One of the latest internet celebrities is Baba Ali who with several colleagues founded Ummah Films, a videoblog. Zahed Amanullah did an interview with him for Alt.Muslim.com. Alt.Muslim presents Baba Ali as:
An unlikely internet celebrity, Baba Ali is on a mission to provide thought provoking, lighthearted entertainment to young Muslims around the world. We find out what makes him tick.
By Zahed Amanullah, June 13, 2007
How did I get here?
If you’ve frequented Islamic websites and blogs over the past year, especially those geared towards youth, you may have come across links to videos of a close cropped young American Muslim speaking feverishly and comically into a webcam about the anomalies and quirks of Muslim life in the West. More accurately, if you haven’t seen the young man in question, it would be something of a minor miracle. Since mid-2006, Californian Baba Ali has produced a series of 7-10 minute video clips of himself, edited in rapid fire soundbites, produced in association with a like-minded group of young Muslim filmmakers calling themselves Ummah Films. Skirting fine lines between (near) preachiness, offbeat humour, self-deprecation, and sincere earnestness, Ali’s “The Reminder” series of videos has struck a chord with countless Muslim youth around the world facing the same questions he poses regarding marriage, extremism, and the norms of Islamic behaviour – in addition to his own anecdotes (such as the story of his converting to Islam). In the space of a year, he has arguably become the Muslim world’s first bonafide Internet celebrity (erm, besides Mahir and scary people with knives). Normally, producing video weblogs – or vlogs – would be seen as inconsequential in the age of the millions of contributions to MySpace and YouTube (even more so when some of the more popular ones turn out to be frauds). And for many over 30 or non-native English speakers, Ali’s hyperkinetic delivery and youth-oriented message might struggle to make an impression. But to paraphrase an Elvis record, millions of fans (the ones who have viewed his collective episodes so far over two “seasons”) can’t be wrong. A recent visit by Ali to the UK resulted in overflowing and sold out crowds at University College London, where he was treated like a rock star. His videos have been translated into a host of different languages, including Russian, French, Indonesian, German, and Dutch. Ali finds himself at a loss to explain his sudden popularity, but is keen to make the best of it, especially for the kids – his “weakness.” altmuslim’s Zahed Amanullah recently spoke to Ali, who told us about his stand-up comedy attempt, e-mail conversions, and why politics is part of the problem.
You can read more of the interview with him at Alt.Muslim or look at Ummah Films for his and others’ films. Enjoy already an example here (and yes, for my Dutch audience….it has Dutch subtitles just as we like it….)!