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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Suggestions, Examples & Ideas for future video blog

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

The first video for Season 2 regarding Hijab was filmed and edited before I got a chance to read many of the comments on the last post. So this time, I want to post up the subject first and then those who have suggestions on that subject, can post it in the comment section. Please post examples as well, which helps with the idea process. Here are two possible topics for a future episode (please post ideas/examples/suggestions in the comment section):

Muslims dealing in business
Many Muslims have no problem acting Islamic when it comes to prayer, fasting, hajj, etc...but unfortunately the rules of Islam are often ignored when it comes to business practices.

Going through the motions
We often see Muslims who just do actions in Islam without really thinking about it. It almost becomes a series of rituals, which are done unconsciously.

The goal is to keep it short and sweet. The challenging part is to make it entertaining while different so it doesn't sound like a lecture that the audience has heard a hundred times. Keep in mind that I can't take every suggestion, because of time limit but once enough suggestions have been submitted to come up with a video, then I will gather the information and try to film & edit it.

The video has the potential of reaching 1/2 million people InshAllah so if you ever wanted the opportunity to be of part of something with such a big dawah potential, here it is.

The success is out of our hands, but we can do our part and put in the effort InshAllah.
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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Topic for the first episode of Season 2 - Hijab?

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

JazakAllah khair for all the emails. SubhanAllah, there are two people answering emails constantly and we are still unable to reach the unread email count down to zero. The lowest we got it down was 43 emails to respond to but while you're answer one email, more emails are coming in and it feels like an endless struggle. Now I know what the mailman feels like. Your words of support really encourages us to continue with the projects of Ummah Films. JazakAllah khair.

Many of the emails have about suggestions/topic ideas for upcomings shows. Alhamdulillah there have been plenty of great suggestions but I can only choose some of them. Since my goal is to complete 8 new episodes for Season 2, I can only have 8 new topics for this season. If there is a Season 3, I can use the other topics then InshAllah. Since I write, edit, and film the shows myself, its very time consuming. I have a normal life like everyone else and last season, I found myself up until the middle of the night trying to write/edit/and film some of the episodes. After a while, you feel burned out and I don't want to do it for the sake of doign it. I want to do it for the right reasons InshAllah.

I think the reason some people find "The Reminder" series entertaining is because it deals with topics that we often may think about but not necessarily say (kinda of like what comedians do..bringing up topics that some people are too afraid to say but since its done in humour...people aren't offended). So I brought up these issues with my opinions on them and people laughed. Some topics were more serious while others were comical but for some reason or another....people watched. I told Thinking Brother that if I do episode 8 "Culture vs Islam", we were going to lose viewers because it was a "sensitive" topic. Keep in mind, my goal wasn't to win a popularity contest but rather speak the truth. Well the impact was the exact opposite...we didn't lose viewers...we gained much more than before (I was suprised). Amazing enough, around 100,000 people a month are watching the videos and Season 1 ended a while ago.

The goal with the videos is to remind the viewer and myself of the little things that we do that is not part of Islam and that we should go back to practicing Islam properly so we can be successful in this life and in the hereafter.

For Season 2, I want to continue the same trend up of bringing up the unspoken issues, even if it means that I have to bring up sensitive topics. If I do bring up a common topic like withu/prayer, I don't want to say the things we have all heard already so many times in lectures/khutbah but rather I want to talk about the side of those issues that often goes unaddressed.

So what the first topic on Season 2? Hijab.

Hijab? (you can't be serious?...)
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Monday, October 23, 2006

Eid Mubarak! 500,000 Views! Alhamdulillah

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

Eid Mubarak!

May Allah accept all our deeds during Ramadan, and allow us to
continue, and build upon our 'ibadah during the month for the rest of the year.

Alhamdulillah the reminder videos have been watch 500,000 times so far. The Ummah Films t-shirts are offically SOLD OUT. The DVDs have sold out 6 times in the last two months. Alhamdulillah. I had zero idea that this many people would even be watching something so simple.

I pray the success of all this doesn't get to my head and Allah (swt) strengthens my iman so I can keep my intentions pure. I do not plan to change anything for Season 2. I hope to continue to video blog series starting November 3rd. The videos are a reminder to myself before anyone else. Now that Ramadan is over, we should continue to strive to do good deeds, InshAllah.

JazakAllah khair for everyone's comments and emails of support.

your brother in Islam,

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Mecca to Medina Interview that inspired Ummah Films

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

Ramadan Kareem. It was around last year this time that I flew to NY to do the interview for Bridges TV. I had invented a game called Mecca to Medina which was featured at ISNA Chicago and the CEO of Bridges TV invited me to do a 30 minute show on the game (so I did). At the station, I got a chance to talk to the staff, check out the equipment, and got a pretty good idea of what was involved with putting a show together. So when I got back to Los Angeles, I made a phone call to Thinking Brother and pitch the idea of starting Ummah Films. Thinking Brother comes from a journalist background and had written screenplays and quickly fell in love with the idea behind Ummah Films. The rest is history.

As far as the Mecca to Medina game, the game has been selling really well Alhamdulillah. Amazing enough, I have many non-Muslim customers buying this Islamic game and it has been actually reviewed by the gaming community. Unlike other Islamic games, Mecca to Medina doesn't require previous Islamic knowledge to play it. It is more of a strategy game that has an Islamic theme to it, so it allows anyone to play it. About two years ago, a brother who was visiting one of my neighbors knocked on my door and asked if I had any board games. I told him I wasn't sure (since I didn't really play board games) and after doing some searching, I found a Monopoly board (which I wasn't even sure if it was mine since it looked brand new). He told me he wasn't interested and was hoping for something different. Right now, I had an idea to make a Muslim Board game, much different than any Islamic game out there. It took hundreds of hours of planning, designing, playtesting, and working with mechanics. Eventually the game, Mecca to Medina, was invented and the only thing left was to take it to random people and see what they think of it.

I had a bunch of people in their 20’s play the game first and they loved it. Soon I was trying to get as much random people as possible to try it : young kids, teenagers, adults, etc...I had a all-sister game, a game with just fathers, and all the feedback was REALLY positive. Actually, it came back too positive so I was worried thought that maybe people were just being nice to me. So I decided to take it to the Masjid where I had some brothers which I just met for the first time to play it. I didn't mention that I invented the game so they assumed it was something I bought. Anyways, the loved the game and two of them asked where I bought it from so they could buy it too. That was the spark! Soon after, the game was being mass produced in China. Alhamdulillah, nearly 1200 games have been sold since the game debut last April (amazing Alhamdulillah) and it has been featured in the media, on the radio, and in other publications magazine.

Mecca to Medina isn't your typical trivia pursuit question/answer Islamic game but rather it is very different than any Islamic game in the market. It game deals with collecting resources, trading, events, and of course negotiating. The game is very interactive and I think that one of the reasons that its such a hit. At the conferences, I found families and friends really getting into. At one conference, we ran out of tables in our booth so we had to make table out of boxes. At one point, we had around 20 people playing in different games at the same time, some people were even sitting on the floor. I would stand in front of my booth and when people would walk by, I would ask them “When was the last time you saw this many people playing an Islamic game?” They would usually respond with a smile and "Never". That would open the door for me to explain the details of the game. Alhamdulillah, in its first six months, the game became the #1 Muslim game on the market.

Anyways, here is a clip from the original interview on Bridges TV:

Can’t see the video? Try watching it on Youtube

For the one year anniversary, I want to give the Ummah Films crowd a special deal on the game. You can get Mecca to Medina, which currently retail for $25 on the website, for only $20 and you will also receive two free glow in the dark MUSLIM wristbands at no additional charge. The deal ends when Ramadan ends InshAllah. It will make a great eid gift and honesty, it’s really a fun game to play. You can read the reviews on www.muslimgames.com and all the major Islamic stores carry the game as well. Click on the link below to get the special price:


(Please note the deal ends when Ramadan ends and I’m giving the special price for the Ummah Films audience so the only way to get this offer is by clicking on the link above)
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