Manchester Islamic Arts and Music Festival announces summer program

A Manchester-based festival celebrating Islamic art, music and culture from around the world will debut this summer. The festival, born out of a need for creativity during confinement, will welcome a collection of renowned artists from different backgrounds to create “new relevant, innovative and progressive work”.

The Salaam Festival kicks off July 20-25 and launches five new commissions, including a new composition based on the work of poet Mohammed Iqbal, an installation by the Jameel Sofia Karim Award-nominated artist, and an immersive opening ceremony. with the award-winning chef. Anissa Helou.

The city center will also host five nights of music across different venues spanning the five-day festival with free programming in the “Medina” – the hub of the festival which will be available daily from 12pm to 10:20pm from 21 to July 25. It will also host ‘Sohbet’ (Persian and Turkish for ‘conversation’), a daily conversation series breaking down many aspects of Islamic culture from around the world which will be available from 12pm to 1pm July 21-25.

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Rizawan Iqbal, Artistic Director of Salaam Festival, said: “This is a landmark event in our multicultural city. In order to change the way we engage with, experience and interpret art, it is important to be seen and heard by producing relevant and high quality work. .”

Salaam Opening Ceremony

The Salaam Festival will open with Mehfilm a party that invites 500 guests to discover Muslim arts and culture of the past, present and future. The opening ceremony will feature artistic directors Jean-Hervé Vidal and Mehdi Ben Sheikh of Zaman Productions who will present an acoustic and visual set by Noureddine Kourchid and the Whirling Dervishes of Damascus.

The opening ceremony will also feature Sufi singers Deba de Meyotte and Tunisian street artist Mohamed Koumenji, also known as Koom. The ceremony cuisine will be presented by award-winning chef Anissa Hellou who will offer a Moroccan-inspired meal.

Other Commissions

Lal Gate

Sofia Karim’s installation for the festival, Lal Gate, will present Lincoln Square as the site of a public garden dedicated to political prisoners. It will be set in Manchester’s new Peace Garden and will draw inspiration from Islamic gardens while seeking to explore established tropes.

‘Rooted in my theories on the #architecture of disappearance’, the garden is a place of struggle and resistance, a ‘thin place’ where the boundary between the physical and spiritual world dissolves,” Karim said.


Choreographer Abdul ‘Abdanger’ Kinyenya and playwright Courtney Hayles will explore the internal struggle in one man’s journey with a piece of contemporary dance. Muguwa (“rope” in Luganda) is inspired by martial arts and features original music by Faizal Mostrixx while addressing themes of identity, insight, trauma and the transformation of male narrative.

“Since we all go through a struggle on the internet, regardless of our colors, nationalities and tribes, we tend to have conflicting values ​​and desires,” Kinyenya said. “And it is this inner conflict that creates the urge to fight both physically and internally.

“The power of observing and accepting this inner individual process creates an urgency of inquiry and the use of dance choreography as a major driver excites me and values ​​the possibility of creating peace within. .”


Ârōōr/ǎ is an afro-futuristic project in the form of a play/installation that attempts to imagine the possibilities of a Somali future as three war dead in Somalia approach. It takes a critical examination of what a Somali future might look like by combining modern motifs with post-colonial era symbolism.

The play is directed by Yusra Warsama and produced by Numbi Arts.


Salaam Festival aims to reinvent the work of Muhammad Iqbal, a South Asian Muslim writer, philosopher and politician whose Urdu poetry is highly regarded in the 20th century working world. The director of the festival has decided to take a look at one of Iqbal’s most controversial poems. Shikwa (Complaint) which will be written and composed by Rushil Ranjan and performed by Manchester Camerata with Abi Sampa as vocalist.

“To perform such an important work as Allama Iqbal’s Shiwa – in such a new and groundbreaking way – is an opportunity for which I am deeply grateful,” Ranjan said. “To be able to express this interpretation with such an accomplished orchestra as the Manchester Camerata is a real privilege.

“The essence of the poem itself is so deeply spiritual and simultaneously so human – in the most nuanced way.”

The music

  • Sanam Marvi with Elaha Soroor and Kefaya, Thursday July 21, at 02 Ritz.
  • Yazz Ahmen and Kamaal Williams, Friday July 22, at Manchester Academy 2.
  • Ajam Band, Saturday July 23, at Band on the Wall.
  • Digital Africa by Dhafer Youssef with: Ballake Sissoko & Eivind Aarset, Sunday July 24, at Stoller Hall.
  • Arooj Aftab, Monday July 25, at Manchester Cathedral.

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