Artist Hopes to Dispel Muslim Stereotypes

February 8, 2007

Author: Christine Morente

Source: San Mateo County Times

Youssef Ismail's photographs of vibrant and sometimes ethereal landscapes hold a deeper meaning. He says he uses his camera's shutter to reflect his spirituality as a Muslim.

"I have hope that people will understand the spiritual side of the religion of Islam," he said. "It has a deep, rich and spiritual connection. It helps you look at the world, look at the sights that are there to guide you and to make you understand where you came from, where you're going and who you are.

"When you stop and reflect on it, it's eye-opening, and sometimes, it's frightening," Ismail added.

The photographer, whose studio, Organic Light, is based in Campbell, believes he has the ability to change some people's perceptions of Islam.

"Some people get it 100 percent," he said. "People come to my shows, see a photograph and literally start crying. It made me feel wonderful. I don't like doing things without intention, without a purpose. I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing."

Supporting Ismail's mission to share Muslim life with the world and dispel stereotypes pertaining to American Muslims, the Council on American-Islamic Relations is collecting powerful photographs in its American Muslim Legacy Photo Project. The initiative would finally prove that Muslims are like everyone else, said Imam Abdurrahman Anwar of the Muslim Community Association of the Peninsula in Belmont.