WAJAHAT ALI: THE PLAYWRIGHT
Wajahat Ali is the award winning playwright of The Domestic Crusaders, one of the first major plays about the American Muslim experience published by Mcsweeney's.
In Fall, 2001, during his undergraduate studies at U.C. Berkeley, he hesitantly began writing The Domestic Crusaders in order to pass a 20 page short story assignment due for a writing class taught by Ishmael Reed, and with his encouragement, transformed the piece into a play which premiered in 2005 at the Thrust Stage of the Berkeley Repertory Theater and San Jose University Theater. In 2009, The Domestic Crusaders premiered Off-Broadway in New York at the famous Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and broke their box office records during its historic 5 week run. In 2010, the play premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. (Millennium Stage.)
Ali’s The Domestic Crusaders was published by McSweeney’s in January 2011.
Ali’s essays and interviews on contemporary affairs, politics, the media, popular culture and religion frequently appear in the Washington Post, The Guardian, Salon, Slate, McSweeney’s, Wall Street Journal Blog, Huffington Post, CNN.com, among other outlets.
Ali is the lead author and researcher of the seminal report on Islamophobia in America entitled Fear Inc., Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America published by Center for American Progress in August 2011. Foreign Policy Magazine praised the report as “a remarkable piece of investigative work, showing how small set of right-wing foundations and individuals have bankrolled the most vocal Islamophobes in contemporary U.S. politics.”
Ali worked with award winning journalist and author Doug Saunders to provide core research for his book The Myth of the Muslim Tide: Do Immigrants Threaten The West? (Random House, August 2012) The book reveals hard data, statistics, facts and evidence that debunks inaccurate and inflammatory theories about Muslims and immigrants in Europe and how modern Islamophobia echoes similar responses to earlier immigrant groups, such as Jews and Catholics.
Ali is co-editor of I Speak For Myself: 40 American Men on Being Muslim, an anthology of 40 unique essays that received a coveted, starred review by Publisher’s Weekly (White Cloud Press, 2012.)
He is the co-lead drafter of the educational pamphlet What is the Truth About American Muslims produced by the Newseum’s First Amendment Center, Religious Freedom Education Project, and Interfaith Alliance.
He was the associate editor of Altmuslim.com and contributing editor to the award winning Illume Magazine. He is also a contributing editor to The Islamic Monthly magazine.
His first short story, “Ramadan Blues,” was published in Powwow: Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience, Short Fiction From Then to Now (Da Capo Press, 2009). His second story, “The Perpoose Story,” is published in the anthology Voices of the Asian American Experience (Winter 2011).
His first movie, Ms. Judgments, was a finalist for the 2007 Link TV Muslim American Film Competition.
In 2010, Wajahat Ali’s first long-form essay, Could It Be That the Best Chance to Save a Young Family From Foreclosure is a 28-Year-Old Pakistani American Playright-slash-Attorney who Learned Bankruptcy Law on the Internet? Wells Fargo, You Never Knew What Hit You, was featured as the cover story for McSweeney’s SF Panorama Magazine. The article was cited by Atlantic Monthly as one of 2011’s best pieces of journalism. The article was also cited by Business Insider, The Consumerist (which listed Wajahat Ali as their “Hero of the week”), and NPR’s Marketplace Radio.
Ali is a frequent consultant on social entrepreneurship, Islam and Muslim Americans, post 9-11 Muslim American identity and politics, multicultural art and activism, and New Media Journalism.
In 2012, Ali consulted the U.S. Department of State and helped design, strategize and implement the “Generation Change” leadership training program to empower young global change agents and social entrepreneurs. He initiated “Generation Change” chapters in Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. For his efforts, he was honored by Sec. of State Clinton as a “Generation Change Leader” and invited to speak at the State Department Eid Dinner 2012.
He consulted U.C. Berkeley on their 2009 landmark “Islam Today: Youth and New Media” program. The yearlong program, focusing on politics, social networks and arts & culture, was designed to increase public understanding in the U.S. about Islam by looking at how Muslim youth around the world are using “new media” to create new virtual communities, explore their evolving identities, and confront harmful anti-Muslim stereotypes.
In 2009-10, he consulted McSweeney’s, an American publishing company, on their Muslim and Arab American community outreach to promote Dave Eggers’ award winning book Zeitoun.
He consulted Voice of Witness, a nonprofit book series that documents human rights abuses and issues of contemporary social injustice by using oral history and personal narratives. Their book Patriot Acts: Narratives of post 9-11 Injustice features stories on Muslim, Middle Eastern and South Asians facing discrimination after 9-11 (McSweeney’s, August 2011).
Wajahat Ali was honored as an “An Influential Muslim American Artist” by the State Department in 2008. In 2009, he was named a “Muslim Leader of Tomorrow” for his journalism work. The same year, he received Muslim Public Affairs Council’s prestigious “Emerging Muslim American Artist” recognition and was cited as Young Muslim American leader by the Center for American Progress. Wajahat Ali is the proud recipient of the 2011 Otto Award for Political Theatre for his play The Domestic Crusaders.
Ali is also a professional speaker, invited nationally and internationally to give keynote speeches. He has given presentations at Google Headquarters, University of Chicago, Princeton, U.C. Berkeley, Columbia University, Duke University, New York University, The Commonwealth Club, City Arts and Lectures, The Newseum, Brookings Institution, Council on a Parliament of World Religions, The Netherlands Writers Unlimited Festival, The Abu Dhabi Book Festival, among many other prestigious events, universities and organizations.
Ali is currently writing a TV pilot with Dave Eggers about a Muslim American cop in the Bay Area, California.
He is working on his first film screenplay with director Josh Seftel (“War Inc.”).
He blogs at GOATMILK and is an Attorney at Law, practicing in the San Francisco Bay Area.