The Arabic letters of the opening phrase of the Quran add up to the numerical value of 786. Muslims on the Indian subcontinent where the filmmaker comes from use 786 as an abbreviation for this phrase ‘bism illāh ir-raḥmān ir-raḥīm’ (بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم) which means “In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful”. On the streets of Bombay or New Delhi, you know an auto-rickshaw is Muslim owned or operated if it has the numbers 786 emblazoned on it. And therefore, for good luck and plentiful good karma, we have decided to call our Islam focused, global empowerment program, Project 786.
Using A SINNER IN MECCA, Project 786 is a worldwide Outreach, Dialogue and Measurable Change Project aimed at significantly impacting and changing contemporary discourse about Islam, today the worlds fastest growing and most contested religion.
Inherent to the project is our belief and indeed our experience that film can be the most powerful agent of real grassroots social change.
We will use A SINNER IN MECCA (and if needed, our previous film A JIHAD FOR LOVE) as an active tool of documentable social change. Screening spaces will be turned into impassioned town halls. We will organize screenings and dialogue driven learning workshops worldwide with an added emphasis on Muslim capitals. We will draw on our significant experience with A JIHAD FOR LOVE and its very successful model built through its “Muslim Dialogue Project”. That project continues to be a major change agent within Muslim and non-Muslim communities around the world.
The remarkable underground network we built and nurtured with A JIHAD FOR LOVE, allowed us to reach places we never imagined. Screenings and discussion, healing and teaching groups were organized in countless and even unlikely cities ranging from Tehran to Riyadh, from Dhaka to Kuala Lumpur, from Jakarta to Dakar to Karachi and from Beirut to Cairo. Even today, DVD’s of that film continue to be distributed secretly on Muslim streets across the world. This underground filmic railroad will be critical to our success. Screened at the US Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security, the film even reached the highest levels of policy making. And most importantly, lives were saved.
To understand what we can do together, this document is a must-read. Click here to read. You can also download a PDF right here:
For Project 786, programs that include screenings, workshops including our “Islam-From its 7th to its 14th century” package and our unique “The Empowered Muslim Project” will be organized at college campuses and willing venues in receptive communities worldwide. For our college tour, we will draw on our successful model with our previous film, which was showcased in always packed dialogue driven screenings at more than a hundred North American college campuses and also colleges in India, in Pakistan and in many parts of Europe.
This film is unlike any other film on Islam. The religions ground-zero in Saudi Arabia stands exposed. The insidious Saudi project to export their cruel and puritanical version of Islam, called Wahabism to mosques and vast communities of Muslims globally continues to grow exponentially. Western governments, including the US have been slow to challenge Saudi Arabia’s non existent human rights record. The corrupt and secretive Saudi monarchy and its Wahabi clergy continue to brazenly flout all international norms on human rights. This is a country where public beheadings are routine. Project 786 is also our direct challenge to the repressive Saudi regime.
Twenty-first century Islam is in a regressive crisis, and this film goes to the core of that crisis. But amazingly at the same time, the Muslim world has one of the highest social media penetrations on the planet. We will tap extensively into our already successful presence within these networks to maximize our impact on the social web.
In a nutshell, Project 786 draws on our already impressive global track record. By supporting this project, you are backing a winner. Project 786 is a call to action and to engagement within your communities. It crosses platforms to be a catalyst for real change, using the power of documentary storytelling and the participatory nature of the social web. The dialogues we will together create will be challenging, controversial and even difficult. But their time has come.
As always, we are deeply invested in impacting the lives of LGBT Muslims, Muslim women and communities confronted by radical Islam worldwide.
The work we started and perfected with A JIHAD FOR LOVE is still unfinished. A SINNER IN MECCA takes us further and helps us continue this amazing work. We have worked hard for the past several years and now, together our work becomes easier because this film (and forthcoming book) provide us the exact tools we need.