Beyond Badr, The Madani Chronicles is a collective effort to bring about an awareness of Islamic history, we caught up with creator Kelvin Ali, to ask about the research and development of the project.
“It’s been a long time. We started with our initial game design and managed to build out a prototype early into our initial plan. There were several difficulties gaining traction and we went on the road, locally, nationally, and internationally as we explored development options and potential talent while we learned about all aspects of the game industry.
I have shown our concepts to business and entertainment professionals in several locations around the world, from small coffee lounge discussions to major international licensing development opportunities and while there was always a great interest in the unknown, the persuasion of media portrayal and consistent negative publicity that I’ve witnessed towards Muslims since 9/11, certainly gave me at the very least a great dawah opportunity to markets I never could have imagined. Visiting China and participating in an international animation festival certainly opened up my eyes to things I didn’t imagine based on my own limited experiences and cultural beliefs.
Research for the production truly began in 2010 and I had only flushed out a limited narrative based on a single hadith of Abu Sufyan (RA) caravan expedition and the summoning of all Arabs to come before Emperor Heraclius. Initially, I didn’t understand the full chronology of how various hadiths could place the timing of the event but we started with that to the design team. There was a lot of brainstorming involved as we broke into creative teams and just thought about all of the cool ways to make a game with this content.
The pandemic certainly halted a lot of our transmedia production goals for game and animation and geopolitical financial markets made it difficult to deal with countries where we identified great talent and as an indie developer, we needed to keep asset production costs as low as possible. Bootstrapping isn’t easy so we explored markets and talent from Asia, India, South America, and I attended many international conferences always curious.
Covid-19 caused the greatest difficulties upon us with travel restrictions, all productions coming to a halt, and an immediate need to focus and pivot quickly, remotely, and manage the fear of an unknown virus and plague. No vaccines, uncertainty, and chaos, caused us to review our entire asset library and I started writing. The entire comic narrative was completed and we achieved a massive run and re-revamp that we are blessed to be completing this year.
We had to focus on 1 thing and scale everything else back in order to make it through a very difficult time as all assets for all productions were being developed simultaneously. We had no choice but to scale back in order to still have future momentum and I can say that now as the world prepares to open back up again, I am optimistic that better days can be had. It doesn’t seem like it at the moment when 1 week ago we did not have an open war waging in Europe but Allah (swt) tells us that after every hardship will come ease and I pray for all of the people of the world for peace. I wrote Beyond Badr to explain what Islamic warfare was, why it happened, the circumstances surrounding the people and global civilization at the time based on hadith and Quran because I also couldn’t put the pieces together.
Terrible wars of the past caused libraries of Islamic culture and knowledge to be burned and destroyed but the miracle of the Quran has held true to this day and I hope that this Ramadan the word continues to spread on this exciting and very cool historical and highly educational product we’ve developed. When I think about how much content we managed to align art assets and narrative to it’s an incredible accomplishment and I am very proud of my team and very grateful to all of my teachers who helped me to develop an understanding of who Prophet Muhammad (saw) was, what the words of the Quran linguistically meant in logical and clear English to me. May Allah (swt) preserve all of my dear teachers and grant them the highest levels of Jannah, so many gems of humans from all corners of the world.
For me becoming a practicing Muslim in my 20s brought about a different kind of enlightenment and every time I had a question, I would seek out the advice of a reputable shaykh or scholar. Often, they would always have a reasonable, clear, and a good answer for me that was acceptable. It’s much easier today to learn a great deal about Islam online, but back then I was pretty much on my own often at times. I felt alienated sometimes going to different masjids and I witnessed and experienced all kind of things as I tried to find my path.
The environment was very difficult especially considering the rise of Islamophobia, but Allah (swt) kept my heart firm and allowed me to have the best of teachers. My travels and pursuit of knowledge to study personally and professionally have taken me to many places. I’ve learned from many voices and as I age, I am grateful that I invested so much time, energy and resources into my own pursuit of ‘why?’ as it relates to being a human being. This Ramadan we created a great social media run with small and beneficial daily knowledge posts. Simple terminology, du’a from hadith and Quran and our objective is to have anyone who reads any of our posts get some divine reward for every letter they read in just a few seconds of social media time. People consume so much invaluable content, we truly want to provide something of value, that is real, educational, inspirational, motivational, and just good daily wisdom, so I hope our community appreciates all the effort our team put into the creative dawah. I wish I had things laid out so simply for me and that is what Beyond Badr is. Making our history easier to understand and I think we did a fabulous job. Time will tell and I am sure our fans will as well in days to come. Insh’Allah.
What I can say to anyone who will listen or read this week’s blog is that if you are new to Islam and would like some clarity on what Prophet Muhammad (saw) went through in order to build a legacy for humanity, I have tried my best to chronologically create a beautiful visual depiction of Islamic history. It’s for anyone who whats to understand what a Muslim is and how we came to be. This knowledge is not taught in western public schools or institutions in any kind of concise manner. I had zero Islamic history knowledge taught to me in Canadian Public school and even fewer options in university electives.
Euro-centric influences that have shaped modern western civilization today certainly have shown me as a product of cultural integration that there is a lot of work to be done. A lot of bridges are still being built and a lot of communication needs to be had. If you know nothing of a subject or of a people, it is intimidating when all you have seen are horrific acts of a few who do not represent the views of us all. It is good and bad in every society and civilization and we chose to portray the better lessons and wisdom from authentic hadith and Quran revelation in Beyond Badr. I noticed the need to communicate to people such as myself who come to Islam and then become hungry for knowledge. The pursuit of it will never end. 20 years and all I could do was 8 years for the world so I hope the next generations will build awesome creative Islamic art and experiences. Put the time and effort in and maybe you will even have some perpetual reward in the afterlife. That was always an intention as I age and reflect on the choices we have made with this IP.
Every human being is a gift and has a unique gift to offer so I hope that what we have tried to do will the Madani Chronicles will resonate with this generation and for the next ones to come who are curious, seeking clarity of purpose and seeking answers to questions that may help them to understand their own fragmented cultural history. With parents from the Caribbean tracing ancestral roots even a few hundred years back is very difficult. So, I can imagine the dilemma of a revert to Islam from the west being a 2nd or 3rd generation citizen. No matter where you are from as you age you will learn to ask better questions.
We’ve researched the Seerah and we’ve tried to fit in as much content as we could into each episode, but there is a lot that we could not include, due to episode volume length, relevance to events, and standardization of content. But we got in a lot. These are wonderful stories and books that I am hoping will become part of every Muslim’s bookshelf and hopefully all humans who are fans of history, comics, and want to explore something from a mystical time and place in human civilization.
Our transmedia offerings to come will enhance and fill in anything we wanted to cover that isn’t in the comic narrative, so we hope fans begin the journey early and familiarize themselves with the characters and content in 2D because the best is yet to come!
In my humble opinion as a man who was seeking knowledge sincerely, I do believe that this is the best visual narrative of the Seerah on the planet and I have been to an incredible amount of Islamic book shops. If a product like this existed, I wouldn’t have had the desire or need to create one for our Ummah and for the world. Islamic history is very cool. I know our team was impressed and I’ve opened their minds and hearts to a people and subject many were very unfamiliar and some very skeptical of.
I mandate excellence for myself, Ihsan ‘excellence’ in everything I do and if there are mistakes, they are certainly from myself only and May Allah (swt) forgive me, but we asked wonderful people of knowledge for feedback and I know I did my best. Thousands of hours of R&D have gone into this. Islamophobia is old-fashioned racism and we teach about that in the comics as well through real experiences of the Sahabah (RA). Circumstances around the events that caused revelation to an Abrahamic Prophet (saw) are real history preserved in the Muslim books of Hadith and eternally in the Quran. You can study any branch of Islam for your entire life and still not know everything, so I hope wherever and whatever your level of knowledge is, our comics will bring more clarity to your understanding of Islam. Young, Old, Beginner or Scholar to be, there is something of benefit for everyone, it’s Prophetic (saw) wisdom so it has to be useful to humans.
We hope that whatever we’ve created for the world to be recorded as a good deed and is of benefit for all of humankind. We provide an incredible amount of free content for our fans and community so I do hope that the world is enjoying what we do. These comics are meant to evoke a range of emotions for Muslims and Non-Muslims, and I truly believe that many hearts can be softened through our work. Insh’Allah”
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