Dr. Kashif Irfan is a founding member and President of Deen Arts Foundation. He specializes in Interventional Pain Medicine and is a serial entrepreneur who has founded and operated multiple companies in several different areas. He has been a patron of Muslim artists and a supporter of the Islamic sacred arts for 20 years.
Dr. Kashif Irfan
Zeyn Patel is the treasurer of Deen Arts Foundation. He studied Government at the University of Texas. Currently, he serves as the Vice President of Argus Talent, a Houston-based staffing company, director of operations for a Home Health Care Agency, and a board member of Risala Foundation in Houston, TX. Zeyn is also co-organizer of the first competition of MIST (Muslim Inter-Scholastic Tournament). He is also a former member of ISNA Board of Directors and served as the first treasurer of MSA National. Zeyn lives in Texas with his wife, Hafsa, and two kids.
Meet the Team
Dr. Ogunnaike is the Academic Advisor of Deen Arts Foundation. He holds a Ph.D. in African Studies and the Study of Religion from Harvard University and spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University's Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies. Dr. Ogunnaike is an assistant professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. He also teaches courses on Islam, Islamic Philosophy, Spirituality, Art, and African and African Diasporic Religions.
Dr. Oludamini Ogunnaike
Noura Shamma is the Secretary of Deen Arts Foundation. Noura has 20+ years of experience as a teacher, counselor, and youth advisor worldwide. She has studied the Islamic sciences with leading scholars in Malaysia, Morocco, Jordan, the USA, and Turkey, focusing on the Sirah and Sunnah of our beloved Prophet ﷺ. In addition, she has helped develop multiple Islamic educational programs for children and adults both online and in person.
Dr. Naeel Cajee
Growth & Program Chair
Dr. Na'eel Cajee is the Growth and Program Chair of Deen Arts Foundation. He is a Harvard-trained endodontist. He is a hafiz and cantillator of the Qur'an and a longtime apprentice of Mohamed Zakariya and other master artists. He brings first-hand knowledge of Islamic arts pedagogy and intimate knowledge of the fine arts scene in Istanbul.
Inayet F. Sahin
Mrs. Inayet Sahin is the executive director of Deen Arts Foundation. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland and holds a master's degree in education, with a focus on the epistemology of learning. Mrs. Sahin cultivated a love and understanding of the Islamic sacred arts over 25 years of frequent visits to Istanbul and other parts of the Muslim world. During this time, she served as the fine arts agent for Haji Noor Deen, one of the Muslim world’s most recognized calligraphy masters. She founded Deen Arts Foundation in an effort to support a larger number of artists and sacred arts communities, as well as facilitate the transmission of these sacred sciences to the Western Muslim world. Mrs. Sahin is married to Dr. Kashif Irfan, who, along with their four kids, support the foundation’s efforts. She splits her time between Istanbul and Dallas.
Farzana Razzaque Hoca is the Program Director at Deen Arts Foundation. She is a graduate of the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin. Farzana Hoca has been studying calligraphy and tezhip for over 5 years. She has received her Ijazah, the permission to teach the Thuluth and Naskh scripts in the Ottoman tradition, from her teachers Master Calligraphers Haji Noor Deen Hoca and Ahmet Kutluhan Hoca. Farzana Hoca is also studying tezhip, the art of illumination with Master Tezhip Artist Fatma Ulusoy Sirajuddin Hoca.
Nawaar Abdus-Salam is the community development manager at Deen Arts Foundation. She is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Texas at Dallas. As a manager, Nawaar will be facilitating community planning and projects, as well as supporting and enhancing students’ learning experiences. Nawaar is also a student of Calligraphy and Tezhip under the master calligrapher Shahryanshah Sirajuddin and master illumination artist Fatma Ulusoy Sirajuddin.
International Events Director
Nazmin Khanom is the International Events Coordinator. She completed her MA in English Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics at King's College London. Her journey into Islamic arts has been influenced by her travels to Turkey, Spain, Morocco, Egypt and Bosnia where she gained inspiration from the grand architecture and rich Islamic heritage. She was also able to meet masters of calligraphy and illumination in her travels. Nazmin studies rika and diwani with master calligrapher Shahryanshah Sirajuddin Hoca and thuluth under the tutelage of master Nuria Garcia Masip Hoca. Concurrently she studies illumination under master Fatma Ulusoy Sirajuddin.
Nur Fathiah A'bdussamad
Nur Fathiah A'bdussamad is a translator at Deen Arts Foundation. She is a graduate of Al Azhar with a degree in Arabic Language and Literature. She received her Calligraphy certificate from IRCICA in Maghribi, Riq'ah, Diwani, and Jaliy Diwani scripts and is currently learning Moroccan Zakhrafah and geometry under a Moroccan crafter. She is also under the tutelage of Haji Noor Deen Hoca in Arabic calligraphy in Chinese style under Deen Arts Program.
Yasmine Ahmed is a translator at Deen Arts Foundation. She has studied Quran and Arabic in Egypt and has Ijazah in 4 variant readings of The Quran. She teaches in the UK alongside being a calligraphy student of Master Calligrapher Haji Noor Deen Hoca in the Thuluth and Naskh Scripts.
Zulfar Tofie Samodien
Zulfar Tofie Samodien is the course facilitator for Master Calligrapher Haji Noor Deen’s classes at Deen Arts Foundation. A passionate student of the Quran, Arabic Language, and Arabic Calligraphy scripts, she is a graduate of the Darun Na’im Institute of Higher Islamic Learning in Cape Town, South Africa.
Besides her love for Arabic Calligraphy, Zulfar has also undertaken lessons in Ebru in Istanbul and South Africa. She is currently studying the Thuluth & Naskh Scripts in the Ottoman tradition and Arabic Calligraphy in Chinese Style under Master Calligrapher Haji Noor Deen.
Alaa Elamin is a translator at Deen Arts Foundation. She studied Psychology at Pennsylvania State University and trained as a social skills therapist at UCLA. Alaa is currently a traditional artist. She studied Tezhip and Ebru in Istanbul from master artists Alparslan Babaoğlu and Dilara Yarcı. And is currently studying Arabic Calligraphy in the Chinese Style and Thuluth and Naskh script in the Ottoman tradition under Master Calligrapher Haji Noor Deen.
Sare Güngördü is a translator at Deen Arts Foundation. She holds a bachelor's degree in Islamic studies from Fatih Sultan Mehmet Vakıf University in Istanbul. She teaches and speaks Turkish, English, and Arabic. Currently, she is working at IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation and completing her master’s at Marmara University.
Moina Sajjad is the Moderator for Master Calligrapher Haji Noor Deen’s classes at Deen Arts Foundation. She is a mixed media artist who focuses on art inspired by the beauty of God's creations. She holds a bachelor’s degree from St Joseph college Karachi, Pakistan.
She studied fine arts under the guidance of renowned artist Syful Islam and is currently a student of Arabic Calligraphy in Chinese style under Master Calligrapher Hoca Haji Noor Deen.
Hatice Sak is a translator at Deen Arts Foundation. She is an independent student and translator/interpreter. She studied English Language Teaching at Sabahattin Zaim University and completed her MA in Civilization Studies at Ibn Haldun University in 2019. She loves Islamic arts and is thrilled to be part of the Deen Arts Foundation.
Serap Ekizler Sonmez
Esra Aslan is the Executive Assistant at Deen Arts Foundation. She works closely with our Executive Director in planning Istanbul-based programs and international tours.
She has a BA in Economics and 17 years of professional experience as a sourcing manager for textile brands headquartered in Germany, Belgium, Italy, and the United States.
Whilst on a career hiatus, Esra has been studying Islamic illumination, geometric patterns and miniature art for the past 5 years. She has used her expertise to curate both local and international exhibitions.
IGP Program Director
Dr. Serap Ekizler Sönmez is a historian and specialist in Islamic geometric patterns. Dr. Sonmez's breadth of knowledge stems from her extensive travels to notable Islamic heritage architectural sites of exemplary geometric patterns. In addition, Dr. Sönmez's expertise in the theological and historical analysis of geometric patterns extends to noteworthy academic research.
Dr. Sönmez completed her Ph.D. in the spring of 2022, addressing the histories of science, Islamic art, architecture, and geometric patterns. Her dissertation, "The History of Geometric Patterns in Turkish and Islamic Art: Methodology, Applications, and Analysis in the Context of the Topkapi Scroll," is a monumental work that pioneers a complete understanding of the subject matter.