Background

A group of Muslims in Chicago gather in the city's south side to clean the block and invite people to Islam. Here's a video recapping what the event was all about, the problems faced along the way, and how the team went about dealing with them.

Behind The Scenes

In 2007, there was an organized street cleaning and Da'wah event from the brothers and sisters of Islamic Oasis in Chicago, IL. A bunch of Qabeelat Wasat students went to go help out, and Wasat Studios was there to make a mini documentary out of it.

This was actually my first attempt at a documentary. It seemed simple enough, and in post-production, turned out to be simple, indeed. Film some all of the action (B-Roll Footage), and at the end of the event ask a bunch of people to comment on what happened, to use as means of interview in the documentary (A-Roll Footage). Put it all together and voila: instant documentary! Just add water.

I was even able to slightly do a Three Act Structure based on our experiences while volunteering. Stage one, setup of the street cleaning and the Da'wah that was done. Stage two, confrontation from the Christian groups out of church on Sunday. Stage three, resolution as to how we dealt with it and how the event went altogether.

I had two minor issues in all of this.

Firstly, it was a bit of a trip to walk around with a Canon XH-A1 6 lb camera on 79th St in the south side of Chicago. Besides the fact that I was a clearly Muslim and Desi guy who really stood out, a lot of people didn't like my camera. They thought I was going to expose them or something (for standing on the corner at 1pm? I didn't understand, either). I even got threats! But alhamdulillah I managed to keep it low profile throughout the day. It was kinda fun.

Second issue, it was sometimes tricky dealing with footage with bad background visuals. For instance, there was a lot of footage I took of our volunteers speaking with the heated Christian debaters. Unfortunately, in the heat of the moment, I didn't realize there was a Payless Shoe Store in the background with an inappropriate sale poster in the window until post-production.

I had to decide to either ditch all the footage, or find a way to block it out. I ended up ditching most of it and using some while blurring out the poster, which you can see in the video.

Alhamdulillah I had other footage to use instead that didn't have the poster in the background (the gentleman had a LOT to say about Christianity and against Islam, hehe), but that was a coincidence. And it just so happened that the unusable footage was more debate oriented while the usable footage was more showing the Christians' faults. I felt showing too much debate was not good, especially in light of the verse 46 from Surah ʻAnkabūt where Allah (SWT) says:

And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best

In any case, the extra footage did the job, maybe even better than the unusable footage. But a lesson was also learned: Next time gotta remember to be careful of what's in the background insha'Allah!

All in all, a great event, a great cause, and a great load of fun filming and editing it for Wasat Studios. I encourage all Muslims with camera skills to step up and film your event. With a little bit of editing, you can make your event footage into a solid promo that can serve as a great means of advertising, insha'Allah.

19 Responses

  1. Ibn Muhammad

    salam alaykoum

    May Allah reward everyone evolved with the Street Cleaning and Dawah In Chicago(amin).

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  2. aamer Khan

    great video skills ma sha Allah.

    quick question: as a photographer, i find it hard sometimes to photograph people as many of them react negatively toward a camera being pointed at them. i’ve developed a “persona” and some other tricks that help me get over this reaction

    how did you handle yourself such that, for example, the christian debater was comfortable being on camera even though he was clearly acting in a way that would make him say “dont point that camera at me!”

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    • SaqibSaab

      @aamer Khan

      how did you handle yourself such that, for example, the christian debater was comfortable being on camera even though he was clearly acting in a way that would make him say “dont point that camera at me!”

      While I did have some issues with a few people, most others took the camera just fine. Even the major Christian debater. In fact, in some of the footage it becomes humorous because as he’s talking to our volunteers, he turns and looks at the camera. Kinda like a, “oh it’s on, time to go all out.”

      Besides him, though, people knew we were an organized group on the corner doing our thing. All of us wearing comfortable “cleaning” clothes, white rubber gloves, and being either bearded or covered for brothers and sisters respectively.

      So add one of the volunteers with a camera, and the people who knew who were and why we were there didn’t mind all that much.

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  3. interesting

    play just the sound over some other visual if the background is bad

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  4. hayat

    This is one of the great way of doing the dawa , may allah reward all all of u inchalla.

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  5. chitown resident

    mashallah may allah swt reward you guys for the great work! its exemplary to see such a great group of people being proactive in the community. Growing up in the city, I know its no joke going down to the southside…

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  6. Aurora

    Asalamualaikum,

    May Allah grant you victory from above! You guys are doing an amazing job, mashallah. This is really beautiful.

    Keep up the good work, remember the reward from Allah (keep the end goal in mind), and always check your intentions: at the start, in the middle and at the end of the event.

    InshaAllah this will inspire qabeelats and organizations across North America to start something similar.

    Jazakullah khair,

    – Aurora

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  7. UmA

    Great video ma sha Allah. Megaphone woman was something else!
    More seriously though, how did the group reconcile that their sadaqah work could have been seen as insincere to the passersby, since the ulterior motive was dawah?

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  8. turtle

    time to export this idea to other qabeelahs!

    Mashallah, keep up the great work guys :)

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  9. Nahyan

    MashaAllah, that”s some excellent work.
    May Allah reward the people involved and bless your efforts.

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  10. S

    That was so beautiful you guys! MashaAllah keep it up and inshaAllah you’ll have other cities emulating these sincere actions of yours in no time. May Allah (swT) keep you guys successful in the dawah work & reward you for this. Ameen.

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