INDIANAPOLIS – Ten years ago, while a student at Hamilton Southeastern High School, Shajjad Shah found himself grappling with his identity because he said he was “one of the only brown Muslims. From his school.
So he took matters into his own hands and created his own community on Instagram through an account called @MuslimsOfTheWorld.
It was meant not so much to share stories about the Islamic faith, but to share human stories about people who happened to be Muslims.
“It could be a woman struggling with the hijab. A Muslim struggling with racism. A mother struggling with a child with autism or Down’s syndrome, ”explained Shah. “Stories that everyone can relate to.”
Not only was this page a huge success, but it snowballed in other ventures like the new MOTW Cafe and Pastry Shop that he and his wife, Fatimah, opened in the international market (at 4873 W. 38th Street ) earlier this year.
We went to check it out and learn more about their mission on this trip In your neighborhood.
“After September 11, it was really difficult to be a Muslim America. So I started this page called Muslims of the World on Instagram, but it was basically just a collection of stories from Muslims sharing the Muslim narrative, ”Shah recalls.
Ten years and roughly 650,000 Instagram followers later, Muslims Of The World – or MOTW – has grown into a book, a nonprofit, and now a coffee shop.
The shop sources coffee from the local roaster, Tinker Coffee Co., and offers a varied menu of coffees and smoothies.
Best-selling drinks with an international twist include Spanish Latte and Yemeni Chai.
“My wife is from Yemen. It’s like it’s an old Yemeni cafe [drink], “he explained.” It’s black tea with carnation milk. Really nice. We can do it hot or iced. But that definitely sets us apart from a lot of other specialty coffees in Indiana.
Another favorite on the menu is the Biscoff Latte.
“[It’s] made with Biscoff Biscoff butter balls put in a cup with vanilla pumps. It’s really very good, ”he said.
The store even makes its own in-house syrups, such as lavender and cardamom.
And baristas can complement your drink with a little latte art.
When it comes to pastries, MOTW focuses on French and Arabic options. So, you’ll find everything from macaroons and baklava to the best-selling Yemeni honeycomb.
“You have Yemeni bread stuffed with cream cheese, sprinkled with sesame seeds, then sprinkled with honey on top. So this is to die for, ”Shah said. “Everyone comes looking for this. “
Although the interior features, the Turkish woodwork and the beautiful Islamic architecture, Shah says this shop is for everyone.
“Even though it’s the Muslims of the world… MOTW, you will find that even though you are here on a busy day, most of the people who come to support us are not Muslims,” he said.
At its core, MOTW is community driven, both locally here in the cafe and across the world through their charitable work in Yemen, Syria, Africa and beyond.
“Even recently, a lot of people saw that we were cycling from Indiana to Yemen. We raised around $ 212,000, ”he noted. “[And] we were able to raise millions of dollars for different humanitarian causes. That’s why our whole concept is a cafe with a purpose.
Four things you should know about MOTW coffee and pastries:
- Long before it was a cafe, MOTW got its start ten years ago when high school student Shajjad Shah found himself grappling with his Muslim identity after 9/11. So he launched an Instagram page called @MuslimsOfTheWorld and set out to break down barriers by sharing stories that anyone could relate to, regardless of their background. “Before you know it the platform just took off [and] 650,000 subscribers and 10 years later we’ve kind of turned it into a book, a nonprofit, a convention platform… And now into a cafe, ”Shah said.
- MOTW Coffee and Pastries is open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- When you visit the cafe, you will also notice other facets of the mission and the MOTW brand on display, including a merchandise corner with shirts and a book co-authored by Shah called “Muslims of the World: Portraits and Stories of Hope, Survival, Loss, and Love ”as well as an illustrated wall documenting their humanitarian projects.
- Shah says MOTW is also a nonprofit that has been able to raise millions of dollars for humanitarian causes since its inception. They are always working on new events and causes to support in which the community can get involved.
To learn more about Muslims Of The World’s mission, events, and other updates, follow them on Instagram.
In the international market, check out these other local favorites:
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