Shems Friedlander, professor of practice in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at The American University in Cairo (AUC), has been selected by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center (RISSC) as one of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims. RISSC is an independent research entity affiliated with the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, which is an international Islamic non-governmental, independent institute headquartered in Amman, Jordan. Friedlander received the award in the category of art and culture. “I feel honored to be recognized as both an artist and representative of AUC,” said Friedlander, whose paintings and photographs were recently exhibited in the Istanbul Contemporary Art Fair, which featured some of the world’s most prestigious international projects, art initiatives and publications.
With a career spanning more than 30 years, Friedlander is a photographer, graphic designer, documentary filmmaker, painter, poet and educator. He is the author of nine books including Rumi: The Hidden Treasure, The Whirling Dervishes, Ninety-Nine Names of Allah and Submission: Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. He has received more than 30 awards, including the Silver Award of the New York Art Directors Club. Friedlander’s photographs and paintings have been exhibited worldwide, and his documentary films have been shown at film festivals in the United States, at the Musee de l’Homme in Paris and at AUC. Most recently, his documentary film titled Faisal: Legacy of a King premiered at the BAFTA Theatre in London and was featured in the 2012 Chagrin Documentary Film Festival. The film is the first, full-fledged documentary on King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, and includes interviews with historians, scholars, family members, diplomats and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Friedlander also wrote and directed the documentary film, Rumi: The Wings of Love, in 2001, for which he received the first Sony Video Filmmaker Award, and wrote, directed and produced The Circles of Remembrance. To Friedlander, art in its various forms is the best language of communication. “Man has lost the sense of beauty in many aspects of life, but art remains as an important means of expression, one where people are not caught in semantics or linguistics,” he said. “Art can help people communicate their thoughts and feelings more sincerely, and ultimately, it is up to the viewer to unravel the hidden meanings.”