With our world and all of our lands becoming diversified the need to communicate with our neighbours and communities in dignified and respectful ways is needed more than ever. As the challenges of the world mount the need to understand each other is critical and it all begins with communication.
We asked about Madani Chronicles creator Kelvin Ali,
What were some of the challenges of designing an Islamic-themed product in a western land with a relatively small but increasing Muslim population?
“One of the greatest losses to human beings is the loss of knowledge. For me scholarship in Islam doesn’t matter what country you live in, Alims (students) and Scholars of Islam reside, teach, and are united in a love for Prophet Muhammad (saw) and to understand the Holy Quran in a universal manner. There is no racism or ignorance that is to be tolerated and it begins with communication.
The global notion and concept of a Muslim is general speaking terms is not great. Too often are the worst of humanity portrayed by those to claim to be of Islamic ideology in our media and there are those who explicitly demonize Muslims and display them for us all to see. I can understand why some people want nothing to do with Muslims after witnessing or experiencing something that didn’t make sense and the way it was communicated.
As a Muslim, often I have felt ashamed after visiting public washrooms at a convention center or whenever a large Muslim presence or event is happening in western land. I’ve seen the faces of those who are non-Muslim and we all have to use some common sense in our lifestyle and etiquette at times. Dawah can be given in many ways, and actions are by intention and can have a great impact in unfamiliar environments and social settings. We’ve been blessed for the most to live in peace and comfort and we have to live with each other so we need to be tolerant and respectful.
Keeping your environment clean and others’ property in good order is a basic concept of good manners and sometimes we do not realize the good or harm that can be done by your actions if they are misunderstood. Usually, bad manners or behavior is due to ignorance and lack of education and having good manners and behavior is the best way to portray Islam if you do not have a lot of knowledge. Like anything, do not speak if you do not know unless it’s to ask a question. And if you are asked a question that you don’t know say, ‘I don’t know’ and start your google search.
What are the challenges of designing a product? The world is small, the Pandemic connected us all virtually and now it’s opening back up again. People will emerge of all faiths, nationalities, and colours and this is a good thing as we all connect. We all have a lot of work to do and it begins from within.
Making an Islamic production in the west in my opinion is not only a good thing but also an expression of our ability to create great things for the world. We have been blessed to traverse the world in our efforts to acquire knowledge and I have learned from scholars all over our small and delicate planet and you can too. That’s why understanding and having a connection to practice your faith is important. There are distance challenges, resource challenges, and community challenges, that Muslims in the west are faced with and these also can paint different pictures when cultural influences are introduced.
The common theme I found from those I have learned from is to live with gratitude and constant love of learning and teaching Islamic principles, sciences, and Quranic explanations.
As someone who came to Islam with no knowledge of how deep the scholarship was, it was an honour to be able to follow the etiquettes of my teachers and a philosophy of learning, memorizing, teaching, and ultimately applying respectfully to a communication medium that is relative to our times in human civilization. Being from the west, I think made it easier to have different views that can be expressed respectfully to the next generation of Muslims and to those who wish to have a basic understanding of how Islam came to be. Everyone has a different learning style and visual communication is vital to civilization.
Attention spans are becoming shorter and how to we adjust to this on the fly?
Most individuals will never be introduced to Islamic history in a public system. When I when to university in Toronto, I loved the library, but there wasn’t a whole lot there pertaining to the foundation of Islam. No books of Hadith. So, I assume this is like many difficult to comprehend unless you have a good neighbour who you can learn from.
Our intention in the Beyond Badr series is to slowly introduce this knowledge into mainstream applications so the entire world can have the opportunity to learn. I think being able to directly inherit knowledge from Prophet Muhammad (saw) and the Quran in small but cool ways can make the world a better place as the next generations figure out how to get along.
Muslims residing in every part of our planet and with so many great scholars in so many parts of the world going for Friday prayers in Mosques, the need to spread a good and inspiring message is critical. For me, learning knowledge is amazing and to get so many different perspectives, wisdom, and diverse perspectives of Hadith and Tafsir from teachers who have a direct chain of scholarship in Islam to Prophetic hadith, seemed like a miracle and when I observed the mannerisms of my teachers in speech and action, I knew it was a miracle. How do you teach this to someone when you are judged within seconds by your appearance?
Racism exists in all forms and there are many human GEMS all over the world. I sought to seek to learn Islam from teachers with strong ties to various historical geographic regions of our planet and wherever I went I learned that everyone has a reason for wanting to practice Islam. I am delighted to see that mainstream media is introducing fictional characters to humanize Muslim females and give them a voice. There will always be critiques, but if the intention is for good, we should all seek this. Many of the challenges I experienced and witnessed and asked others of their pains were taken into consideration in our design to make something wonderful for the world. Being in Canada and from Toronto certainly helped in understanding a typical western market and consumer so I think we did a good job addressing design concerns. We can’t keep everyone happy, but we’ll keep trying to make great products and experiences for those who are of any level of familiarity with Islam. Our products are meant to educate and inspire and if you are a seeker of knowledge, our comics are full of blessings for the reader and also for the characters of Islamic history who are preserved forever in authentic Hadith and portrayed in the stories we are telling.
Our effort within the Madani Chronicles seeks to include as much knowledge and wisdom as we could put into each panel of art that was created.
I hope that the Western and English-speaking audiences who don’t have time, access, or ability to learn from scholars on a full-time basis have a great snapshot of each event that we covered and there are so many good lessons to be learned.
I believe that we have complemented the Islamic Ummah and the entire global community with our work and that is something that I am proud to say was done in the country where I was born, which is Canada. So, what was it like? Our readers can certainly learn about tribalism and when if at all it is permissible in Islam. It was a fun journey but really hard work, that’s what it was like.
The medium and the design choices we made were based on what is currently and relative to western audiences and things will evolve and change even more rapidly in days to come. We made each episode into ‘bite-sized’ chunks and we have covered a lot, but not everything.
Our comics will, God willing open the door to understanding Islamic history in simple, effective, and very entertaining ways as we evolve and build out transmedia product experiences. It will be harder work and even more fun, but this is an actual legacy building in the west and this is a good thing. The challenges were part of the process. What were they all?
Everything you can think of and even more come our way, I am sure. That’s why we ask people to come on the journey with us because we’re just starting to scrape the surface. The comic line is our handshake to the world. It’s going to be awesome as our community grows.
I hope that more bid media players will invest in Muslim IPs and products. Communication is a global experience and after decades of demonizing Muslims, damage control is needed from everyone. A minimal level of respect and understanding for each other no matter where we live is required.
Each generation we will lose great scholars and wonderful human beings so preservation of knowledge will continue to be eroded around the world from an Islamic perspective and this loss of knowledge will not benefit us all as a global civilization.
It brings me great comfort to know that we’ve partnered with so many great brands to bring accessibility to knowledge. It was awesome to design something with an intrinsic benefit embedded for all involved literally.
And for our fans, newbie consumers, social media followers, or whatever. Just knowing in my heart that anyone who reads our comics will be rewarded for a good deed in seeking beneficial knowledge and also directly ‘inheriting knowledge’ from Prophet Muhammad (saw) from our comics – Man, I think that in and of itself is a very cool side effect and benefit and Allah (swt) knows best.”
As always, Kelvin told us with a zeal and an aptitude to help us genuinely have more clarity. We had a great experience as we all learned a lot more than we ever expected we would about Islam working on the Madani Chronicles. Making these comics was incredible and we hope that you are enjoying the journey.
Our last issue will be released in 2022 and we hope you check out the entire series! Why not get started by learning more about Beyond Badr?
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Beyond Badr Dev Team