Let’s face it – after September 11, 2001, the depiction of Muslims around the world has been negative. Associations with terrorism, fanaticism, and hatred has been predominant. The common Muslim voice has been unheard.Omair Ali, 30, decided to change all of that in 2002. He founded MeccaOne Media, in an effort to provide a ‘voice of the everyday Muslim living in the West’. With a growing audience of Muslim and Non-Muslim listeners, MeccaOne has succeeded in gaining several notable firsts – including the first to broadcast a live Islamic call to prayer and first to provide Islamic podcasts on iTunes. Learn more about Omair and MeccaOne Media as we feature them in this week’s Non-Profit Spotlight.
About the non-profit
Today, Islam is said to be the fastest growing religion in the United States, with over a 1.3 billion Muslims worldwide. Nonetheless, Muslims have had little impact on American culture. In a secular society where the dominant faiths are Christianity and Judaism, American Muslims have yet to acquire a voice in public life. But their biggest problem is negative stereotyping, which equates Islam with terrorism and a fanaticism bent on destroying Western civilization. Little do we know that the average Muslim has never built a biological weapon, issued a “fatwa” or burned Uncle Sam in effigy.
MeccaOne Media fulfills a void in American Muslim media and provides a voice for the everyday Muslim living in the West. On Thursday, May 2, 2002, MeccaOne Radio began broadcasting on 90.5 FM KSJS in San Jose, California reaching 22,000 weekly Muslim and non-Muslim listeners. The positive response from their world-wide listeners was overwhelming. Future projects in the making include a satellite TV program and a comprehensive website on Islam catered to non-Muslims.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
I manage, design, develop and maintain the website as well as record, edit, and produce show content.
Most notable milestones
In 2002, MeccaOne radio was the first show in the USA to broadcast a live athaan (call to prayer).
In 2004 we held our first conference with world-renowned scholars and activists that attracted over 700 guests nationwide.
We were also one of the first Islamic Podcasts on iTunes.
What’s the niche?
MeccaOne is the only organization of its kind using Public Relations campaigns for Islam and Muslims.
What’s the biggest challenge?
Our biggest challenge is addressing misrepresentation of Islam by so called “apostates” “experts” and “Muslims,” which attract a disproportionately large amount of media attention. The truth is that Muslims have become, in the eyes of the media and political elite, a security threat and a convenient vehicle for exploitation and political opportunism. Our challenge is to shatter the theory that Muslims are a threat to the American way of life.
What’s in store for the future?
MeccaOne TV & Radio
– TV: launch a satellite TV program in North America
– Radio: Expand it’s coverage with more air time and more shows distributed to existing networks around the country. We are currently looking to purchase air-time spots in Sacramento, Chicago, and Virginia.
– Develop billboard, magazine, TV, and radio AD spots for our “Do You Know Islam?” PR campaign.
Further down the road we hope to have our own multi-cultural facility with it’s own recording studio, lecture hall, art gallery, and place of worship.
Best way to keep a competitive edge
MeccaOne has a thirst of technology and innovative ideas. We are always looking for creative ways to express our mission. Our staff attend technology workshops, research the latest web 2.0 trends and blogs, and make sure to stay connected with other like minded organizations and individuals.
Guiding principle in life
Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Yardstick of success
Feedback: emails, phone calls and one on one interaction with our listeners enable us to see how we are doing. We do also get the occasional “prayer” haters, but that is expected when telling the truth as it hurts sometimes.
Goal yet to be achieved
I know this may sound funny, but the website. I have been designing and redesigning the website since 2004. I must be on my fifth and hopefully last concept!
Best practical advice
Always have a plan. We hired a firm in 2005 to help us write a business plan. It keeps us on track with our goals and helps us reach important milestones without getting sidetracked.
Supportive words from a family member or friend on your venture
Here is one comment we got via email from one of our listeners: “May I say that the interviews and programs on this website are amazing, inspirational and very useful. I feel as though I’ve discovered a little treasure chest… ” – Maryam Ahmad
Our mentors are our teachers and sometimes guests on MeccaOne Radio. Some of them include Imam Suhaib Webb, Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Mumtaz ul-Haq, Shaykh Mukhtar Maghraoui, Shaykh Salek Sidinna, Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi, Shaykh Sulayman Mullah, and many more. They are all like flowers. Each are unique and emit radiant colors of the spectrum. Our goal is to take from each and go make some honey!
What motivated you to get started?
The events of 9/11 catapulted me in taking actions into my own hands. I was so perplexed at the fact that the media was pointing fingers at the hijackers religion – as if Islam teaches terrorism. This to me was the biggest lie in the universe. Islam teaches exactly the opposite. My goal was to do my part in educating others about normative Islam, the version that is practiced by 99.9% of the world’s Muslims.
Like best about what you do?
Everything. Everyday is a breath of fresh air. It is an opportunity to do something good in the world. MeccaOne helps me stay on track with my own spiritual struggle because I would hate to preach what I don’t practice.
Like least about what you do?
Nothing. “It’s all good,” as they say.
At age 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I don’t think I was ever asked that so I never thought of what to become! I know my mom wanted me to be an engineer, but I sucked in math big time. It took me a while to break the news to her.
What was your first job?
I worked at a family friends store, “San Jose Blue Jeans” for two weekends. I was 14.
Biggest pastime outside of work
Designing. Wait, is that considered work?
Person most interested in meeting
Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. He is what all Muslims strive to be like. He is the perfect teacher, the perfect leader, the perfect friend, the perfect father, the perfect husband, the perfect warrior, the perfect ruler, the perfect human being, and according to Michael Hart, the famous Jewish Author and Historian, the most influential man in history to walk the face of the earth.
He was also the most beautiful, the most balanced, the most patient, the most loving, the most merciful, the most courageous, the most spiritual, the most angelic, the most pure, the most eloquent, the most…everything of all the great qualities that can be found in a human, both internal and external.
I have traveled to where he currently rests in Medinah, and that feeling is indescribable. I hope and pray to meet him in the next life and drink from his hands. Ameen
Leader in business most interested in meeting
Jawed Karim. YouTube’s third co-founder, who also happens to be a Muslim.
Three interesting facts about yourself
- I can speak in front of a live audience in the thousands but am quiet in smaller gatherings.
- I look young for my age.
- I dream in 3D.
Three characteristics that describe you
– As answered by my wife.
Three greatest passions
Islam and beauty. I love anything to do with Islam and creativity.
“God is beautiful and loves beauty.”
– Prophet Muhammad, peace & blessings be upon him.
Who would you like to be contacted by?
We are looking for private funders or like-minded individuals or organizations to help us any way possible in achieving our mission to present Islam in it’s true light. MeccaOne also recognizes the cooperation of journalists, photographers and other media professionals, who, by informing about our activities, effectively help to transmit an objective and balanced view of Islam and its true core values.