Pillars Fund

Khayál: A Multimedia Collection by Muslim Creatives

Posted By Su’ad Abdul Khabeer, Maytha Alhassen, Zaheer Ali, Asad Ali Jafri, Omar Offendum, Hussein Rashid  /   June 27, 2023

It starts with imagination. To build a more beautiful world, we need the creativity to look beyond what is and envision what could be.

While the dominant cultural narratives about Muslims are tired, inaccurate, and downright dangerous, we believe our people have what it takes to get to a better place. And Pillars Muslim Narrative Change (MNC) Fellows are guiding the way.

In January 2020, Pillars assembled a group of brilliant Muslim thinkers to use their unique experiences and expertise to develop a roadmap for telling authentic Muslim stories: enter the MNC Fellows.

These fellows are poets, writers, activists, scholars, historians, and artists who deeply understand the power of stories to shape our lives. For more than three years, they’ve taken on the big questions: How are Muslims represented in the media? How can we challenge damaging stereotypes? How do we empower Muslims to tell our own stories? The MNC Fellows have been thought partners, helping Pillars build our Culture Change program from the ground up, and offered valuable mentorship (fondly nicknamed “Muslim Artist Therapy”) to the emerging directors and writers in our Pillars Artist Fellowship.

To honor the MNC Fellows’ contributions to Pillars, we’ve assembled a collection of essays and meditations that gave our fellows the freedom to explore whatever they find interesting. No restrictions, no limits. The result: Khayál: A Multimedia Collection by Muslim Creatives, a collection co-authored by the brilliant minds of the MNC.


The title Khayál nods to a rich conversation in Islamic cultures of interpreting and discussing imagination. This Eid al-Adha, we offer this digital, multimedia collection as a gift from Pillars to our community.

Page through to learn about the creative inhale with Zaheer Ali, examine Malcolm X’s letters with Maytha Alhassen, dive into philosophy with Hussein Rashid, explore Su’ad Abdul Khabeer’s memories of ’90s Brooklyn, go behind the scenes of Omar Offendum’s hip hopera Little Syria, and experience Asad Ali Jafri’s comic from the future.

We hope this collection sparks your imagination as it did ours.

We want to extend a special thank you to Pop Culture Collaborative for their support and collaboration on this project and to Pillars Program Manager Aya Nimer for shepherding this project from its inception to its final form. We could not have done it without you!



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