The American Islamic Congress is proud to present annual contests to engage the minds and talents of youth in the U.S. and abroad. Click on the contests below for more information about each.

The “American-Muslim Life” Art contest.  What does it mean to be Muslim in America? A single definition does not exist, while media headlines, family expectations, stereotypes, and attitutes from overseas all contribute to shaping different perceptions.  This contest explores the insights and visions of young people about what it means to be Muslim in America today. Whether you consider yourself Muslim, or come from a Muslim background,  we want your perspective on these issues. You don’t have to be an artist or an expert – just be yourself (anonymous entries accepted)

For more information, click here.

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The “Dream Deferred” Essay Contest on Civil Rights in the Middle East

Launched in 2005, this annual contest inspires young thinkers to share their dream deferred for the Middle East civil rights movement. With $10,000 in awards as well as 50 book prizes, the contest provides incentive for young Middle Easterners to express liberal ideas – and at the same time serves as a recruiting mechanism to identify emerging leaders. Indeed, past contest winners have gone on to play important roles in the “Arab Spring” and other grassroots efforts for individual rights. Outstanding essays from the first five years of the contest are collected in the anthology “Arab Spring Dreams” (Palgrave-Macmillan), featuring a foreword by Gloria Steinem and an afterword by Nobel Leaurate Lech Walesa.

For more information, please visit:  (, , )


“From the Eyes to the Heart” Film Contest
A polite Arabic expression of thanks translates literally as “I show my appreciation by focusing my eyes upon you.” The phrase reflects a classic Middle Eastern concept that truths of the heart can be expressed by the focus of one’s eyes – and conversely that the eyes are the gateway to the heart. This nexus between sight and sincerity inspires this annual contest, which encourages young Middle Easterners to investigate key aspects of moral character through the creation of short films. Some viral videos have made a profound impact on young Middle Easterners’ perceptions of character – but these are suicide bombers’ glorifications of hatred and “martyrdom.” By offering $20,000 in prizes and film festival venues, the contest cultivates a new brand of short films that deepen appreciation of humility, curiosity, entrepreneurialism, future-mindedness, and diligence.

For more information, please visit : (Arabic, Farsi, French, Urdu)