Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Sadi Stars

In keeping with my new found ideals, that is being inclusive and brave enough to share my dreams with others. I came up with the idea of a brand new blog post. The idea was to highlight those artists that embody the founding principles of Sadisoft.

To reiterate, we at Sadisoft are striving to achieve the means by which Muslims can project a better image of themselves. For the most part this projection or voice is through some form of storytelling. Whether its through the various sci-fi stories, written with a prominent Muslim character. Or video games and multimedia that brings that story world to life. The aim is to produce products that fit this ideal.

It pleases my heart to see others who have also embraced this ideal. So many fellow Muslim artists have done so much in this field. They are the true torch bearers and an inspiration as they lead the way. In the past I have highlighted these fine people on this very blog. Names such as Yusuf Islam, Dr Naif Al-Mutawa, Ahmed A. Khan, The Ebady brothers, Mustafa Davis, Guide US TV and others have been featured here.

But in the months since so many more notable contenders have taken stage. Seeing the dizzying array of stories out there I set out to chronicle them in an article I'd like to call Sadi Stars. A Sadi Star is an artist who has produced work that embodies the spirit of sadisoft. That is an artist who has shown their light on the religion of Islam and on the religion's followers in a positive manner. This is such a huge contribution to the ummah, which is constantly being attacked by mainstream media. In that context it becomes ever important for others to see our voice, our side of the story, our take on current events. If only to paint a more balanced picture.

So without further ado let's bring up the Sadi Stars!!!

Its an age old prejudice that narrow minded non-believers and even liberal minded Muslims have about a woman who chooses to cover her body in an all encompassing veil or burkah. Their first objection is that a women would never choose to do this to herself. Its a form of oppression. Of course when women choose to tattoo themselves or pierce sensitive body parts that is form of liberation. An expression of creative energy!

It amazes me that they never stop and consider that maybe just maybe this woman chooses not to flaunt her physical beauty so that she may not be distracted in her pursuit of higher spiritual awareness. In my opinion you can hold x number of conferences on this issue. Invite x number of experts to debate the pros and cons of the burqah to death. And you'll still have high schoolers yelling "towel head" at the only muslim girl in their school. How do you reach that crowd? How to give solace to that girl?

Enter Haroon and his fantastic series Burka Avengers; Haroon is known in paki circles as a solo pop star. He has topped national charts and has risen to international acclaim, with his unique blend of Pakistani Pop. He has certainly made me proud, who knew that while he was gyrating on stage inside beat the heart of a true humanitarian. In an interview he explains how his mother would read him bedtime stories and he was able to pickup on the moral of the story. This helped him shape his moral compass in the ensuing years.

With a high illiteracy rate, most Pakistani children do not have this luxury. Haroon wanted to reach these kids with an engaging and well scripted cartoon show. What's more he was traumatized by the Invasion of the frontier lands by the Taliban (as were many Pakistanis). He duly noted that the enemy's first order of business was to do away with education. Bombing schools left and right ensured the masses stayed within the shackles of poverty and hopelessness. The Burka Avenger seeks to fill that void break the shackles of poverty (which is also a running theme of this blog) and brings hope where there is none. The show emphasizes that this is all possible with education for the nation's children, especially girls.

Speaking of which, MW actually got me onto the series she was cruising youtube one night and stumbled upon it. If you understand Urdu your going to get a kick out of the storyline. With an all star cast you are in for a treat. The voice over and soundtrack are absolutely world class. Its well scripted with fully imagined characters who you can come to care about. Plus the animation is superb so no eyesores here.

At a time when the masses have lost all hope in their leadership, as they have made it all too clear that they are in it for themselves despair and hopelessness is rampant. Especially in Muslim dominated countries the formula is all too familiar a puppet regime at the beck and call of imperial powers makes one ghastly decision after another. Slowly selling out the people, their hopes and ambitions to the highest bidder. In these times where can people turn to for inspiration?

A young group of sharp filmmakers has taken on this challenge. By day Peace House Productions makes its bread and butter by filming wedding receptions but by night (?) the production crew turns its creative energy on Salahadin. A film by the people for the people. They seek to document the extraordinary life of Islam's acclaimed General. A true liberator in the eyes of the masses Salahadin has always inspired the Ummah. It only made sense to revisit his story with a fresh perspective.

In modern times we don't have saviors such as these but WAAR (the Urdu word for Strike) comes close. Audience are taken into the inner workings of Pakistan's intelligence agency as they do battle with foreign and domestic threats. Based on true events this is a highly anticipated film. Me and MW can't wait until it reaches NY's shores! (don't forget the Turks! they have something like this too!)

MW was also stoked by Marvel's Kamal Khan. I've been reading Marvel comics off and on (I am currently ploughing through their Star Trek offerings) and I know they have showcased Muslim characters in the past. Their stories were given due respect and with enough depth to pass off as legitimate. That's why I was not too surprised that they were starting a new series with a female super hero who happened to belong to the religion of Islam. I haven't read the first issue yet but plan to when it comes out. It has some seasoned hands behind it so I am sure they will put out excellent work.

Ah the joys of assimilation. It's not often easy. At times it can be down right nasty. Take the example of Monem Salam as he fulfills his long time desire to learn to fly. For a brown guy in a post 9/11 world learning to fly is a tall order. Join Monem and his family as they embark on this adventurous journey. Produced by Unity Productions Foundation (UPF) On a Wing and a Prayer is an excellent DVD me and MW picked up at ISNA this year. We picked a few more titles that were quite pleasing. Such as the one about a troupe of comedians who happen to be Muslim, lolz!.

Miraj Audio is making waves with their collection of audio books, which focus on Islamic stories for youngsters. I remember reading storybooks in Sunday school they helped form my moral compass. Kindness to animals, respect of parents, fear of Allah are some of the basic teachings of Islam. Imparting these teachings to kids in Western societies can be a challenged. As they are often distracted by mainstream media (is Pokemon still cool?). That's why it makes sense to present these classic stories and timeless values in a medium that will cut through all the noise and reach our children's hearts.

Hats off to all the Sadi Stars! In my efforts to document all the ways people of the Ummah are promoting their beliefs and values I too got motivated to pursue my projects with more gusto and assertiveness. Keep tuning in, lots more to come in new year 2014!

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