Tahir Mirza is a professional graphic designer and father of two who created the Muslim Lifestyle Expo in the UK. We were able to get in touch with him and ask about this event and what drove him to create it.
Q: With the rise of Islamophobia, there is a greater increase in people who seek to counter it. Can you tell us how your idea of the Muslim Lifestyle Expo is helping to counter this upsurge of hatred and ignorance? How did you come up with the idea?
A: Initially, the concept wasn’t about countering the negative portrayal of Muslims. I created it as platform to bring together the growing, vibrant and diverse business sectors to target the untapped Muslim lifestyle market. However, the deeper I went into it, the more I realized the responsibility that MLE brings. It can become a small beacon of positivity in the growing discord between the West and the Muslim world. We receive tons of well wishers from all corners, which to me means a lot. It’s imperative for Muslims to open their doors to non-Muslims and show them that they are more than just the terrorists you see on TV and shatter the negative stereotypes that shroud our religion.
One might say an event won’t change perceptions of Muslims, but if an event is done right, it’ll make people sit up and take notice; make people realize that we aren’t that different after all, that Muslims are business savvy, entrepreneurial, and integrated even. Our events attract the younger generation of Muslims that have adapted to living in the West with a badge that says Muslim and Proud. Non-Muslims have embraced our concept and love the brand proposition. They get it. From our images to our concept and style, our branding plays a key part in our narrative. MLE is aiming for the modern, contemporary market in the UK, and our style reflects that. The brand is confident, contemporary, modern, expressive, and inclusive. The ‘M’ for Muslim says everything we want to say. It’s bold and confident, with a hint of our Islamic culture.
Q: Where did the idea of MLE come from?
It’s all thanks to my wife, even if she didn’t know it at the time. It was a passing remark from her after she had gone to an event and I took it from there. It was my eureka moment! She didn’t realize my brain clicked into gear and wondered how one Muslim Lifestyle event could be a game changer. Immediately I was brimming with ideas, my excitement flooding in about creating this expo and how it could be a fantastic concept that could have huge potential as an event.
Q: When did you decide to turn this idea into a reality?
In November 2013 I began planning, researching, visiting, networking, talking and boring the pants off anyone who was kind enough to listen to my ideas. I told a group of friends in the spring of 2014 about the concept and they loved it. A few months later I told them the venue is booked and we’re now looking for sponsorship and exhibitors!
Q: How can we take part of MLE and join the fun?
We’d love for people to share the event with friends and family. Even better if they can come to the expo and show support. Events are interactive and fun and that’s what we’re building. Without the Ummah’s support this wouldn’t be a success. This is an all-inclusive event. MLE isn’t creating divisions ( unfortunately there’s enough of that already) according to one’s belief and strength of belief. This is art. We’re all included. We leave religion and politics at the door. It’s family friendly so we’re planning something for everyone. The plan is to make this an annual event. MLE welcomes non-Muslims, as Muslims are globally doing exceptional work to reach out and share Islam with non-Muslims, we do the same. MLE is just another vehicle for Muslims to showcase the best of what we bring and have brought to the global community.
Q: What kind of things will we see at the Expo?
We have so many colourful and brilliant exhibits! From puppet shows to delicious food to children’s entertainment and so much more. We’ve got seminars covering topics across the Muslim lifestyle and modest Fashion shows that will include men’s fashion as well. We have a kids play area and top comedy featuring top comic Guzzy Bear, Nasheeds, and a tech zone that features apps for the whole family. We’re in talks with Peter Gould so we can showcase the cool apps he has created. Also – drum roll please – we’re proud to have a Tesla at MLE! Yep, a Tesla. Even I can’t wait to see that!
Visit our website to learn more! http://www.muslimlifestyleexpo.co.uk/
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