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Monday, September 03, 2007

Back from ISNA

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

I just came back from the ISNA convention so I thought I would share my thoughts of my weekend experience. Alhamdulillah it was an amazing experience as I was able to meet face to face with the many people I have communicated via email and facebook. I heard there was about 40,000 people in attendance and at the entertainment session, I got a chance to perform in front of nearly 10,000 people so that new to me. I never stood up in front of so many people and with the GPU conference around the conference, I can only imagine what 25,000 people live looks like. Anyways, I live in an area where Muslims are scarce, so it was awesome to see brothers and sisters from all over the world in one conference was awesome. MashAllah I met many inspiring brothers and sisters and the whole weekend felt like it ended too soon.

Honestly, before I came to conference I wasn't sure if most people would even have heard of Ummah Films. I was very surprised by the large number of supporters that I met from all across the world. Keep in mind that when I film these videos, I'm sitting in a room by myself with no cameraman. Its pretty much a one man film crew so I'm not sure if anyone else is watching the videos until I post them on the web and hear the feedback. Its weird because its almost like talking to yourself and you keep thinking is anyone other than me going to even see this? And then you hear so much positive feedback from a very WIDE variety of Muslims, that doubt disappears. When I say a "wide variety", I mean WIDE VARIETY...everything from salafi to sufi, from niqabi to hajabi to even non-hijabi, from little kids to people old enough to be my grandparents, from doctors to artists to students to directors to journalist to even CEOs of companies (I mean when do they get time to watch Ummah Films). I'm speechless. I mean I just a guy, sitting in chair, with no film experience. I just ali...that's it. People walking up to me and telling me how they became Muslim and the videos is what inspired them to look into Islam. I tell them that I can't take credit for anything because I can't convert anybody and if I could, I would start with my family but the hearts are not in our hands but rather in the hands of Creator, Allah (swt). I'm just a guy with a video camera and an opinion. That's it. My only hope was to make a difference by making people think.

I just wanted to say one more thing: Even though, I have mentioned it in the video, I wanted to mention something here so it would be clear. The autograph request things was happening left and right like 100 hundred times and each time I kindly said no. The reason behind this is because I have seen people become successful and that success has got to their heads. I don't want to become one of those people and may Allah (swt) protect me from that.

This whole "celebrity" thing for me is nothing more than a trial for me and shaitan will use it to lead you astray, to make you think you are better than the next person. In fact, I am no better than anyone else and as I have said many times, I am reminding myself before I am reminding anyone else in my videos (just in case you forgot). No matter how popular my Reminder videos become, I'm just Ali and nothing more.
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36 Comments:

At September 04, 2007 1:15 AM, Blogger Alia Mazalan said...

Assalamualaikum.
you're a very humble man brother and i respect you very much for that. thank you for not letting this fame thing get to your head. and i hope Allah will give His just reward to you. :) . i wish i could be there though. it would be so much fun meeting new people. oh, and a week more to go to Ramadhan. i hope you'll have a good one insyAllah. tk cr!

p/s: i watch your 'ramadhan rerun' episode again a few days back. :P. showed it to a few people for my usrah too. :D

 
At September 04, 2007 9:52 AM, Anonymous wan said...

assalamualaikum bro!

ur vids are so entertaining!(and they have truth in em too!). fell in love with those vids ever since i first watched one. haha, may Allah bless u n ur work!. do come up with more witty and insightful videos!
By the way, somehow i do see, in ur videos, ideas that are parallel to the spiritual dimension of islam, ie tasawwuf/ sufism. like for example ur video on arrogant ppl and the ultra-funny haraam police haha. its just kinda confusing these days coz many muslims condemn tasawwuf, claiming that its bid'ah etc.
anyways, i've greatly enjoyed ur vids!

jazakallah khair,
wassalamuaikum from a singaporean bro

 
At September 04, 2007 2:05 PM, Anonymous Jim said...

Salaams Ali,
I came across your site last week after searchinf for 'salat' on YouTube, and have since watched all of your excellent videos.

As Alia said in another comment to this post, you are indeed very humble. It is an amazing thing that you are doing, because you are presenting Islam in such a positive, accessible way. The humour really does have a big impact. Plus you do a great job in front of the camera. I can see why converts have been influenced by them. Often Islamic talks can be rather austere. Yours however, still pack a powerful message, but the humour helps a lot too.
Was Salaam
Jim

 
At September 04, 2007 6:41 PM, Blogger JT said...

Al salaamu alaikum, wa jazaak Allah khair!

Brother Jer. Dirks (whom I mentioned in a private email) and I have had several talks over the years about the need for an accessible, positive face of Islam. I believe you provide one such face, and hope that you will be willing to become more of a spokesman FOR the Ummah, as well as TO the Ummah.

Please tell us YOUR conversion story?

Ma salaam,

JT

 
At September 04, 2007 7:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If this was not about money, why don't you release the extras you put on the DVD?

 
At September 05, 2007 2:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

assalamualaikum warahmatullah,

May Allah rewards you and protect you from riya'..ameen. You did a very good effort to tell the world about the real teaching of Islam and not many Muslims even realized it.

I "accidently" watch your video on net and the first time i was thinking what this man is talking about with some strange face expression... but after listening and watching the whole messages, I searched more. It was interesting to learn about Islam and it gives big impact on me as Malay Muslim. I know that some Muslims did not actually practiced the real teaching of Islam because the main thing in order to practice Islam is to learn more and more. Born as a Muslim is one nikmat but to ignore the teachings is worst thing. I am glad to learn Islam more even from the new reverts sisters and brothers.

Hmm.. due to the anonymous questions about selling dvd. Allowed me to say that al-Jannah is more expensive than the videos. To go there, we are tested every seconds and those who accept and be patient will be those who qualified to go there.

Ok..I hope we can find your videos in Malaysia and welcoming you to give talk about Islam to our sisters and brothers here.

wassalamualaikum
Husna

 
At September 05, 2007 4:08 AM, Blogger Lawrence said...

As Salaam Aalikum Ali,

May Allah continue to reward you and guide you in the right direction with Ummah films. I'm definitly looking and supporting Ummah films to take it to the next level with the movies.

I think you should produce some postcards with Ummah Films info, your picture and donation info. That way when people ask for your autograph you give them the card and they can support the cause - Ummah Films growth.

Peace Bro..Ramadan Mubarak

 
At September 05, 2007 4:14 AM, Blogger Lawrence said...

p.s. take more pictures and video of your events.. shukran

 
At September 05, 2007 5:14 AM, Blogger Iman said...

Assalaamu 'alaykum br Ali
i love ur videos very much
i live in the middle east
of course ur DVDs r not here & if they r they'll be expensive & i'm just a poor girl living in a small village :(
you know what im saying:)
so pleeeeease brother put the extra videos of the DVD on the blog
pleeeeease brother do this Fisabilillah

 
At September 05, 2007 7:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They sell the DVD and Shirts so they can raise money for the project. I'm into making movies myself and I can tell you that there are many costs involved in putting out something good.

We are ready to buy movies from our local video store or pay for a few movie tickets when a new film about non-Muslims come out but when are we going to start supporting our fellow Muslims who are putting out messages that we think are making a difference.

If we don't support Ummah Films, then we can't really complain when they stop making films anymore.

 
At September 05, 2007 7:48 AM, Anonymous Zulaikha said...

Asalaamou `alaikum br. Ali!!
May Allah show you success after success in this life and the next inshallah.

I cannot express enough, how much your words touched my heart when you said that if you could convert anybody you would start from your own family. SubhaanAllah.

May Allah soften their hearts in order for them to be able to defrenciate the truth from falsehood; and may Allah increase love between you and your family for His sake, so that you may be able to live in harmony is this life and reunite in Jannat al Firdaous inshallah. Finally, may Allah accept my duaa's! Ameen :)
Wasalaam.

Your sis,
Zulaikha (One of your niqaabi fan's in the UK lol)

 
At September 05, 2007 8:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are millions of Muslim (and HUMANS) all across the world who don't even have food or access to clean water. Anyone who would buy this DVD when they can get it online for free is killing those brothers and sisters.

Ali, you're doing a good thing. But people are starting to idolize you. Wanting your face and stuff. Why not have a DVD cover without your face all over it?

Also, many of us can not afford to buy the DVD or goto ISNA to see you. (I can barley keep up with my expenses as it is) Why not release the unreleased videos? Please tell us why.

Thanks

 
At September 05, 2007 10:08 AM, Blogger Baba Ali said...

Your message sounds a little extreme. Just for the record, 18 of the 21 videos are available online for free to watch. I made a few extra videos as a gift for those who support Ummah Films by making a few extra videos exclusively for the DVD. I have no plans on releasing them on YouTube.

Although I do not make any money from Ummah Films, there are many expenses involved. I would like to move to the next project but projects aren't cheap to start and require funding. So many Muslims want everything for free but unfortunately, that's not reality. I don't accept donations but rather sell DVDs and Shirts to raise funds to pay for these projects InshAllah. If for whatever reason I never make another project, then I will donate the excess funds to help the needy InshAllah. Again, I'm not in it to make money.

Also, although I don't get paid for my services with Ummah Films, I do try to compensate others who help me. I can not expect volunteer help. I have learned that volunteer help equals volunteer quality.

Finally, I have no control on how people see me. All I can do is remind everyone and myself that I am just Ali and nothing more. If you have read any of my past posts in the blog, then you would be familiar with my frame of mind.

 
At September 05, 2007 10:13 AM, Blogger Sarah Zaman said...

Asalaam3alaikum,
you did a nice job as the entertainment moderator for a first timer in front of so much of a big hu-mun-gus crowd. Keep your work up and jazakallah

 
At September 05, 2007 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Assalamualailkum

What you wrote about the variety thing made us think: We think "a wide variety" is the best proof that behind all our differences - whether salafi, sufi or else - we muslim have still - and maybe more than ever - all have sth in common. And that is, Alhamdulillah, really calming..

Oh and we would like to say: We love you for Allah - do you know the arabic saying? "Bahibak fillah"? just to make the meaning clear ;) really, what you are doing is masha-Allah such great work. and you are perfectly right with the autograph thing. keep it straight! we will make dua for ummahfilms during ramadan insha-Allah - Ramadan kareem!!!

 
At September 05, 2007 3:50 PM, Anonymous izz said...

"Also, many of us can not afford to buy the DVD or goto ISNA to see you. (I can barley keep up with my expenses as it is) Why not release the unreleased videos? Please tell us why."

^
Well then be GREATFUL for the 18 videos u can watch for FREE. Instead of coming here and criticizing ali, when he is the one investing lots of time and effort, whilst making nothing from it.

Look at it this way:

Those few unreleased videos encourage people to BUY the dvd, which helps to keep Ummah Films going and so probably contributing to the making of more FREE videos!

 
At September 05, 2007 4:35 PM, Blogger Mission Elysium. said...

Assalamualaikum,

ISNA this year was the worst yet, in my opinion. It's unbelievable. And speaking of that, my article is coming out pretty well.
You did a good job. Stay strong.

http://i1.tinypic.com/6b1mutd.jpg

 
At September 05, 2007 4:39 PM, Anonymous YOUR SISTER IN ISLAM said...

Salam Everyone...

Well I met Baba Ali at ISNA and it was great
i gave him a suggestion and he understood my idea and the new topics and agreed happily..

Baba Ali i have a question... Well I bought the DVD at ISNA and at my highschool we have MSA meeting for the Muslim Youth and i was thinking if i can show these kids your Vids just to remind them as you say.. I'm waiting for your approval.. I talked to the teachers at my Public High school and they wanted to see it and they are not even Muslim!! so if its ok with you .. there will be about 50 people waiting to see your DVD..
Also i would like to thank you for the Muslim wrist band you gave me its really nice and may allah reward you.. although i wanted your signature..
I also got the game Mecca To Madina and every night i play it with my brother and i am planning to take it to school and show them by just playing it how much they would learn about islam.. So Overall thanks alot for being at ISNA and hope to see you again..

Salam..

Your Sister In Islam

 
At September 05, 2007 8:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everytime I come on this blog, I expect to see a countdaown until the next video. I am sadly disappointed everytime. Please do a Season 3 really soon. You don't know how many MORE people you'll benefit since people now have learned to recognize your name very quickly. I think the more poularity you have the more the message you can spread to the masses. Think of it like a MASS DAWAH oppurtunity rather than a celebrity thing. May Allah keep you strong brother. You've changed lives by the will of Allah.
Ma'salama.

 
At September 05, 2007 9:05 PM, Blogger Mumtazah said...

Salam 'alaikum,

I suggest pray istikarah and ask Allah ta'ala if its good to make season 3 videos or not.

and may Allah ta'ala makes us as his HUMBLE, devout servants. Ameen.

Allahu 'alam

 
At September 05, 2007 9:43 PM, Blogger Baba Ali said...

Just for the record, if there is a Season 3, I plan to release the videos for free on the web like I did with the previous Seasons. My goal with Ummah Films is to continue it with more project but unfortunately many doors are closed unless there is some type of funding. Since I am not one to ask for donations, I try to raise the funding by selling shirts and DVDs. Yes the same guy who sits in the chairs is the same guy who puts together your package for shipping. Also, keep in mind that my DVD also get copied which is ok because again, this is not business for me but more importantly a hasanat project.

Finally, if you do have a copy of it. Feel free to show it at any event you want (answering the request posted above)

 
At September 05, 2007 10:58 PM, Anonymous husna said...

assalamualaikum,

How you manage to do everything alone? Is this a personal project? Cause I can see some other people in the video.

Brother Ali, maybe you can take video of real things happened around us in candid. For instance..about coupling or dating among Muslims teenagers or maybe a simple practices of Muslims which mixed with local traditions.

It will be more relevant to our daily lifes.

I don't concern much about the price..at least we as a muslims can give support to spread Islam indirectly by purchasing the DVDs.
We should change the way of thinking because we need to buy to support and not just get free stuffs on net.

Husna

 
At September 06, 2007 2:14 AM, Blogger UF Staff said...

Asalam alaikum,

To the " your sister in Islam" please feel free to use the DVD at your school. Wa salam alaikum

 
At September 06, 2007 8:12 AM, Blogger Baba Ali said...

walaikum salam husna,

as far as the videos, i write, edit, and film them by myself so that is why it takes so much time between videos. each video can take up to 20 hours of work from beginning to end.

as far as ummah films, i have a few brothers helping me with the backend that have requested to be anonymous with the hope to get the most reward out of their efforts. with over 2 million views on youtube alone and the videos being televised in the UK, a large number of emails come in everyday so they help me sort through them. in addition, they help me organize UF as well. they do so many small things to help UF that I think it surpasses any work that I do. Alhamdulillah.

as far as your idea about recording people secretly, i think it would be considered spying. also, i don't want to put people's sins out in the open because it will only promote them and more importantly, its not Islamic. I have many issues i would like to better myself in as well. None of my videos is about a specific organization or person...but rather the ideas we carry with the hope that people will think about them.

your brother in Islam

ali

 
At September 06, 2007 12:26 PM, Blogger Tafta said...

Hi Brother,

How are you?

I really like your videos.. I am a muslim girl and I think although you are a convert you are much better than millions of muslims.. Keep going and please where can I buy you DVD.. is it available in Amazon.com? Thanks

 
At September 06, 2007 12:44 PM, Blogger UF Staff said...

Asalam alaikum Tafta,

you can buy at :

http://www.muslimgames.com/store.html

 
At September 06, 2007 4:12 PM, Anonymous Yousuf said...

Salaam Brother Ali,
I met you at ISNA last week and I was going to suggest something to you, but i completely forgot. I was wondering maybe if you can make like a behind the scenes video of your reminder videos. I think it would be really cool seeing things from your prespective and how you edit the videos and stuff. its just something i was thinking would be kind of neat and different. Salaam brother :)

 
At September 06, 2007 9:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that sounds like a good idea but he films the whole thing by himself. he is like a one-man team when it comes to filming the reminder videos

i like the idea though

maybe another Muslim film maker should take this as a project. follow this baba ali guy around for a day and see what happens behind the scenes.

 
At September 06, 2007 10:24 PM, Blogger Sumaiya said...

Like I said before brother (at ISNA), May Allah(swt) truly reward you for your efforts... its not easy devoting all your extra time/effort to this cause, I'm sure, and may Allah protect you and your family from Shaytan.
Salaamualikum,
Sumaiya

 
At September 07, 2007 12:28 AM, Blogger azucenamaryam said...

As Salaamualaikum:
You know, the things need to be said and many, many, people don't have the courage, the tact, or the concern to say a word. That is why you are so popular. Even here in the United Arab Emirates (Dubai) Really, you senarios, are real and cause much conflict. I am living amongst Muslims where As salaamulaikum is strange, its the code of beggars or wierdos. Some peoole look at you strange or pathetically when you give salaams. Especially amonst the sisters. Hey, here is the next video. I ain't gonna do it so it's your turn brother. Here are the types. The blank stare, the don't ask look, and the who are you? Do whe know each other face? To be fair, Al hamduillah some people seem really cheered up by salaams, but alot find it strange, the sign of the last days that began with Rasulallah sal Allahu alayhi wa salaam.
Allah gave you the courage and the foritude, so go for it make more and more and inshaAllah the Ummah will improve. Allah iftah alayk

 
At September 07, 2007 2:13 AM, Anonymous husna said...

assalamualaikum wrwb

Brother Ali,
In my opinion I think..opss..

Today we're living in a world where sins are considered as halal and good deeds are considered as conservative and backward. For examples; from bribery in a huge company to shake hands with the non-muhrim are considered as halal for some of the Muslims.

The problem is that, people don't realized and not aware all these actions are prohibited in Islam. Even some people considered Prophet's deeds and speeches ( sunnah) are only compatible during his time.

We're living within the society which are so proud to adapt the non-Islamic teachings to be way of life. Wa nauzubillahi minzalik.

Prophet said "Innama a'maalu biniyyat.." means every actions start with intention. To show the real things happened around us with intention to spread the real teaching of Islam will at least make us realized that what we're doing wrong things and unislamic.

But i think you're right that it will be sin to do that. " Ud'u ila sabili robbika bil-hikmah wal maui'dhotil hasanah wa jaa dilhum billati hiya ahsan" ( Invite others to Islam with wisdom, good examples and to argue with them in the best manner"

"Kuntum khairan ummatin ukhrijat linnas, ta'muruna bil ma'ruf wa tanhauna' a'nil munkar". Indeed you're the best Ummah to promote good deeds and to prohibit the wrong doings.

Did i talk on relevant topic?hehe..
Sorry, it was just opinion and I hope you will always be brother Ali who reminds people in case they forgot.

ukhti fil Islam
Husna

 
At September 07, 2007 10:56 AM, Anonymous The Truth said...

You state in your blog that you do not associate with those linked to terrorism, yet you attend an ISNA convention? ISNA is an unindicted co conspitator in the largest terrorism case in US history? Ever heard of the Holy Land Foundation case? You, sir, show your true colors. You do affiliate with supporters of terrorists, and thus, are labeled as one by me.

 
At September 07, 2007 2:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Assalamu alaikum warahamatullahi wabrakaatuh...

subhan-Allah ..how people can judge you even though your intentions are pure!!! I don't understand how someone can think of you as someone associating with terrorism!!! Like come on! The brother Ali has no intentions of supporting terrorism! Do NOT judge unless you have 100% proof that this person is guilty of an act...and who said ISNA is a supporter of terrorism???

Anyways brother, i really admire you and your pure intentions and the courage of SPEAKING UP to our muslim community, because like you said in one of your videos; some people are kinda scared of doing "Al-amr bil Ma'roof, wan-nahi 'anil-Munkar", and thats what you did. So may Allah Ta'ala bless you and keep you healthy so you can succeed in spreading the deen...because masha=Allah everything you said was HAQQ-truth.

That's all i have to say

ma'ssalam

p.s.--keep up your very good sense of humor! =)

 
At September 07, 2007 2:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't listen the 2nd to last comment above. many people including Muslims will start fitna because of their lack of fear of Allah (swt) so just learn to ignore it.

they can hide behind their keyboards but Allah (swt) is watching all of us.

 
At September 09, 2007 7:09 PM, Blogger kashif said...

salaam aleikum,

there are 3 things i'd like to add:

1. ISNA absolutely is an abysmal organization and attracts people who are either:
a. looking for a good time
b. not serious about Islam, secularists in thought and outlook
c. Parents who are trying to get their kids married off quickly.

This podcast from a Guardian reporter captures it all, from a guy who endorses women led prayer (Hijabman) to a hijabi downing beers at an "after party" from the convention:

http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/podcasts/2007/09/islamophonic_for_thursday_sept.html

2. As for the stupid trailer trash and falsely named "the truth"
No we don't all inbreed with our sisters, watch (Dumb)Fux News all day, or try to read Jihadwatch/or David WHOREowitz in between masturbating to gay porn, please find other hobbies besides spreading right wing garbage if the above has failed you so far.

3. ISNA's main claim to fame:

a. Vote "BUSH 2000" it is the way forward for the Ummah.
b. See the brown groupies draped all over "sheikh" Hamza .
c. Check out the excellent night scene in the hotel lobby (just make sure to bring protection when u do!)

Ummah films can still stay successful if it sticks to non-political and quite prepubescent topics. However sooner rather than later, a fork will come in the road and some tough issues will have to be tackled.

salaam aleikum,
Kashif

 
At September 13, 2007 6:25 PM, Anonymous Muwahida said...

Riya' is that inconspicuous shirk which is like a black ant on a black rock on a black night. The only Du'a that exempts us from it in the hereafter is:

Allah humma a'oudhu bika an ashraktu bika wa ana a'lamu wa astaghfaruka li maa a'lamu.

Oh Allah I seek refuge in You for the shirk (riya') which I may commit knowingly, and I seek Your forgiveness for that which I don't know.

Just remindin u incase u or anyone of us ever forgets ;)

 

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