Freelance writer and founder of ExtraordinaryMuslims.com
In today's age of social media, all of us are easily exposed to fake news and radical propaganda. Thus, there is a pressing need for content creators (including our future religious leaders - madrasah students) to master digital literacy and develop credible grounds-up counternarratives that facilitate critical thinking and dispel misinformation.
In May this year, Muis organised a 2-day Digital Literacy and Video Production workshop for 30 madrasah students. The students learnt how important it is to evaluate content online and to recognise the danger of disinformation.
They were also taught valuable skills on how to create high-quality and engaging videos that provide positive Islamic messaging online.
To put their skills to the test, each team was given the opportunity to compete in producing the best short video on the topics related to social cohesion, dangers of fake news and misuse of religious concepts. The videos were uploaded on LearnIslam.Sg's Facebook and YouTube, with the number of likes and shares considered as part of the judging criteria. The winning video would be played during Salam Singapore, a community festival that was held as an appreciation and celebration of the partnership between Muis and the community for the past 50 years.
The madrasah students produced such excellent videos that it was difficult for the judges to pick the winners. Producing videos is no mean feat, and the students were able to do so while balancing 2 sets of curricula, co-curricular activities and other personal commitments.
On the day of the prize giving ceremony, the students were ecstatic to be invited to meet Mufti Dr Mohamed Fatris Bakaram.
The winner of the grand prize of $1,500 was Madrasah Alsagoff Al-Arabiah.
Their video "Different Faiths, A Shared Respect" featured interviews with religious teachers and ordinary Singaporeans and showed how people with different religions can live in harmony in Singapore. It garnered more than 11,000 views and 300 shares in just 3 weeks.
Madrasah Aljunied Al-Islamiah won the second prize of $1000 with their video "Social Mixing Between Muslims and Non-Muslims in Singapore".
Through interviews with 6 millennials, they highlighted how religion is not a barrier to building strong and meaningful friendships.
The winner of the third prize of $500 was Madrasah Wak Tanjong Al-Islamiah.
They reclaimed the meaning of "Jihad" by relating the story of Salmah's jihad to get a new job to support her sick daughter.
So, can madrasah students make videos? Yes, for sure! And outstanding ones at that.