A Muslim imam in Indiana has launched a video series aimed at countering the extremist messages being embraced and perpetuated by the Islamic State, producing clips that he hopes will clear up misinformation and help prevent the terror group from recruiting youths.
Reclamation Studios, part of a nonprofit called Bridge Generations, is run by Omar Ali, a 37-year-old Muslim faith leader who launched the effort back in June after becoming increasingly concerned over the Islamic State's violent acts and messages.
"Young men and women who are committed to the faith begin [to] wonder why ISIS is not the right way. That is a big first step," he said of his concern over the impact the Islamic State is having on young people. "It's not 'Hey, I'm considering joining ISIS,' but it's 'Hey, I will start thinking about what I am hearing from them. But that’s the first step on the journey toward a one-way ticket to their so-called caliphate."
Ali, who is a chemical engineer and an imam at the Islamic Society of Evansville in Indiana, approached his community at an event he held back in June to unveil plans for a YouTube series to counter messages being perpetuated by the Islamic State, the Huffington Post reported.
See one of his videos about jihad below:
During the event, Ali showed fellow Muslims an example video in which he discussed tenets of the Muslim faith and proclaimed that the Islamic State's actions "couldn’t be further from the faith they claim."
The community reacted, with over $35,000 in donations coming in to make the series a reality; Ali has already released 20 videos and has plans for a total of 70 clips in upcoming months.
He will focus on everything from the life of the Prophet Muhammad to tackling why the Islamic State is wrong in its theology. Past videos have already tackled jihad, the role of woman and other related issues.
Real-estate investor named Bashar Hamami is Reclamation Studios' biggest supporter, giving Ali $25,000 to create the video series and telling the Huffington Post that the effort is one that he truly believes could have a major impact.
"To me, evil is when you have people who are not taking a stand," said Hamami.
Ali works with Zac Parsons, a self-described humanist and a former pastor, to create and publish the videos; both men also appear on-screen in the clips, according to the Huffington Post.
Muslim children and others are using the videos to help halt contentious debates with friends and others who have questions about Islam and Muslim extremism more specifically.
According to the Reclamation Studios' website, the effort is also aimed at countering the narrative about Islam that Ali believes has been painted and perpetuated in media.
Here's a video on Islam and religious freedom:
"As believers in the potential of humanity, we feel that there is too much negative messaging and a ‘scarcity’ paradigm being perpetuated in the media that skews the understanding of Islam," a description read. "We believe we have lost our defining mission as a human family, which is to elevate the earth and its inhabitants to the peace and prosperity God intended for us."
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(H/T: Huffington Post)
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