By Abdullah Hamid Ali and Naureen Aqueel – Freelance writers
“Bridging the gap between internationally renowned Islamic speakers and Pakistani audiences.” This is the introduction on LiveDeen’s Facebook fanpage. Faced with Pakistan’s unstable security situation and the desire among its English-speaking class to learn their Deen from scholars to whom they feel closer on an intellectual and linguistic level, a group of seven motivated men came up with just the solution: LiveDeen!
LiveDeen events bring in international Islamic scholars and their expertise via video conferencing, allowing audiences to interact with the speakers. “The world is becoming fast-paced and people, especially the youth, want to see dynamism and diversity in events,” explains Brother Nouman Idrees Sheikh, head of the LiveDeen team and one of its founding members. “For this reason, we decided that one-way lectures should be supplemented by interactive group activities. Another advantage is that attendees also get to ‘know one another’, and can take something practical from what they have learnt.”
“The online lecture is complimented by a live workshop conducted by a trainer stationed at the venue. This not only enhances learning and retention, but also keeps the participants engaged throughout the session.”
The team operates with modest technological logistics, which include a video conferencing system with a high definition camera (e.g., Polycom), a projector of minimum 4000 lumens, a screen, a sound system and dedicated 1MB connectivity. For the international station, they require a laptop or a PC with small HD camera and normal connectivity of 1MB.
Since August, 2011, the team has so far had seven events in Karachi. Thanks to them, Pakistani audiences have benefitted from international speakers from Qatar and Saudi Arabia as well as the United States of America, Portugal and the United Kingdom. Scholars, who have reached out to Pakistanis via LiveDeen events, include: Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Phillips, Sheikh Abdur Raheem Green, Sheikh Wisam Shareiff, Imam Kareem Abu Zaed, Sheikh Abu Abdissalam, Adnan Rashid, and Ustadh Noman Ali Khan.
“We select scholars and speakers, who are involved in the call to Islam internationally and follow the Quran and Sunnah without any innovation in Deen,” states Brother Nouman.
The LiveDeen team consists of seven core members: Abdul Aleem, Asim Ismail, Majid Mirza, Kashif Naseem, Nouman Idrees, Abul Lateef Motan and Shahnawaz Siddiqui, along with twelve volunteer brothers. They also have a sisters’ wing, which currently comprises eleven sisters.
Initially, the founding members helped set up the initiative financially and mutually decided that all profits would be ploughed back into the project, while any shortfalls would be shared among the team members. “Alhumdulillah, we – with the help of our participants – have been able to cover the expenses through ticket-selling and occasional help from the sponsors.”
In the future, LiveDeen has plans to have live lectures by international speakers. Although arranging in-person events can be an arduous task, especially with today’s travel restrictions, LiveDeen recognizes the value of having in-person events whenever possible to increase audience engagement. For this reason they held their first annual exclusive in which speakers flew to Karachi from outside the country. The event was the first of its kind with a whole day of knowledge, wisdom and close interaction with world renowned speakers. Noman Idrees says about the event: “By the help of Allah, and the efforts of the team members and volunteers, this event was a major accomplishment for LiveDeen.”
So far, LiveDeen has received an encouraging response from its participants. A young man, who has attended all of LiveDeen’s lectureshops, had this to say: “I believe LiveDeen has come up at a very appropriate time, when misconceptions about our religion are breeding. Alhumdulillah, I think LiveDeen is very efficiently tackling those for me and is providing for all of us youth a platform where we can learn how beautiful and simple our religion is. Alhumdulillah, each lectureshop is a life changing experience and a charge-up to stay on track and work for our Deen.”
LiveDeen invites others to join them as volunteers in the following capacity: Marketing & PR, Creative Design, IT & Website, Event Logistics, Event Volunteers and Social Media. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many lecture-shops of LiveDeen have been transcribed and published by Hiba. They can be accessed online at www.hibamagazine.com