I Heart Halal™ announces full roster of national experts & entertainers for premier halal lifestyle festival in America, at Chicago’s Navy Pier, April 12-14, 2019

| 03 April, 2019
  • Headlining performance by Grammy-winning rapper, Lupe Fiasco, opened by socially-conscious hip hop star Brother Ali, Rap Queen Neelam Hakeem and Chicago-based hip hop artist Kayem on Friday evening, April 12
  • “America’s Least Wanted” stand-up comedy showcase hosted by Chicago-based Azhar Usman, Saturday evening, April 13
  • TV MasterChef Amanda Saab and Sameer Sarmast, host of “Top Halal Chef” cooking competition, among experts hosting interactive cooking & lifestyle demos all weekend
  • High-end modest fashion shows throughout the weekend feature everyday and unique labels, promising to be an inspirational experience
  • Expanded food hall plus three Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises restaurants at Navy Pier serving up halal-prepared foods

(April 3, 2019) CHICAGO, IL - Following an inaugural festival in 2018 that attracted over 17,000 attendees, I Heart Halal™, the premier halal lifestyle festival in America, greatly expands its footprint and has announced a robust roster of recognized experts and entertainers headlining its jam-packed weekend event at Chicago’s landmark Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Avenue, Friday, April 12- Sunday, April 14, 2019.

This high-energy festival will feature ongoing activity throughout the weekend including a Bazaar of merchants offering fashion, art, travel, and lifestyle products and services that follow the standards of the halal consumer; a festive, family-friendly Kids Zone; and a Taste of Halal food hall featuring some 14 local restaurants. In addition, the three Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises restaurants located at Navy Pier – Frankie’s By the Slice, Big Bowl and Big City Chicken – will serve up halal-prepared foods to commemorate the festival throughout the weekend.

Programming highlights this year include a Friday evening headlining performance by Chicago native Lupe Fiasco with supporting acts, socially-conscious hip hop artist Brother Ali, rap queen and modest fashion inspiration Neelam Hakeem, and Chicago based hip hop star Kayem; Illarious presents“America’s Least Wanted“ comedy showcase Saturday evening hosted by Chicago-based comedian Azhar Usman that includes America’s top Muslim comedians among its lineup; and interactive cooking and lifestyle demonstrations by known personalities such as Masterchef contestant Amanda Saab and halal food personality Sameer Sarmast hosting “Top Halal Chef” cooking competition. Plus, new for 2019 is the inaugural I Heart Halal Industry Conference featuring industry experts from around the globe addressing the halal economy, consumer buying trends, challenges in meeting the needs of this untapped market and navigating the regulatory landscape.

I Heart Halal is thoughtfully curated to nourish the mind, body and spirit of the attendee, and it was incredibly rewarding to witness such a diverse crowd congregate at the inaugural festival to experience that,” said Asma Ahad, festival co-founder.  “While last year’s event was a huge success, it was also a learning experience that has informed this year’s planning which is sure to result in an even more enriching experience for all.” 

Among the programming I Heart Halal festival-goers can expect to experience


  • FRI 8-10PM: Hip hop concert featuring Wasalu Muhammad Jaco, better known by his stage name Lupe Fiasco, is a Chicago-born, Grammy award-winning rapper, record producer, entrepreneur, and community advocate. Socially conscious hip hop artist Brother Ali and rapper, modest fashion inspiration Neelam Hakeem and Chicago-based Kayem open the show.
  • SAT 5:30-7PM: For this Muslim Writers Collective collaboration, performers will explore what halal might (or might not) mean to them. Featuring Hiba Bhatty (comedy), Binta Kane(song), Selma Demir (spoken word), Ahmed Jitan (poetry), Adil Qaisar(comedy), Arti Ishak (monologue), and Taaha Mohamed Ali (spoken word).
  • SAT 8-10PM: Illarious presents “America's Least Wanted," a comedy showcase exploring the thought-provoking juxtaposition of being Muslim in America, starring some of America’s top stand-up comics, including Paul Elia, Zanaib Johnson, Aron Kader, Ismael Loutfi, Danish Maqbool and Azhar Usman.



  • FRI 4-5PM and SAT 8-9PM: Enjoy samples and everyday recipes from Chef Demetrios Haralambatos of Kontos Foods.
  • FRI 5:30-6:30PM: TV personality and Columbia College student Will Coleman prepares beef sliders with spinach and jalapeno cheese sauce.
  • FRI 6:30-7:30PM and SAT 2-3:30PM: Chef Zubair Mohajir’s Wazwan Supper Club merges his sustainable and social focus with multi-course fine dining.
  • SAT 12-1PM: Culinary demonstration by Hira Umer of Scrumptious by Hira, the only certified halal boutique bake shop nationwide.
  • SAT 1:30-2:30PM “The Knafeh Queen,” Fatmah Muhammad, creates sahlab (sweet, creamy drink) with toasted knafeh (one of the most popular desserts in the Middle East) while her sister Kifah Muhammad of GetFitWithKifah shows how to tweak the knafeh recipe to make it healthier and shares her healthy Ramadan smoothie recipe.
  • SAT 3:30-4:30PM and SUN 1:30-2:30PM: MasterChef contestant and owner of Butter Bear Bakery, Amanda Saab shares her story and her famous caramel date cake.
  • SAT 5:30-7PM and SUN 2-3PM: Sameer Sarmast of Sameer’s Eats hosts a cooking competition where festival-goers will cast their vote for “Top Halal Chef.”
  • SUN 12-1PM: Decor expert and Days of Eid founder, Reem Sayes shows how to create a magical setting for the holidays.
  • SUN 4-5PM: Attendees can taste Zakiya Master’s famous Samosa Pot Pie and learn how Blend of Spice got its start.



  • SAT 2-3PM and SUN 2:30-3PM: Indonesian cultural dance performances.
  • SAT 5:30-6:30PM: Families are invited to watch Tayyaba Syed and her famous puppets perform her debut children’s book, “The Blessed Bananas,” and Dana Salim reads stories and plays games from her children’s series, “Yousuf’s Everyday Adventures.”
  • SAT 6:30-8PM: The Dating Game: Join ESHQ, a dating app that allows Muslim women to make the first move, for a fun 70's style game show that reveals not only the revolution of Millennial Muslims meeting, but the concept of breaking barriers with women in the community.
  • SUN 2-3:30PM: The Mosquers Film Festival makes its way from Canada to present four award-winning short films and also host a 24-hour short film competition with the winning film to be shown during the screening.
  • SUN 3:30-5PM: 2019 Breaking Barriers Pitch Competition, presented by IQ Loft, features the most creative and aspiring entrepreneurs contending during this “sharktank”-like competition for a chance to win $5K and $2.5K worth of startup services for their respective ventures.



  • SAT 1:30-2:30PM: Learn how Muslim fashion designers are owning the conversation around modest fashion, featuring panelist Omar Muhammad of the Haqq Institute and moderator Isra Chaker of Isra Speaks.
  • SAT 3-4PM, 6-7PM and SUN 1:30-2:30PM, 3:45-4:45PM: High-end modest fashion shows feature everyday and unique labels, promising an inspirational experience.
  • SUN 3:30-4:30PM: Beauty panel includes Aisha Afshar (Halal Beauty Cosmetics), Hafsa Haseeb (Depilex SmileAgain Foundation), and Jay Younis (Maya Cosmetics).



  • FRI 6-7PM: Muslims in Media featuring panelists Abrar Al-Heeti, CNET; Medha Imam, INSIDER; Noor Wazwaz, NPR; Ash-har Quraishi, NBC Chicago; and Dena Takruri, AJ+; with moderator: Shahzmeen Hussain.
  • SAT 2-3PM: Hamza Yousef, leading proponent of classical learning in Islam, President of Zaytuna College and Vice President for the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, and Adnan Durrani, Founder and CEO of Saffron Road foods, discuss halal food and ethical consumerism.
  • SAT 2:30-3:30PM: Interfaith Youth Core presents “Potluck Nation: Food, Hospitality and Service Across Religious Communities.” Four people from distinct traditions (Islam, Sikhism, Judaism, Christianity) draw on shared values to serve the local community. Featuring panelists Hannah Minks, Usra Ghazi, and Maneshwar Singh with moderator Jenan Mohajir.
  • SAT 2:30-3:30PM: “Food and Spirituality – How Halal Raises the Bar for Better-For-You Foods”
  • SAT 3PM: Greenfence helps build transparency and trust to meet halal requirements. This interactive session shares how Greenfence helps improve consumers’ confidence in halal.
  • SAT 3:30-4:30PM: A conversation about the health benefits of fasting during Ramadan with panelists Zubair Mohajir (Wazwan Supper Club), Kifah Muhammad (Personal Trainer/Health Coach), Shanna Maragh (Nutritionist, Do & Co Catering) and moderator Ali Othman (IFANCA)
  • SUN 12-1PM: Muslim Civic Coalition hosts a workshop, “Our Civic Power: Action and Impact,” a discussion about the ongoing fight for social justice.
  • SUN 1:30-2:30PM: “Traveling with halal as a compass”: Panelists share how one can travel with a limited budget or even for free and be inspired by unlikely halal destinations. Featuring moderator Reem El Shafaki, Senior Travel Associate, Dinar Standard.
  • SUN 2:30-3:30: “Hello Holy Days with Manal Aman” -- Manal Aman has worked to bring Ramadan/Eid to market and is the creator of #purpleramada, a movement that encourages North Americans to adopt purple and yellow as the colors of Ramadan and Eid al Fitr in their homes.



  • “Taste of Halal” food hall offering myriad options for a complete meal or a snack including such favorite restaurants as Dog Haus, Wok n Chop, Chimney Cone Creamery, Karahi Corner, Scrumptious by Hira, and the Mediterranean Express Food Truck. Plus, three the three Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises restaurants located at Navy Pier – Frankie’s By the Slice, Big Bowl and Big City Chicken – will serve up halal-prepared foods to commemorate the festival throughout the weekend.
  • Festive family zone providing a safe space for children and families to connect with others while providing their kids robust physical activity with large inflatables, and engaging activities and attractions including character artists and face painters. 
  • A lively Bazaar featuring a broad selection of vendors showcasing the entire halal lifestyle including fashion, art, and travel.


ABOUT I HEART HALAL INDUSTRY CONFERENCE, Friday, April 12, 8:30 am-5:00 pm, Seminar Stage

Halal industry experts from across the country and around the globe discuss the halal economy, consumer buying trends, challenges in meeting the needs of this untapped market and navigating the regulatory landscape. Conference fee is $250 and includes general admission to the weekend activities. More information can be found at www.ihearthalal.com/conference



The I Heart Halal festival is sponsored by the Chicago-based not-for-profit Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA)® which, for more than 30 years, has been connecting halal consumers in North America and around the world to everything that’s good - and to the businesses who make it. IFANCA’s clients include corporations such as Coca-Cola, Nestle, Organic Valley, Abbott Nutrition, and Saffron Road. The festival is also sponsored by DSM and Cargill.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois is a proud partner of the I Heart Halal festival. Part of its core beliefs is to promote multiculturalism, build communities, and help ensure that everyone has a chance to be a meaningful part of the American landscape. Additional partners include WBEZ Radio and Vocalo, Saffron Road, State Farm, Organic Valley, and Maven.

I Heart Halal hours & ticketing

I Heart Halal will feature three full days of sights, sounds and events appealing to everyone who want to experience the halal lifestyle, Friday, April 12, 11am - 10pm; Saturday, April 13, 11am-10pm; Sunday, April 14, 11am-6pm. A complete program schedule will be announced shortly.

General Admission tickets ($10 online, $20 at the door) are now on sale and allow entrance to I Heart Halal throughout the weekend, including access to the food hall, Bazaar, fashion shows, cooking demonstrations, Kids Zone and educational and lifestyle sessions in the main hall.  General Admission tickets for children ages 2-13 are $5 online, $10 at the door.  An All Access ticket ($50 online, $75 at the door) includes all above access, plus headline entertainment both evenings. All Access ticketholders also receive return admission access for all three festival days. VIP ticket ($100 online only) includes access to all of the above, plus exclusive VIP-only offerings including prime seating at headlining performances, special experiences, an exclusive show bag filled with special gifts from vendors and return admission access for all three festival days. For more information or to purchase tickets in advance, please visit www.IHeartHalal.com

For updates on the I Heart Halal festival, including limited time VIP offer, please visit IHeartHalal.com as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.



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