Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem
Alhamdulillaah, a few months back, I successfully wrapped-up the audio recording & production project for the Texas Dawah Convention 2007. This was clearly one of the most ambitious projects in which I’ve been involved in my life, especially given the degree of responsibility I was given and the amount of work I had to do.
The project for me was a great learning experience on numerous fronts – management, business, technology, work ethic, and team work are amongst a few of them. If it weren’t for the great support I received from my partner & friend (I’ll only mention him if he wants me to – knowing him, he probably would prefer I don’t by default), then the work would have never happened and would have ended-up a terrible flop.
Please read on if you’re interested in knowing the history of how I became involved with this project, how it was executed, some of the challenges I faced during it, and finally, and a part of which I am very proud, how I completed almost exclusively using free (as in freedom) software, particular that which comes with Fedora.
I have long had a passion for audio – be it with regards to editing, recording, production, or even creation. And, given my other passion for Islamic education, it should come as no surprise that I like to work on recording, producing, and making-available quality Islamic recordings for the benefit of everyone. Thus, ever since I first attended the Texas Dawah Convention, I knew that I wanted to be involved, at least with the audio aspect. This desire became even stronger as the Convention has had some troubles make the recordings from the previous years widely available.
The Convention itself is outstanding, and I strongly encourage everyone to attend it if you can – whether or not you are Muslim, it provides an excellent place where someone can learn about the proper understanding of Islam free from extremism, misguidance, and distortion. Naturally, those are based on my own opinions, and everyone is entitled to their own about whatever they like, I suppose…regardless, it is held every year in late December. Details can usually be found on their website as Winter approaches.
Back to the point, I had a golden opportunity to pursue the desire to become more involved with the Convention itself. It just so happened that Shaykh Waleed Basyouni, the director of the Texas Dawah Convention, was holding an AlMaghrib Institute seminar (Rays of Faith) in Columbus, Ohio (Qabeelat Hayl). As I was the coordinator for the class, I was blessed with extra time with the shaykh, so I approached him with a bold proposal. Being that he was the director of the Texas Dawah Convention, I proposed to him to hand over audio recording & production entirely to me for the then upcoming convention. I knew it was more-or-less a shot in the dark, but he respectfully listened to me in full, giving me more than a generous portion of his time given that he was heading back home soon afterward.
Pleasantly enough, and after a series of e-mails & phone conversations, Shaykh Waleed took me up on my proposal, which I was wisely discussing as a prospect with a close friend & future partner the whole time. As such, we were mentally prepared with the idea that we’d have actual work to do during the convention.
As much as one prepares for a task, it’s amazing how many aspects can still come up and leave one shaken and struggling to stay standing. To be honest, it is in management of this kind – preparing for the logistics of something hands-on – that I tend to be rather weak. Alhamdulillaah, my friend and business partner came to the rescue and prepared, more or less, the entire plan for how the work needed to be broken-up, divided, and thus organized so that it could be managed in a reasonable way. Without his sheets, plans, and equipment labeling, the task would have been an operational nightmare.
Part of our charter for the audio work was to purchase a variety of recording equipment, most of which would be used for the many coming years, in shaaʾ Allaah. Consequently, once again, my friend showcased his business prowess, and was able to secure the best pricing for the majority of the equipment and supplies we needed. The biggest challenge here was my procrastination and that of others, through miscommunication, which resulted in us spending way more money than necessary for some basic items (e.g., CDs, labels, and some equipment).
Once we got to the site, we had very little time really to spend with the volunteers we’d be given to be our runners. It was somewhat of a challenge to divide the work up amongst them – we had 8 total (a 9th came in midway through the convention, alhamdulillaah). Each had their own level of skills, be it technical or otherwise, that we had to balance and find out. What was most troubling to me was that, despite the sheer amount of work involved, frequently the volunteers found themselves without anything to do simply because we didn’t know how best to divide up the work. Again, and I will continue pointing this out through the post, my partner-friend really took to managing the volunteers and ensuring they were kept reasonably busy with productive things while also ensuring they weren’t overworked and could attend the parts of the convention their really wanted to.
To their credit, the volunteers, in general, all performed outstandingly, maa shaaʾ Allaah walhamdulillaah. Given that there were three straight days of seminars, sometimes 6 at the same time, the fact that we had only a few really major mistakes (including one lecture that was a complete write off, unfortunately) is really a testament to their hard work and willingness to pull through some tough schedules we’d made for them. Jazaakum Allaahu khayr!
While this wraps-up the general procedure for everything, I have intentionally left the technical side out as I am going to focus on that in a dedicated post, including possibly mentioning a near disaster that was narrowly avoided due to the Mercy of Allaah in answering my supplications. See you then!