Juhi Farooqui. Founder, Manifest Creativity
Where do we learn what it means to be Muslim?
For many of us, the primary centers wherein Islam and our Muslim identity are defined for us are our homes and our Mosques. Living, working, and coming of age in a secular society means that our models of how to be Muslim are primarily shaped by our families and explicitly religious communities. For those of us who are immigrants or children of immigrants, those definitions and understandings are fundamentally shaped by the lens of our originating cultures.
It is critical if we are to transcend those definitions and reclaim the inclusivity of Islam, that we create third (safe) spaces for the Muslim community. A third space can be thought of as an alternative to the primary and secondary social spaces we occupy (e.g. home and work), a safe space which allows and celebrates the uniqueness of each person as determined by the cultural and historical factors that shape them. It blurs boundaries in order to create new possibilities.
The mission of the Few of a Kind store positions it as a third (safe) space for Muslims in Pittsburgh. Supporting everything from entrepreneurship to the arts, the store welcomes a diverse array of Muslims and Muslim-centered activities. The community space in the store is home to events ranging from author talks to film screenings, community discourses to frank discussions of taboo topics to artistic open stages. This multifaceted approach to the community makes Few of a Kind store the kind of space that Muslims from all backgrounds and walks of life can claim as their own. It is here that we can define for ourselves what it means to be Muslim.
Note by Malak Bokhari: Our space welcomes all Muslims from all backgrounds. We are united in our diversity under the banner of absolute monotheism ( Tawhid) which translates to submission and acceptance of our divinely inspired values. This doesn’t negate doubts and questioning. Seeking knowledge and correct understanding of our faith is foundational and must be pursued by all adult Muslims. We hope by engaging in an open non-judgmental discussion we can strengthen our faith and support each other.