Category Archives: Media

Ramadan & Media Relations: 18 Ways To Create Positive “Newsworthy” Stories

Ramadan_newsworthy

By Taha Ghayyur

“Media is all anti-Muslim.”

“We should boycott media because it’sthe source of Islamophobia.”

“No one is interested in our stories in corporate media!”

While these sentiments and generalizations are common in the Muslim community, dwelling on them and propagating them doesn’t help our cause.

Media bias and Islamomphobic rhetoric certainly exist. There is no denying of anti-Muslim agenda among some media outlets and journalists.

However, media personnel and journalists are humans like us. Engaging them positively with genuine human stories can turn things around.

Media in the US and Canada is constantly looking for original “newsworthy”  stories of peace loving Muslims living their faith in North America.

A key reason why our stories don’t get published or featured in the mainstream media is that we don’t know how to create and pitch stories that are “newsworthy”. Media is not interested in showcasing our theology or what morals our faith preaches! Nor does it care about covering an event or an occasion.

For media, the bottom line is ratings, which translate into dollars. The more original, human, and exciting your story, the higher your chance would be of getting the sound bites.

So, How Do We Create “Newsworthy” Stories?

As the public opinion about Islam and Muslims in the US and Canada plummets to record low, and Muslims witness a sharp increase in discrimination, Ramadan is a unique time to engage media.

Given the fact that Ramadan and Eid season is a good 4-5 week long “holiday season” for Muslims, it offers an excellent opportunity to portray Islam and Muslims in a positive light.

Here are a few things to keep in mind about the stories you conceive this Ramadan and Eid for productive media relations.

Your Story Should

  • Be more human than philosophical or preachy (Humanize Ramadan and Islam by featuring a story of a person, or family, or community)

  • Have a local connection (A local resident, business, Masjid, or community)

  • Be as unique and interesting as possible (First Ramadan of a convert, Iftar event at the  City Hall, a celebrity visiting a Masjid, or a Ramadan food drive)

  • Show significant numbers that your story impacts (The number people in the neighborhood or city who are fasting, or the number of people participating at an event)

  • Be ideally set against the backdrop of hate, terrorism, and Islamophobia (How will this Ramadan story help create a positive image about Islam and Muslims? How will this help make America or Canada better?)

  • Consider ways to connect with a local cause or hot social issue in the city that community cares about (#BlackLivesMatter, homelessness, or elections)

  • Consider involving or inviting a VIP or a celebrity to increase credibility of the story (Mayor, radio show host, sports personality, CEO of local food bank, or a local interfaith leader)

  • Focus on cultural dimensions of Ramadan and Eid (Diversity, multiculturalism, food, family, or community spirit)

17 Ideas for a Potential “Newsworthy” Story

  1. “First Ramadan in the Life of a Convert Muslim” (Invite media to cover the entire cycle from Suhoor to Taraweeh and contrast with his / her life before embracing Islam)

  2. “A Day in the Life of a Young Muslim in Ramadan” (Show how Ramadan disciplines and humanizes young Muslims in contrast with usual portrayal of Muslim youth being extremists….etc.)

  3. “Spirit of Giving” featuring a Muslim Entrepreneur (Showcase a generous donation by a Muslim business person to a social cause in Ramadan. Make it an annual tradition)

  4. “Invite Your Neighbor to Iftar” at a Masjid or at someone’s house.

  5. “Ramadan Cuisine” series, featuring a different cultural Iftar every day / week

  6. “Ramadan Food Drive” for a local food bank (Show Muslims collecting and delivering food)

  7. “Iftar with Our Homeless Neighbors” (Organize the largest city soup kitchen at Iftar time)

  8. “Stronger Family Campaign” in Ramadan (Do a media release and launch of the campaign, showcasing how Ramadan brings families together and strengthens these bonds)

  9. “Fasting Muslims for #BlackLivesMatter” Rally (Peaceful demonstration in support for African Americans or Canadians)

  10. “Multi-Masjid Open House” (Mass advertise in mainstream media a coordinated open house at several ‘public-friendly’ professionally run mosques in your city, featuring brief engaging lectures, mosque tours, cultural food, and giveaways)

  11. “Iftar or Eid Celebration” hosted by the Mayor, or Councillors, or a Congressperson / Member of Parliament

  12. “Eid for All Celebration” (invite public and media to enjoy and celebrate Eid day with the community, starting with Eid prayer)

  13. “Smile at Your Brother” Ramadan Campaign (Design flyers and posters with smiling Muslims promoting smiling and friendliness since it’s Ramadan. Make this campaign go viral on social media)

  14. “Live Simply, So Others Can Simply Live” Ramadan Campaign (Show how Muslims can live without food and water for 12-18 hours)

  15. “Healthy Eating” Ramadan Campaign

  16. “Green Ramadan” Campaign (Show how your local Masjid is making Iftars and Taraweeh environmentally friendly)

  17. “Experience the Melodious Quran Day” (Invite best Qaris / reciters of the Quran in the city to share their melodious voice and the beautiful message of the Quran with media and public. Accompany the event with a Quran exhibit)

  18. “Interfaith Fasting Day” (Engage Jews, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and other faith leaders and groups to celebrate the fasting tradition among all faiths. End with a community Iftar)

Creating and pitching a “newsworthy” Ramadan story requires significant planning and legwork, but it’s all worth it.

Let the world see the beauty of your faith and culture. Let everyone experience it! What’s there to hide?

Source: www.SoundVision.com

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Interview with Taha Ghayyur: Leadership in Action!

Taha_MF2011

By Seema Khan at ISNA Lanterns

When sitting across Taha Ghayyur, you would never be able to guess that beneath his humble and confident exterior lives a dynamic combination of creativity and intelligence. Taha personifies the new generation of young Muslims who have made their mark as professionals, and continue to make a difference for Muslims living in Canada.

His teenage years are of a typical young Muslim in Canada navigating their way toward a confident identity that is rooted in Canadian values and faithful to their religious traditions. What he took away from his life experiences laid the foundations for his ambition. After graduating from the University of Toronto in Religious Studies and Marketing, Taha embarked on an information technology career during the booming “dot com” era, which paved the way for his future work with the Muslim community.

Taha Ghayyur’s resume shows his incredible talents and accomplishments. If you’re a Muslim living in the GTA, it’s highly likely you have been impacted or influenced by some of Taha’s impressive work. He’s been a chairperson for MuslimFest, an annual festival showcasing Muslim art and commerce, helping set precedence for such a gathering in the GTA. He has engaged the Muslim community through an online weekly publication, of which he was the founding editor. Since 1999, the publication has sought to inspire and advise youth around the world on contemporary lifestyle issues with Islamic literature.

But Taha’s career truly took off in 2005, when he accepted the position of Development Manager with Sound Vision (www.SoundVision.com), a pioneering Islamic media organization in North America. Since then, he has also been the Managing Editor of the company website and online newsletters. He is involved with production of the world renowned Adam’s World videos, a flagship Sound Vision production for children.

On top of all this, Taha serves as a volunteer on the board of DawaNet, a powerhouse not-for-profit organization in Canada focusing on Muslim empowerment, engagement, and education. DawaNet is responsible for the Torontomuslims.com portal, the Understanding Islam Academy, MuslimFest, MY Voice and the Canada Zakat project.

Taha is an incredibly talented young man, a well-known writer, public speaker, community organizer and marketing consultant. When I sat down in conversation with him, Taha explained his vision of combining creativity and spirituality. “The end goal has always been to be involved in making Islam accessible, affordable and socially relevant at a local, national and international level,” he said.

When asked what kind of advice he would give to Muslim youth seeking employment and career direction, Taha immediately noted that, “Young people can bring about incredible changes by being more vibrant and engaged. We need to have positive minds, and be purpose-driven to serve the wider community in a variety of ways and professions. They need a holistic attitude to Islam and to the society they are living in. One should not be reactionary and quit work to focus just on Islamic work but rather create a balance between being a professional and a dedicated volunteer. ” He explained that in the times of the Prophet (S.A.W.), most of the companions specialised in serving all areas of society while very few specialised in Islamic knowledge. “Be servants first and then leaders,” said Taha, “roll up your sleeves for work and Allah will grow you in ways that you can’t imagine. Acknowledge that we need specialists, writers, counsellors, project managers. Professionals who are willing to give back to the community as volunteers.”

Taha has researched and is well informed on the future growth and potential of the Muslim demographics in Canada. “As our population in Canada grows, our leaders, institutions, and thinkers need to focus on youth engagement, collaborative leadership, better social services, civic engagement and creative Dawah efforts,” Taha advised. “We also need to build vibrant institutions for Islamic presence, rather than building a personal brand and following.”

Taha has proven to be a strong leader without a boisterous exterior. After an incredible conversation with someone who has given so much to our community, I walked away feeling humbled to the fact that Taha Ghayyur has been the backbone of many leading Muslim ventures. Yet he remains unnoticed, only because the focus of his work has always been for his community, and never for himself.

Being a father of three young children, Taha hopes that the next generation of Canadian Muslims will contribute even more to Islam and Canada. He has given practical meaning to his ideals for having a purpose-driven career and by giving back to his community in creative ways.

Published in ISNA Lanterns (March 2014)

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The Sharia I Live…

By Taha Ghayyur

We have all seen the word Sharia written in red-blood-dripping-fonts accompanied by an image of clouds of smoke emanating from a half destroyed building.

We are witnessing anti-Sharia protests across the United States fueled by emotional chants demanding a ban on “draconian laws” creeping into our country. Continue reading

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Interview- MuslimFest Exceeds Expectations of Founders, Critics (Muslim Link Story- Jun. 2010)

As MuslimFest, Canada’s largest Muslim summer festival, gets ready to kick off on July 31st at the Mississauga Living Arts Centre, the Muslim Link sat down with Taha Ghayyur, one of the founders and organizers of the two-day art and cultural festival, to get his thoughts on the need for such event and his hopes for the future of Muslim artistes in North America.

What prompted the creation of MuslimFest?

It was in the summer of 2003 that a group of concerned people, including Muslim artists like Dawud Wharnsby Ali, community leaders like Abdul Malik Mujahid the President of Sound Vision, teachers, and other creative individuals from DawaNet gathered to discuss the most effective ways of connecting with our neighbours, communicating the message of Islam in creative fashion, and engaging Muslim youth.

Moreover, a strong need was felt to offer an alternative to the mainstream entertainment industry so Muslim youth and families could enjoy artistic performances and shows that are safe and grounded in Islamic ethics. Continue reading

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Digital Dilemmas What Wireless Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know

By Taha Ghayyur
High-speed communication, personal security, accessibility, and information management are the main reasons users cite for owning cell phones, PDAs, and wireless Internet. We experience our share of the “wireless situation” on a daily basis. These wireless waves have engulfed our social landscape by a storm, revolutionizing our communication in the past decade in ways that baffle a social scientist’s imagination.iPhones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) such as Blackberry and HTC, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi hotspots are some of the latest wireless technologies that have gripped the young and old by the throat in the developed and developing countries alike.
Digital devices are our devoted companions: They accompany us at work, travel with us on commuter trains, ride with us on country roads, and attend our meetings, prayers, and even our washroom trips. Continue reading

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Interview- In Search of Muslims to Tell Their Stories (Globe and Mail Story- Feb. 2010)

By Amira Elghawaby

Aminata Diallo, the fictional protagonist in Lawrence Hill’s bestselling novel The Book of Negroes, realizes early on that she had better cling to the details of her bondage so that she can later recount what she endures. “See, and remember,” she tells herself as her painful journey into slavery begins.

Years later, she fulfills her vision, becoming a djeji, or storyteller, sharing details of her life with people of myriad backgrounds and persuasions. Her story humanizes her to those who would otherwise view her as either a threat or a victim. Continue reading

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Interview- Tradition or Science: Muslims Debate Official Start of Ramadan (Metro Story- Aug. 2009)

Published on August 20, 2009

It is known as the pre-Ramadan headache. But, for Muslims in Toronto, the ailment has nothing to do with anxiety around fasting from sunrise to sunset in the coming days.

Instead, it is caused by confusion that every year precedes the month of fasting, prayer and self-reflection.

Simply trying to answer the question: When does the month officially start?

“It’s a not an easy question to answer,” said Taha Ghayyur, the coordinator of the Muslim information portal Torontomuslims .com, which attempts to sort out the messy details for community members on its website.

“This year it is pretty much between Friday or Saturday … and for some in Toronto, it could also be Sunday,” he said.

Traditionally, Muslims in Toronto have literally looked to the skies on the eve of Ramadan — the month the Quran was revealed — for signs of the new moon to determine when the holy month begins. A second group, mostly from the Arab world, used global moon sighting, and start fasting when Muslims in Saudi Arabia do.

But in recent years, scholars in North America introduced a new idea to use scientific astronomical calculations to predetermine the first day of Ramadan. When introduced in 2006 by the Fiqh Council of North America, an organization that makes legal opinions on Islam, it was meant to unify the community.
Instead, it ended up doing the opposite.

“It has added to the confusion,” said Ghayyur. “Since most people see all three as Islamically correct, now people have too many options in a way.”

Many in the community say within the issue of moon sighting is a deeper debate. A debate between the those trying to find ways to modernize Islamic traditions within the bounds of Islam, and those struggling to hold fast on to tradition.

Original Story Published on Metro News
Copyright Free Daily News Group Inc.

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