Islamic paintings decorating the inside of a bustling 17th Avenue S.W. coffeehouse are not only spurring quiet discussion, but also quite a stir.

The art, which depicts Arabic calligraphy and mosques, is being featured at Waves Coffee House.

The Art of Islam founder Ola Mohajer says she launched the Calgary business as a platform for local artists to sell their Islamically-inspired art in North America.

  • CBC's Asha Siad went to check out the display that is helping to open up discussions around the faith. Listen below:

"The coffee shops are really a great way to not only showcase our work but also speak to people who are just in the coffee shop," says Mohajer.

"Whenever I am doing set-ups people will ask 'Oh, are you the artist?' and sometimes I am and they will ask questions."

Mohajer says she is not only open to discuss questions about the artwork, but also questions about Islam in general.

Islamic art is quite varied, says Mohajer. It can be generic, like scenery, or specific, like calligraphy, with sayings from the Qur'an that Muslims revere. 

It can largely depend on what the artist identifies as Islamic, she says.

Edgar Apolonio, one of the owners of Waves Coffee House, says he was happy promote this kind of work and art in general. Apolonio’s favourite is one of a painted mosque.

"You know, I am not really familiar with the art from the Muslim world or Middle Eastern world and when I saw it I fell in love with it," he says.

"It is beautiful."

The art inspires conversations within both Muslim and non-Muslim groups, says Mohajer.

"For non-Muslim groups it has also been quite meaningful. A gentlemen who is the CEO of a company said that he had liked this one piece. It was a piece of Islamic calligraphy that translated to God."


Never Before by Ola Mohajer.


Refuge in Allah by Sumreen Tariq.


Al Qawi by Ola Mohajer.


All Powerful by Sumreen Tariq.