Notes on Titles, Audiences & Marketing Strategies
You’ve been studied, stalked, represented as an avatar, and contacted by us through the plethora of emails that flood your inbox every day. Even your Facebook homepage never fails to carry mentions of our name. You’ve been mesmerized by our stunningly-designed flyers and, perhaps at times, you were asked to place these flyers as your Facebook profile picture. No, we are not one group under the penname, “Obaid”—we are a marketing squad, working to “Bring AlMaghrib Institute to Minnesota.” You are our audience.
By now, I’m sure you’re well acquainted with who we are and what we do; so here’s a little secret: My associates and I often embed ourselves in social gatherings for the sole purpose of publicizing AlMaghrib Institute. Call us desperate, but it’s true.
Yes, it is a clandestine marketing strategy; yes, our social reputations—for the most part—are in jeopardy (assuming we had social reputations to begin with); and yes, we conceal no embarrassment when our plots are exposed. Because in all honestly, the outcome of this unusually-sneaky-advertising-strategy has proven effective for our cause. We have plenty to learn from the public crowd. Plenty.
But our findings are not always pretty…
I recall this incident from a few weeks ago, during an encounter with a few of my college friends. Our chatter plowed through the subjects of school, summer vacation, jobs, girly stuff—you know, the typical—until I had casually maneuvered the conversation in the direction I wanted; when the perfect opportunity had come, I asked, “So, what do you guys think about AlMaghrib?”
Silence. It was like all time had stopped.
Thoughts poised in a cloud of optimism, I sat eagerly in my seat, my ears awaiting an answer. Then, moments later…
“You mean the country?”
*Gasp*…I knew it. Pushing my disappointment aside, I confronted the reality that people officially think I’m an over-nationalistic Moroccan zealot. Should I blame them? Whoever heard of an Islamic institution by the name of an Arab country, anyway?
No no, we can’t blame the crowd. The blame falls on our shoulders, as we alone are responsible for dismantling all misconceptions from our audience’s minds—beginning with the title, “AlMaghrib Institute.” The “AlMaghrib effort” has no attachments to nationalism, tribalism, or anything of that sort—Astaghfurallah—If so, you would have seen my associates and I dressed in hooded djellabas, with red and green flags tattoos on our foreheads, speaking in mixes of Berber, Arabic and French, while devouring our second bowl of couscous…
Not a pretty sight.
So why is it called “AlMaghrib” Institute? How about a response from the founder, Sh. Muhammad AlShareef, himself:
A lot of people ask me this question, “Why did you choose the name AlMaghrib? Is it like the Maghrib prayer or something?” And I said “No.” AlMaghrib comes from the word Gharb, which means the West. And it was always this dream that I had, that just like there was a legacy of great Islamic scholarship in Spain and AlMaghrib Al-Arabi in North Africa, that indeed, if we can change things around with all the tools that we have, that we can have a great Islamic scholarship legacy, even in the West—AlMaghrib Institute.
So for all those engulfed in their own assumptions, rest assured: AlMaghrib Institute is not a nationalistic Moroccan cult. Rather, it is the largest Islamic Institution in the Western World, serving over 35,000 students and growing. Become a student of ‘Ilm and drop the misconceptions. It’s for your own personal benefit, bi’ithnillah.
PS: This piece was in no way intended to offend Moroccans! My beloved brothers and sisters from Morocco–You’re all invited to join our effort as well :-)