capture the beauty or mystery she sees in them and how they positively impact her in subtle ways. Her photographic narrative entails compositions that consist of vibrant colors, lights, shadows, rustic elements, and images that evoke a sense of wonder, spirituality, and peace represented in people, architecture, nature, or abstract objects.

Asif Iqbal

Asif Iqbal is pursuing a career in medicine while also satisfying his love for the aesthetics through watercolor as his medium. He uses the power of color to make bold statements and express strong emotion. His paintings have auctioned for various charities in the Michigan area.

Rabea Chaudhry

While studying Comparative Literature, Rabea Chaudhry learned that to truly analyze stories and narratives one must look beyond the surface of the texts. Class discussion and reflection would reveal the multiplicity of the literature and provide deep insight into the human condition. To Rabea, the complex nuances of the works she studied resembled the layers of a painting. Today, Rabea uses layering in her paintings to convey the poignant intricacy of the world we all share. Each of her works is a narrative and an attempt to move beyond a surface telling of our story.

Impak: Pakistan Service Corps (Photograph by Mashael Yazdanie)

Impak inspires and engages motivated individuals from all over the world to build partnerships that promote a cultural, technical, and experiential exchange; while making a positive and lasting difference in Pakistan and the global community. Mashael Yazdanie, a systems design engineer from Ontario, Canada, made a photographic documentation of her experience as an Impak fellow.

Zahra Saeed

Zahra Saeed just released her Fall 2009 collection which remains true to the designer’s signature blend of fitted forms and flowing fabrics. Saeed´s influence is as far spread as the inspirations behind her designs. With distribution in the fine boutiques in Europe, England and the Kingdom of Bahrain, as well as her flagship store in Philadelphia, Saeed has a worldwide fashion presence.

Sarah Uddin

Sarah Uddin is a contributing photographer for She is currently working on a visual campaign to promote positive images of gender-in-Islam. Pieces from her collection will be featured at ISNA’s Art Exhibit this weekend in DC.


Hijabman uses humor and his love for photography to counteract the images of Muslims in the mainstream Western media. His shirts are a medium through which he hopes to make people think beyond what they are normally taught to believe about Muslims.

Salma Arastu

Salma Arastu has been painting for more than thirty years. Born into the Hindu tradition in her native India, she later embraced Islam through marriage. At birth, she was given the life-defining challenge of a left hand without fingers. Seeing the unity of an all-encompassing God, she was able to transcend barriers often set forth in the traditions of religion, culture and the cultural perceptions of handicaps. Her personal triumphs have been defined and shaped by the simple principle of faith in The Divine, the compelling force which has guided her life and work. As a woman, a Hindu, a Muslim and a multi-cultural artist and a mother, she sees a unique opportunity to create harmony and world transformation through the expression of the Universal in her art.

Qamar Ulain Khan

Qamar Ulain Khan masterfully creates works of square kufi style of Islamic calligraphy. This complex geometric art form is commonly seen on the walls and ceilings of mosques.

Nadia Janjua

Nadia Janjua’s art draws from her faith. “One day after prayer, while I was making supplication, I became distracted by my hands, and how multi-colored they were,” she writes, “these were the hands that Allah had given me: dark under the nails, brown on the outside, white on the inside, and a blended line of distinction down the profile of my hand.” Nadia is an architect by profession.

Shehnaz Patel

Graphic designer by profession, Shehnaz Patel is the go-to henna artist for brides in the South Jersey and Philadelphia area.

Mona and Leena Lari

A prominent Weichert real estate agent in South Jersey, Mona and her daughter, Leena, are art enthusiasts. Leena submitted a unique piece of spray paint art for the youth contribution portion of the event.

Our sponsors for the event were as follows:

Coconut Bay Asian Cuisine, Voorhees, NJ

Classic Cake Co., Voorhees, NJ
Winner of Philly’s Best Bakery, 2008

Gagan Palace, Stratford, NJ

Zaki Enayetullah for the gourmet desserts

Shazia Riaz is Associate Editor of Altmuslimah

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