Abdel-Minem and Jenan, young parents from New York City decided that instead of sending out a registry for their newborn baby, Suha, they would show gratitude to Allah for what He has already given them. The parents decided to build a mosque for the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Abdel-Minem and Jenan did so to not only benefit the refugee community, but with the intention that every prayer performed, every letter recited, and every tear dropped from a tender heart in the mosque would be a source of reward for their Baby Suha.
To build Baby Suha’s mosque they started a crowdfunding campaign on LaunchGood and quickly won over thousands of hearts. Find out below, how Abdel-Minem raised 3 times his initial goal for the Baby Suha Builds a Masjid campaign.
How did the competition of GivingTuesday affect your crowdfunding strategy?
In the name of Allah, the Exceptionally and Eternally Merciful,
The timing of our campaign was serendipitous in that the GivingTuesday competition began within our first week. We had gained some traction for our campaign among family and friends, but GivingTuesday really helped propel our efforts. The idea that a single dollar donation could indirectly turn into another two thousand being donated helped us convince donors that their contributions would have more of an impact than usual. Maximizing impact also helped us convince our friends with large followings to share the campaign with their networks. The competition also created a sense of urgency, as we made it a point to let our donors know that they could donate any amount now and add to it later if they wanted.
What advice would you give to campaign creators hoping to win?
I would say that GivingTuesday is one of the few days where quantity equals quality. Shift your marketing focus to high-yielding individuals who will share the campaign with people who will want to contribute any amount they can. I’m not sure what we did differently than other campaigns, but perhaps it was due to the relevance to a cause that was being discussed widely in public discourse (the Rohingya crisis — though sadly, we weren’t ultimately able to follow through for logistical reasons), coupled with the highly emphasized and ubiquitous virtue of building a mosque.
If a cause is more specific, a good strategy might be to find a niche audience to share the cause with, mobilizing them to reach out to their networks of individuals with similar values.
What impact did the prize money have on building the masjid?
The prize money was about 25 percent of our original financial goal, allowing us to then aim higher and raise that goal.
We ended up raising three times our initial objective!
It propelled our momentum and helped us overcome the challenge of complacency or having timid aspirations.
Any updates you have on the masjid a year later?
The masjid is slated to be completed by the end of the year — inshaAllah. The foundation has been laid, and the pillars and walls are all up. I personally never thought we would come so far so fast! Late last year, the government in Bangladesh began to impose restrictions on any buildings constructed in the refugee areas with the ultimate objective of being able to demolish and remove anything built easily on command. This made it a lot more difficult for us to put the money we raised to good use. We wanted to make sure that what we built was going to have a lasting impact wherever we built it. Because the Rohingya cause was so dear to our hearts, I began to look frantically for other options in areas where a lot of the refugees were fleeing to such as Malaysia and India, but in either case, building a mosque would require a lot more funds than we raised.
Two of my friends were in touch with some brothers in Haiti who were working hard to establish a strong Muslim presence through grassroots dawah and social programs. Their organization operates several masajid as well as an orphanage, and they do a lot of social relief work in various cities across Haiti. I was particularly impressed because these brothers were native Haitians who knew the people and the culture better than any foreign dawah team would, and they were showing results with up to ten new converts every month! I was still hesitant to build a mosque in a land with so few Muslims, but when I saw the conditions and environment in Haiti for myself, I realized that there was great potential for Islam, rooted in their complete lack of exposure to it. My hope is that as their exposure increases, so will their curiosity, and ultimately their acceptance — with the help of Allah.
How is Baby Suha now?
Suha is growing and learning every day alhamdulillah. She’s got sweet strawberry lips, and eyes like chocolate chips. With every smile, she teaches us the true meaning of “comfort of the eyes,” and with every giggle, she repeatedly redefines every word in the dictionary that I could use to describe her. This is all by the grace of Allah, and I have no choice but to admit that. Raising a child is the single most difficult thing we’ve ever had to do, and part of that is the challenge of showing gratitude to Allah that is commensurate with the great blessing that He has bestowed upon us. This can obviously never be achieved in full, but the lingering feeling of not deserving something so beautiful looms over us every time we do anything prove ourselves unworthy of it.
“Every prayer performed, every letter recited, and every tear dropped from a tender heart in the mosque would be a source of reward for our Baby Suha”
As Suha is beginning to take note of and imitate our mindless habits, we hope to at least provide for her a foundation of faith and God-cognizance to stand on. They say it takes a village to raise a child, so we hope that our community of heroes and believers can make up for our shortcomings as parents.
We tested out GivingTuesday on LaunchGood for the first time in 2017. 3 prizes were given to top campaign creators. The response was huge; thousands of people rallied around small campaigns, giving many boosts up to 3 times their original goal. Campaigns did not just receive extra funds, but mass sharing resulted in greater awareness for their inspiring causes.
This year, between 12am EST and 11:59pm EST on November 29th, we’ll be giving away prizes, all throughout the day! Read all about it here.
Ameera Aslam manages the blog at LaunchGood. She is passionate about telling stories about incredible Muslims around the world and loves working with her sincere and passionate colleagues. Outside of LaunchGood, she is an award-winning poet and a mountain lover. You can buy her book at www.desiringlightbook.com.