The Muslim Protagonist 2014

The Muslim Protagonist: A Synthesis of Journeys

a symposium of Muslim and minority writers, artists & scholars
February 22, 2014

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Get Your Tickets Today!

Tickets are now available online for the main event on Feb. 22, and more info about the speakers and symposium can be found at

Volunteer for the conference!

Interested in becoming a part of Columbia University MSA’s Second Annual Writer’s Symposium? Volunteer to be a part of this year’s Muslim Protagonist! In addition to receiving free admission, you’ll get the opportunity to be a part of something extremely unique and groundbreaking! Sign up via this Google Form before Sunday, February 16th to be a part of this spectacular journey!

Call For Submissions: Protag

Protag is the blog and online magazine of The Muslim Protagonist Symposium, a place for writers, artists, and thinkers of all faiths and cultures to publish fiction and nonfiction on literature and art as agents of social, spiritual, and intellectual change. Here, the word “Protag” does not apply only to Muslims—it is, at its simplest, a mere abbreviation of “protagonist.” It is a call for people of all marginalized or “Otherized” backgrounds to be protagonists in their own fields,  to challenge mainstream assumptions and proactively—rather than reactively—produce their own narratives and write their own stories. In addition to submissions, updates and news on The Muslim Protagonist Symposium, and related projects, will be also posted on the blog.

Writers and artists of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to submit pieces to ProtagSubmissions must address or relate to literature or art as agents of social, spiritual, or intellectual change in some way. All work will be reviewed and select pieces will be published and publicized here. Selected pieces from each year’s submissions will be published in the print magazine entitled, Protag.

About The Symposium

Last year, in order to address the growing need for a Muslim voice in the great sea of American literature, Columbia MSA invited renowned novelists, playwrights, journalists and academics—including Mohsin Hamid, Naif Al-Mutawa, Wajahat Ali, Daniyal Mueenuddin, Musa Syeed, Anita Amirrezvani. Reza Aslan, Kamran Pasha, and many more—to Columbia for a weekend filled with inspiration and wisdom. The symposium, a series of talks, panels, and workshops held during the weekend of November 10th, attracted over 300 attendees from all over the northeast including Boston, Penn, Princeton, Yale and Rutgers. Focusing on writing and art as agents of social change, the event shed light on the importance of the Muslim protagonist in a post-9/11 America, and gave prominent Muslim and non-Muslim writers of this generation the opportunity to discuss their experiences within an emerging American-Muslim literary community. Last year’s symposium, entitled “The Muslim Protagonist: Write your own story”, received coverage from The Huffington Post to Pakistan’s Express Tribune, and was lauded by speakers and attendees as “groundbreaking.”

This year, we will build on the previous year’s remarkable success and delve deeper into the issue of the minority narrative in a unique and thoughtful way, bringing together writers from diverse minority communities in America, and writers of diverse dimensions, past and future. We will ask, what makes a protagonist? Who has she/he been in the past, in classic Muslim literature, and who is she/he re-imagined to be in the distant future or in an alternative present? What can we learn from the diverse immigrant and “indigenous” narratives of today in America, and what do we know from the emergent Muslim narrative already taking form?

Exclusive Videos from The Muslim Protagonist 2012

A Conversation
with Mohsin Hamid
A Conversation
with Daniyal Mueenuddin
A Conversation
with Naif Al-Mutawa


Welcoming Remarks
Shaykh Khalil Abdur-Rashid; Abdul Rafay Hanif
Behind the Story of the Muslim Protagonist
Haris Durrani; Mirzya Syed
Keynote Address
Reza Aslan
Exclusive Video
Naif Al-Mutawa
The Muslim Protagonist Board
Speaking Truth to Power
Ibrahim Abdul-Matin; Wajahat Ali; Reza Aslan
Writing In Context
Lila Abu-Lighod; Richard Bulliet
The Muslim Protagonist Board
Exclusive Video
Mohsin Hamid
Heroes and Anti-heroes in Narrative
Anita Amirrezvani; Jim McGoldrick; Nikoo Kafi
Exclusive Video
Daniyal Muennideen
The Muslim Protagonist Board
The Other: On Screen and On Stage
Jacob Kader; Kamran Pasha; Musa Syeed; Sahar Ullah
Face to Face (mod. by Ibrahim Abdul-Matin)
Wajahat Ali; Kamran Pasha
Concluding Remarks
The Muslim Protagonist Board