[Interview] Founder of RainDrop on what inspired him to transform Al-Ghazali’s works into animated videos
Most if not all of us strive to attain meaning and contentment in our lives.
Yet in the fast paced society we live in, we can find ourselves faced with many distractions in our pursuit of spiritual fulfilment. Do you ever find yourself wanting to acquire some knowledge or inspiration, but the books and texts you dig into are too complex or confusing to understand? If like me, you are an avid seeker of knowledge, but have had this dilemma, let me tell you about RainDrop.
RainDrop creates short, simple, animated videos of Imam Al Ghazali’s key works. The founder of RainDrop aims to inspire others to seek useful knowledge and increase their closeness to God. He says that is what Al Ghazali calls the path to spiritual happiness emphasized by the title of his book “The Alchemy of Happiness”.
He aims to do this through easy-to-understand media that appeals to people of all faiths and walks of life. What’s more, Al Ghazali’s work personally transformed his view on religion, spiritual happiness, and knowing God, and this inspired him to start RainDrop.
I talk with its founder on the importance of a project like this, why Ghazali’s works are relevant today, and how he overcomes the challenge of turning complex texts into simple animated videos.
Why did you choose to turn Imam Al Ghazali’s works into animated videos? What is it about him you find important or inspirational?
I have been a seeker of knowledge every since my late teenage years when I started learning about God. I only discovered Ghazali’s work many years after starting down the path and I was struck by the powerful simplicity in his writings.
However, when I learned of his masterpiece, the Revival of Religious Sciences, I was intimidated by its over 1,000 pages. Ghazali’s works are very relevant in today’s environment where sectarianism is on the rise. I wanted to find a way to share his message of spiritual happiness with the world and knowing how short the average attention span is lead to the idea of short, animated videos.
What is the process of creating an animated video?
The process is quite simple: read the book, summarize the book, turn the summary into a script, build a storyboard from the script, share the script/storyboard with people who have no knowledge of the topic, incorporate their feedback, send to the animator and voiceover artist, and voila.
“As a disciple myself, I had to first understand the work anew, then explain it to people who are unfamiliar with it.”
Tell us about your educational/professional background. How has this helped you in starting Raindrop Academy?
I believe my weakness and deficiency in traditional Islamic education was turned into a strength through RainDrop. In reality, the purpose of RainDrop is to introduce such powerful and inspirational works to the layperson – those without formal training. As a disciple myself, I had to first understand the work anew, then explain it to people who are unfamiliar with it.
In reflection, I believe my educational background in engineering helped me create structure and my MBA and professional experience gave me the visualization and verbal skills needed to create the short, simple videos.
Al Ghazalis’ work may appear complex or intimidating. How do you overcome this challenge and turn his works into a short and simple video everyone can understand?
There is no simple answer to this – I still struggle with this daily and with each new video we create. What helps is using the insight of my family and friends to hone in on the most important topics and leave out a lot of more complex concepts. The videos are meant to serve as a taste of what Ghazali has to offer. The hope is that people who watch them will be inspired to dig deeper and read his books.
“The videos are meant to serve as a taste of what Ghazali has to offer. The hope is that people who watch them will be inspired to dig deeper.”
To our readers who are new to Al Ghazali, can you recommend any works or books to read?
I would suggest the following order:
1) On Knowing Yourself, which was the source of RainDrop’s first video.
4) the books of the Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya), which is what RainDrop is now working on, the first being On Marvels of the Heart (Parts 1 & 2) and next On Disciplining the Soul, and so on.
Do your videos appeal to people of all faiths and if yes, why?
My intention has always been for people of all faiths to gain knowledge from these videos. People who watch the videos will notice that the concepts are not strictly “Islamic”, they are Divine concepts that apply to all humanity, the most fundamental one being: Elevate yourself in rank by increasing knowledge and remembrance of God. These are the same fundamental teachings of other religions and it needs to be emphasized.
The central message that the Prophet Mohammed delivered was one of purification of the Heart to attain spiritual happiness. This is the same message that was delivered by the Prophets that came before him.
“People who watch the videos will notice that they are divine concepts that apply to all humanity.”
How can we support RainDrop and where can we find your works?
There are two ways to support RainDrop:
- help us create more videos by donating to RainDrop. RainDrop is a non-profit and all funds will be used to create more videos. Each video costs around $1,500. Donate using PayPal: FundRainDrop@gmail.com
- Help spread the word by sharing, liking, commenting and the videos and content.
Last but not least what do you think of Sufi Comics?
Sufi comics delivers short and powerful messages relating to Islam and the core beliefs.
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Read our previous interviews with creative artists here