Art Seen

One Photographer’s Series Will Capture The Diversity Of Muslims Across All 50 U.S. States

“We are your neighbors, friends, and colleagues, and we come in all shapes and colors.”

Carlos Khalil Guzman is on a mission: the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based photographer has made it his goal to dispel the stereotypes of the Muslim community in America, one state at a time.

By photographing subjects from each state across the country who identify as Muslim, Guzman is showing firsthand how vastly diverse the community is through his photo series, Muslims of America.

"As a photographer, I know that art has been used throughout history as a tool to fight oppression in various social movements, such as the fight to end apartheid in South Africa, to the Palestinian struggle to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine, to Black Lives Matter," he told A Plus.

"With the rise of Islamophobia in the States and abroad, with the latest terrorist attack committed against 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen, where she was abducted and beaten to death for being Muslim, I felt the need to be proactive and use my craft to reclaim our Muslim narrative," Guzman continued, "one that continues to be distorted by the mainstream media."

Each subject — which are primarily women due to the targeted prejudice against them, and includes Syrian refugees and a Native American Muslim, who protested the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock — chooses their favorite verse of the Quran, which helps them cope with the present-day hate against Muslims.

The diversity among the Muslims he's photographed is not just in the way they look but in the cultural descent they represent, which includes Palestinian, Filipino, Ecuadorian, Somali, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Moroccan, Lebanese, and African-American Muslims.


"We are your neighbors, friends, and colleagues, and we come in all shapes and colors," Guzman said. "We are an integral part of what makes this nation what it is today, and our values as Muslims are the same values found in our Constitution, justice and equality for all, to name a few."

The 28-year-old photographer is set on capturing subjects in each of the 50 states from New York to Hawaii for this ongoing photo series. The project is self-funded by Guzman, who has spent the past year and a half dedicating his weekends and days off from his full-time gig to add to the series, which he hopes will culminate with 114 portraits by year's end. He specifically chose that number of portraits to represent the 114 suras, or chapters, in the Quran.

"Just like poetry, photography has the power to reach people's hearts," he told A Plus. "To put it in simple terms, photography moves people. It has the power to find the humanity that is in all of us. A good example is the photo of Aylan Kurdi, the 3-year-old who drowned as his family tried to flee from Syria to Europe. It brought the plight to the Syrian people to the world and, in many ways, forced it to act."

Guzman's major goal with Muslims ofAmerica is to eventually turn the project into a traveling exhibit. In the meantime, he's saving up to travel to states such as Hawaii and Colorado, and is still in need of Muslim subjects in Mississippi, Missouri, and Idaho.

See the diversity of the Muslim community for yourself through some of Carlos Khalil Guzman's photo series:

1. Adna

2. Yusef

3. Linda

4. Shadi

5. Noor

6. Lulu

7. Kendyl

8. Samah

(H/T: NBC News)


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