THE SIFR: A Global Jam Session

Posted on September 11, 2012

The creators of 30 Mosques have been at it again. This year, along with the gorgeous 30 Days of Ramadan site, which showcased user content from around the world, the team have been releasing a series of short films on various facets of Muslim life. Their latest, released today, is a collaborative original music video, featuring Muslim performers and artists from around the world. Creator Aman Ali gives us the scoop below. 

As a standup comic, I’m lucky to travel the globe to do shows and get inspiration from fellow artists who are doing things light years ahead of me in terms of creativity. And when I think about all these friends, I kept saying to myself “Wouldn’t it be crazy if we did something together?” So that’s what I set out to do. I contacted tons of my music friends around the world, pitching them on the idea of putting together a collaborative music video. I couldn’t find many good examples of one to show them, so I had to rely on my slap-happy enthusiasm in order to convince them to take the time out of their busy recording/touring schedules to contribute to a project I had little-to-no street cred to put together. Luckily, I have lots of friends who do, including my pal Asad Jafri, a DJ and the former Arts and Culture director for the Inner City Muslim Action Network in Chicago. In early August, we put together a list of 20-30 musicians, MCs, poets, and visual artists that we both knew that would be awesome to collaborate with.  We’re all Muslim but we wanted to make a song that was spiritual, but not necessarily overtly Islamic, preachy, or dogmatic. So we decided to center the song around the theme of “blessings.”  We told each artist to create something centered around that theme and encouraged them to take that phrase anywhere that they’d like to creatively.

We got a drummer from Morocco to put together a beautiful rhythm on a Cajon drum, and sent that beat around to our musicians to record their verses over. Then we sent that to our visual artists and told them to create art inspired from the song.  Then we took all of their contributions and worked our ProTools and FinalCut magic in putting it together. That’s where a lot of our stress in putting this project together came in. When you’re working with 20-30 artists on a project, you’re dealing with 20-30 artists who like to set 20-30 different deadlines that are nothing similar to your own, but I digress. The end result is a radiant display of the Muslim art around the world in a celebration in English, German, Arabic, Urdu, and Malay. We’re calling the project The Sifr, the Arabic word for zero, or something infinitely circular. It’s also an obvious play off the word Cypher.  We were really blown away with how good some of these contributions were that for the sake of the video’s length, we had to make difficult decisions to take a lot of the contributions out. So we whittled down our list to 12 artists (8 music artists, 4 visual ones). 


Asad and I really hope viewers enjoy this project as much as we enjoyed putting it together and hopefully there will be more iterations of The Sifr in the future. The world needs to start recognizing that Muslims have swag.


From our blog

  1. ITVS Welcomes Brandii Rice as Head of Business and Legal Affairs

    August 10, 2023

    ITVS is pleased to welcome Brandii Rice as our new Head of Business and Legal Affairs. In her role Rice will oversee business and legal affairs across the ITVS brand portfolio. In addition, she will guide licensing and business strategies to support ITVS’ content development, production, distribution and audience development goals. She will join ITVS

  2. Carrie Lozano Will Lead ITVS as President & CEO, Succeeding Sally Jo Fifer

    June 7, 2023

    Carrie Lozano joins ITVS from the Sundance Institute, where she served as director of Documentary Film and Artist Programs, supporting boundary-breaking filmmakers across the globe. At ITVS, she will continue to protect independent artists’ voices, editorial control and copyright while elevating nonfiction storytelling as an essential strategy

  3. Lisa Tawil Joins the International Board of INPUT

    June 1, 2023

    Discover how Lisa Tawil's appointment to the International Board of INPUT strengthens worldwide collaboration in public media.