“The Story So Far …” hosted by Tendisai Cromwell and produced by the Silk Road Institute is a podcast that explores a broad range of artistic expression by Muslim artists in Canada, through the eyes of the artists themselves. From music to literature, film, design, fashion and more, we invite you on a journey into the minds and creative practices of some of the most talented and inspiring Muslims creating art in Canada today.




Episode 18: Mohamed Shaheen

In the eighteenth episode of The Story So Far, host Tendisai speaks to Silk Road Institute’s Artistic Director and Board Chair, Mohamed Shaheen about how SRI grew from an emerging theatre company to an established multidisciplinary arts organization aiming to increase the representation of Muslims in the arts and culture sector in Canada. 

About the artist:

Dr. Mohamed Shaheen he founded the Silk Road Institute in 2013. He now serves as the organization’s Chair of the Board of Directors. His writings have appeared in the Globe and Mail and the Montreal Gazette, and he has been featured on CBC Radio One. He is also an avid photographer.

Episode 17: Nasim Asgari

In the seventeenth episode of The Story So Far, host Tendisai speaks to poet, songwriter and visual artist Nasim Asgari about how she taps into her Iranian heritage through her work, the importance of being a politically engaged person, and her connection and conviction in Islam and how it informs every aspect of her life.

About the artist:

Nasim has been writing since the age of 9, and performing since she was 12 years old. Her work has been featured in art exhibitions, movies and poetry slams. Nasim’s debut poetry book, what was swept under the persian rug, was released in 2018, and features poetry she wrote between the ages of 12 and 17.

Episode 16: Hana Shafi

In the sixteenth episode of The Story So Far, host Tendisai speaks to illustrator and writer Hana Shafi, also known as Frizz Kid about her work, her connection to faith and art, and how her art is a form of joy, resistance, and healing.

About the artist:

Hana’s expansive body of work includes a series of illustrated affirmations she started in March 2016 and two poetry books, It begins with the Body and Small, Broke and Kind of Dirty. Her work often explores feminism, body politics, racism and pop culture. 

Episode 15: Leila Fatemi

In the fifteenth episode of The Story So Far, host Tendisai speaks to artist and photographer Leila Fatemi about her relationship with Islam and how it plays out in her art, her artistic process, and what she hopes people take from her work.

About the artist:

Leila Fatemi is an emerging artist, curator and community arts worker based in Tkaronto/Toronto. Living between cultures, her work and curatorial endeavours stem from her daily experiences as a visible minority and aim to provide platforms and contribute alternative narratives to conversations of ethnic representation in contemporary art.  

Episode 14: Ahmed Moneka

In the fourteenth episode of The Story So Far, host Tendisai speaks to performing artist Ahmed Moneka about his childhood in Iraq and his family’s enduring influence on his work as well as Afro-Iraqi history, Sufi rituals and teachings and the experience of exile and diaspora in Toronto.

About the artist:

Ahmed was the first Black Iraqi to host a TV program, and was a theater actor in several different companies. His work as co-writer and actor in the film The Society, premiered at TIFF in 2015. He now lives in Toronto, where he is one of the co-founders of Moskitto Bar and Moneka Arabic Jazz. 

Episode 13: Sophie El-Assaad

In the thirteenth episode of The Story So Far, host Tendisai speaks to award-winning, interdisciplinary artist and theater designer, Sophie El-Assaad about her distinct perspective on creating authentic work, the nature of memory and how one goes about retaining their culture across time and space.

About the artist:

Sophie background in the arts spans from textiles to video art to costume design, painting and much more. Sophie’s work explores the relationship between the body and the materials that surround it and often touches on ecofeminism and her Lebanese heritage.


Episode 12: Hamza Haq

In the twelfth episode of The Story So Far, host Tendisai to speaks award-winning actor Hamza Haq about his journey as an actor and how his roles have helped him learn about himself, what it means to play Muslims roles and the state of the industry as it pertains to Muslim and Pakistani characters and much more.

About the artist:

Hamza’s career on screen began with various roles in television series and later, in film. Hamza’s credits include Quantico, The Indian Detective, This Life and The Transplant, in which he has a leading role. 


Episode 11: Narcy

In the eleventh episode of The Story So Far, host Tendisai to speaks rapper, author and university instructor Yassin Alsalman, also known by his stage name, Narcy, about the making of his albums and his book Text Messages or How I Found Myself Time Traveling, what it means to create art amidst the current political and social climate, and his thoughts on his impact inside and outside the classroom.

About the artist:

Narcy began working in music production at a local Montreal studio in 2000 and since then, has released 10 albums and EPs as a solo artist. His most recent solo album, Love & Chaos, was released in 2020 and recorded over a five-week period during the first year of the pandemic. 


Episode 10: Kareem Fahmy

In the tenth episode of The Story So Far, host Tendisai to speaks with director, playwright and screenwriter Kareem Fahmy about his plays and his approach to writing them, how he grapples with multiple identities and the process and necessity of writing Muslim stories.

About the artist:

Kareem Fahmy is the director of a number of world premieres, including Victor Lesniewski’s The Fifth Domain and James Scruggs’s 3/Fifths. His own plays include works such Dodi & Diana, American Fast, and A Distinct Society and have premiered with critical acclaim across the United States. 

Episode 9: Tammy Gabber

In the ninth episode of The Story So Far, host Tendisai to speaks with Dr. Tammy Gaber, Director and Associate Professor at the McEwen School of Architecture, where she teaches architecture design and theory courses. She takes audiences on a journey throughout her research, from the history of mosque design to its evolution as well as much more.

About the artist:

From 2015-2017, Dr. Tammy Gaber traveled across Canada to photograph, draw and collect oral and written histories of 90 mosques across 53 cities. Dr. Gaber’s research culminated in the groundbreaking book “Beyond the Divide: A Century of Canadian Mosque Design“, which is one of the first comprehensive studies of mosque histories in Canada.

Episode 8: Osama Dorias

In the eighth episode of The Story So Far, host Tendisai to speaks with game designer, Osama Dorias. He gives us an insider look into the gaming industry, his experience as a Muslim game developer and how his career has led him to give back to the industry by creating spaces for other marginalized game developers.

About the artist:

Osama Dorias is the current lead game designer at Warner Brothers Games Montreal and teaches “Game Design” at Dawson College. He has over 10 years of experience in the gaming industry, and has worked at studios like Ubisoft, Gameloft, Minority Media and GEE Media. 

Episode 7: Uzma Jalaluddin

In the seventh episode of The Story So Far, host Tendisai to speaks with novelist, teacher and contributing columnist for the Toronto Star, Uzma Jalaluddin. They discussed the role writers play as observers, navigating motherhood and a professional career and why she enjoys writing romance novels in particular.

About the artist:

Uzma Jalaluddin is the author of Ayesha at Last, and Hana Khan Carries On, the latter of which has been optioned by Amazon Studios and Mindy Kailing. This year, she will release two new books, Much Ado About Nada and Three Holidays and a Wedding, a joint novel written with fellow Canadian author Marissa Stapley.

Episode 6: Timaj Garad

In the sixth episode of The Story So Far, host Tendisai to speaks with award-winning spoken word artist Timaj Garad. She talks about her artistic process as it’s connected to faith and Blackness, and also how she’s used her experiences to create art that reflects joy as resistance and empowerment.

About the artist:

Timaj Garad is the co-founder of Kitchner-Waterloo’s first Slam Poetry organization. She’s performed her spoken word poetry on over 300 stages and, in 2021, released her debut EP “Blooming at the Mouth.” She’s known for  her multi-disciplinary approach to storytelling, and also for her advocacy work and for founding LUMINOUS Fest, Canada’s first Black Muslim Arts Festival.

Episode 5: Aquil Virani

In the fifth episode of The Story So Far, Aquil joined host Tendisai to speak about his expansive portfolio of work, which often integrates public participation. He discusses the importance of community in his life and his art, how he navigates creating socially-conscious work, his relationship with faith and art and how they interconnect.

About the artist:

Aquil Virani is an award-winning visual artist and filmmaker. In the 2017 aftermath of the Quebec City Mosque shooting, Aquil had attendees of a vigil contribute to a live painting, where they were asked to write messages over Muslims hands in prayer. In 2021, he designed and produced a bilingual art anthology of Ottawa-based Muslim artists and writers called “Ottawa Inshallah.” In 2022, Aquil unveiled six commemorative portraits of the Quebec City mosque shooting victims.

Episode 4: Saïda Ouchaou-Ozarowski

In the fourth episode of The Story So Far, Saida joined host Tendisai in studio to speak about her experience working in the newsroom as a Muslim woman post 9/11, the idea of belonging while navigating multiple cultures and languages, and how her documentary work challenges Muslim stereotypes.

About the artist:

Saïda Ouchaou-Ozarowski, who is a digital news producer for Radio-Canada and documentary filmmaker known for her recent NFB film, “In Full Voice. Born in France to Algerian parents with Berber heritage, Saïda studied law in Paris and was involved in community organizations from a young age and became a city councillor by 20.

Episode 3: Afua Cooper

In the third episode of The Story So Far, Afua joined us from Halifax, to speak about the origins of dub poetry, the history of Black Canadian Muslims, and how spirituality and faith have informed her work. In the end, you’ll get to hear her recite some of her poems.

About the artist:

Dr. Afua Cooper is a historian, dub-poet, and author. She’s also a professor in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Dalhousie University and the Principal Investigator of the research project, A Black People’s History of Canada. In 2018 she served as the Poet Laureate of Halifax, where she currently resides.

Episode 2: Zarqa Nawaz

In the second episode of The Story So Far, Zarqa joined us from her home in Regina, to speak about how she has evolved as an artist, the challenges she’ s faced as a Muslim writer and producer, and her relationship with humour in her work and much more.

About the artist:

Zarqa is a producer, author, public speaker, journalist, actress, and former broadcaster. She created the highly regarded CBC comedy series, Little Mosque on the Prairie. This year, she released her new eponymous CBC web series called Zarqa, as well as published her latest novel, Jameela Green Ruins Everything.

Episode 1: Omar El Akkad

In our very first  episode of The Story So Far, Omar joined us from Portland, where he currently resides, to speak about how his childhood has shaped his writing, the representation of Muslims in the media, the banality of evil present in both of his novels, and more.

About the artist:

Omar is an Egyptian-Canadian-American journalist and the author of the two  best-selling novels of American War and What Strange Paradise.


Tendisai Cromwell is a Toronto-based writer and filmmaker. She previously served as the Executive Director of the Regent Park Film Festival and as the founding Creative Director of New Narrative Films. Her writing has been published in BESIDE Magazine, Santa Ana River Review and elsewhere. Tendisai is currently writing her debut novel. An excerpt of her novel was shortlisted for the 2017 Ross and David Mitchell Prize for Faith and Writing.


“The Story So Far” is a Silk Road Institute production, and was funded by the Canada Council for the Arts’ Digital Now grant. The show was produced by and researched by Ahsan Moghul. Scriptwriting and editing by Annum Shah, additional script editing by Tendisai Cromwell. The Executive Producer and Creative Director is Mohamed Shaheen. Music composed and orchestrated by Suad Bushnaq. Marketing and communications by Nawal Salim. Sound editing and mixing by Mark Knox at NewSound Productions. Music editing and mixing by Henry Mitton. Solo violin by Layth Sidiq. Graphic design by Hamza Ali. Special thanks to Silk Road Institute’s Programs and Development Manager Mariam Zaidi.

For all our episodes, and to support Silk Road Institute’s future programming, visit silkroadinstitute.ca.