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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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At October 03, 2006 2:36 AM, Blogger mahi1282ve said...

great to have you back posting bro. its always a pleasure. im definitly gna get the game.. wasn't sure if we could get it here in UK but £11.26 is not a big deal at all.. thnks loadz for puttin in so mch effport just for the benefit of the ummah and Ramadhan Mubarak to muslims all round the world. can't wait for the next season!
May Allah guide us all to the right path inshAllah

At October 03, 2006 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Got the game bro and I can tell its loads of fun bro! at least 10 of my friends have played it at my place and they all loved it. I would definitely recommend it!

At October 03, 2006 5:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Looks like a great game - I might just order a copy!

One thing I do have to say though is that you brought life to that show - I don't think I'd be able to just watch an episode of that show - unfortunately it's a common problem on Bridges TV.

At October 04, 2006 10:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

is the game suitable for children, or just adults? my kid is 5 1/2 years old

At October 05, 2006 6:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would suggest 8 years old and above. I think 5 1/2 is a little too young. When I took the game to the game to a conference, I was expecting teenagers (middle school and highschool) and college age players to be playing the game. But when I arrived, very young kids who were bored at the bazaar (usually kids from other vendors) started hanging around our booth. Pretty soon, my booth was flooded with young children, which was nice but I think it scared off the older crowd because it looked like I was selling a little kid's product. Here is a pic of my booth that day: http://muslimgames.blogspot.com/2005/09/when-was-last-time-you-saw-this-many.html

The confernce was completely dead. It felt like there were more vendors that customers. At one point, me and a brother told one of the younger kids to watch our booth and went to play basketball at 3 on 3 tournament in the hotel where the conference was being held. Yeah it was that dead! Vendors were complaining about how slow it was but I had a fun time. Usually food at the bazaar is pretty expensive but kept getting food deals due to their lack of customes. NOw that's a first (getting cheap food at an Islamic conference in the states).

Anyways, my booth was flooded with almost all the vendor's kids (which for some reason were from the very young age group) so parents kept walking up to my booth and thinking that we were playing "Pokeman". Pokeman? No way. I never even played Pokeman and I kept telling parents that this game has nothing to do with it and they would just walk away. I guess they figured that if the kids were so much into a game, it must be a non-Islamic game, but it was the exact opposite. With older teenagers, adults, and parent assuming that my flood booth of children was because of pokeman, I only made 1 sale the entire day.

I couldn't figure out what happened. I mean almost all my customers in Los Angeles were the high school / college age group and that was my target audience. I even had Mecca to Medina game tournaments setup and with prizes but the young children, who were loving the game, were scaring off my target audience. Although the bazaar was really dead, my booth was pretty crowded with kids playing the game.

The next day, I change my tone and told the parents that my game wasn't pokeman but rather an alternative to Pokeman. That opened the door for me to explain what my game was. Pretty soon, I noticed that parents gave me a chance to explain the game to them and Alhamdulillah around 71 games were sold that day.

I guess I learned from my mistkae of targeting one specific age group. At the next conference, 192 games were sold. Alhamdulillah.


At October 07, 2006 3:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

AlhamduliLlah..its great to hear bout the Mecca to Medina board game but kinda sad that its not available here in Malaysia. Do you have any other alternative of me having them here? miftahulsudur@gmail.com insha ALlah, Salaam Ramadhan Kareem.. akhi fiLlah, khairul anwar

At October 08, 2006 1:56 PM, Blogger Yasser Rahman said...

It isnt letting me use my debit card on that link :? Is there some other way I could get the game in India?

At October 09, 2006 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I checked the offer after I ordered online! =)
Oh Well I just bought the game and 10 bands to help out this great project.
Please let me know if there are other ways I can contribute.
Allah yahdee Jamee Al Muslemeen

At October 09, 2006 11:46 AM, Blogger Baba Ali said...

Assalammu' Alaikum,

If for any reason, you are not able to purchase the game from muslimgames.com, you can always goto our sister site, which is located in the UK www.muslim-games.co.uk

If are you in the UK, you'll save money on shipping and you'll get your package fast InshAllah since you will be buying locally. Otherwise, the games are shipped out from Los Angeles.

At October 12, 2006 1:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Assalamoalaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakaatuh
Alhamdulillah, Bro. Ali is offering a very generous Ramadaan special. On the UK website we are also offering a special promotion. Every order comes with a free Muslim wristband, and orders of 2 or more game qualify for FREE postage and packing.
Remember that orders placed before 3pm on a weekday will be dispatched on the SAME DAY and should reach you the next morning.
If you wish to receive your game in time for Eid, it is advised to place your order by Wednesday 18th October.

Jazakumullah Khairun
Fee amaanillah

p.s. I'm not being kanjoos with the wristbands, it's just that the parcel weighs 498g with 1 wristband, but goes up to over 500g if I put 2, which means it goes up to the next postage band :(

Ramadaan Mubaarak to all UmmahFilms viewers and subscribers. Please remeber the entire ummah in your duas. Insha Allah.

At November 04, 2006 11:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it there any other way to make payment for those from oversea other than using credit card.....????

At November 06, 2006 5:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope "the game was being mass produced" in china under fair and safe working conditions.

At November 07, 2006 6:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Assalamo Aleikom wa Rahmatollahi wa Barakatuh!

the game seems nice, n i think u can learn alot from it.

i was wonderring if it is possible to take away the music in ur clips.. as i hope u know, music is haram.. so it would be much better without it.

Barak Allahu fik akhi

At April 20, 2008 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Assalamu 'Alaikum
I only found out about this game today!! i really want it, researching countless websites for hours it seems they are all sold out, plus im in London UK! please can somebody help, i would really like to buy this game. Baba Ali please can u sell it on your site again. JAZAKALLAH KHAIR

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