by Theresa Corbin
Yesterday something awesome happened. A Launch Good campaign went live. Why does that matter? Well, it matters because this crowdfunding effort is bringing us Islamic emojis! Islamoji: “The Fun Muslim Pop Culture App With A Cause. Custom-designed emojis to express your unique self!”
The Islamoji app is the brainchild of Sakeena Rashid, Founder of Deeni Girl Media (DGM). Disheartened with the constant negative portrayals of Muslims in media, Sakeena started DGM as a way to allow Muslims to amplify their voices and share their authentic stories.
How can we express ourselves and each do our part to reclaim the Muslim narrative? The Solution: Islamoji
I have the great fortune to sit down (virtually) with Sakeena and pick her brain about the app, her passion for #stemgirls, and more:
islamwich: What inspired you to get into the emoji game and bring some Islamic flare to it?
Sakeena Rashid: Well, it kind of all started with the celebrity emoji craze about a year ago. You started seeing these famous stars coming out with their own emoji keyboards, and it made me think, if they can have one I wonder if a Muslim emoji keyboard could be created?
I started researching it, but at the same time thought if celebrities were doing it, of course I wouldn’t be able to afford to create an app like that. I continued my research anyway and discovered that it was feasible. I had never created an app before, and I was determined to learn everything I could about the process.
I bought app courses, watched webinars, joined developer groups and read dozens of case studies until I felt like I had a solid roadmap in front of me, where I knew I could not just start this project, but finish it.
islamwich: With the publishing company you hope to grow from this, what kind of works do you hope to publish? Muslim memoirs? fiction? guides?
Sakeena Rashid: All of the above and more. Years ago I wrote down the types of books that I wanted to publish under DGM. Today, most of those titles still have not been published by Muslim authors. We would love to bring Muslim fiction to center stage.
There is room for business books, how-to guides and myrid of non-fiction titles need to be written. And of course memoirs have to be apart of that. There are so many amazing Muslims that have these enchanting stories that just need to be told.
We also have a strong passion for children’s books, and more Muslim authors are gravitating towards that genre. So we hope to offer a variety of titles that our community can enjoy and benefit from.
islamwich: When did you get into content development?
Sakeena Rashid: Probably about 11 years ago. I started writing freelance articles, had a few articles published and then I began blogging. Later on I self-published The Ultimate Guide to Hijab Style and Fashion. I sold it as an ebook on Amazon, and received very positive reviews and media mentions.
I’ve since taken the ebook down to update it and prepare it for print. I’ve written a lot for myself, lots of poetry and more recently an non-fiction project that chronicles dealing with death and dying from a Muslim’s perspective.
islamwich: It is so important for our girls, Muslim and non-Muslim, to feel confident to get into STEM careers? When and why did you become an advocate of this?
Sakeena Rashid: I guess it all started with my own daughter, she has always wanted to become a doctor. When she was 5 years old for career day, she dressed up as a doctor. She’s now 12 and earlier this year, once again she’s having me buy her a stethoscope and doctor bag for career day.
So, I’ve always had to stress to her the importance of science and math if she’s going to fulfill that dream. Alhumdulilah she’s on honor roll so I must have done something right, but she’s just very driven on her own. She loves to see that A on her paper, and when I work with her on her science projects it seems like she tries harder. So I think that’s an important takeaway for parents, when we’re able to create something with them, it means more to our kids.
STEM for girls is something that’s so important and I believe it can really be limitless as to where it can take youth in the future. I want to be part of that growth within our community and I hope that DGM will be able to contribute to that by offering fun STEM workshops and publications for our girls.
islamwich: Are you a heritage Muslim or a convert to Islam?
Sakeena Rashid: I was born Muslim. My parents both converted to Islam as teens (separately), got married and had seven children. My mom and father both had one or two other relatives who converted around the same time. So I grew up with this huge network of Muslim cousins on both sides of the family -which was awesome.
That was back when people had larger families. My Muslim aunts and uncles had six and seven children each, so there was no shortage of Muslim familial identity when I was coming up.
islamwich: Where are you from? (I hate it when people ask me this, so I’m sorry. But I know the audience will be curious)
Sakeena Rashid: I was born and raised in Michigan as was my mother. My father was born in Ohio and both sets of grand-parents and great-grand-parents were born in the U.S. as well.
My ethnicity is African American. 🙂
islamwich: How much will the app cost? Will it be available for android as well?
Sakeena Rashid: The app will be $1.99, and include 200+ Muslim emojis, GIFs, and stickers. And yes, we do plan to release an Android version within a few months of the launch of the iPhone/iOS version. The Islamoji app will be available worldwide in the App Store in a few weeks insha’Allah, but people can pre-order now through our campaign www.launchgood.com/islamoji
Do yourself a favor and check out the Launch Good campaign and contribute to this fun app with a cause.
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