Last Sunday, I attended my first meeting hosted by Afikra members in Brooklyn. Afikra is a community based of most young professional Arab Americans, from Middle Eastern origins or interested in Arabic culture. A community that aspires to share the same space and explore a realm of culture, media and a diversity of interesting topics. Not everyone in the room speaks Arabic, but most are familiar with the MENA region. Whether born, studied, or simply interested in the region.
Afikra The name itself plays on words in colloquial Levantine Arabic. When pronounced a’fikra (or 3afikra) it means “by the way”, but if pronounced a fikra it sounds like the English word “a” and the Arabic word “thought”, as in “a thought”.
Afikra meetings are hosted on the last Sunday of every month to network and discuss interesting topics. Every presentation is 45 minutes. Two presenters showcase any topics of interest around the Arab world. In a nut shell, present a topic you are curious about, research through Google and show a few slides or video clips. Mickey Muhanna made an interesting comment to explain presentations,”It doesn’t have to be a dissertation topic or research from Google Scholar.” Afikra meetings host around 50 guests attend, network, drink, eat and listen to cool presentations.
Last night was my first meeting to attend Afikra. My friend suggested the idea and I was on board as usual. What inspired me the most was a diagram one of Afikra members presented in the introduction of the meeting. Afikra is a cultivation of ideas non-exclusive talks about Activism – Religion – and Politics. In other words, Afikra tries to create a space where one does not necessarily confine to a certain category, religion or political agenda, which is what inspired me the most, merely a bunch of cool people interested to share new facts and ideas about the Arab world.
The presenters last night touched on two interesting topics. The first presenter was Hayya Shaath who eloquently explained the definition of a Sufi dance known as Dervish Dancing. A dance that connects the dancer with his creator in the form of a spinning ritual that creates a state of spiritual transcendence. Think of it as our conception of modern meditative yoga, but in this case Vinyasa is in the form of continuous streams of twirls.
The second presentation was by Mickey Muhanna who did a beautiful job introducing us to Omar Al-Sharif, an Egyptian legend actor who passed away in 2015. Mickey presented a synopsis of the actor’s life accomplishments and videos of Sharif’s most famous roles.
Afikra meeting was very inspiring and culturally engaging and I plan to attend monthly gatherings and get to know more of the invitees. New York City has a great platform of young Arabs, Americans and Middle Easterners who truly contribute to the social and intellectual crowd, including a plethora of fields and professions who might share the same joke or tabouli recipe.