Shafaqna Interviews Brother Ahmed Badri

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SHAFAQNA – We had the pleasure of interviewing brother Ahmed Badri who is an editor/producer for Safeer TV regarding his new show All About Men and the thought surrounding its inception. The show is ongoing and available on YouTube. On the rather creative set, brother Ahmed enters into conversation with Sayyid Hussain Makke and brother Ali Hassan Kamran to discuss various important issues relating to men including Honour and Strength, Spouse Searching,  Pornography and Addictions and even Feminism.

What thoughts did you have that led you to create the series? 
Ahmed: I had a number of thoughts that led me to create this series. A lot of the thoughts were based on my life experiences from childhood until now. I was born in Iran and moved to the UK around the age of 2 with both of my parents and three older sisters. I didn’t necessarily have a strict upbringing, as neither culture or religion were enforced upon me, but I definitely felt like I had an identity crisis. Growing up, my parents were over protective which is understandable considering that they were concerned about my safety and well being. I’m grateful that their concerns prevented me from being in situations which I would later regret in life, but it also meant that my social skills would develop at a slower rate than others. As a result of this, people would take advantage of my kindness and naivety.
Fast forward to today as a 25 year old, I still feel like I have a lot to understand about myself and what it means to be a man. I’ve been a practising muslim since the age of 16 and specifically a shia muslim since the age of 18. Whilst I strongly believe in the path of the Quran and the AhlulBayt, I always felt like the community wasn’t well equipped to deal with our issues both in theory and practise. Unfortunately, cultural values tend to be given more priority than religious ones which I always found myself struggling with. I love and appreciate the good that comes from all cultures, but what the Quran and the AhlulBayt say comes first for me. I’ve been working as an editor/producer at an Islamic channel for almost 2 years now and I think it’s great how we have shows such as It Takes 2 and Ladies First which give women a platform to voice their views, but I also felt like there was a mentality of pretending that everything was fine with the male narrative.
We appreciate your efforts in creating this show and found the genuineness in the conversations refreshing. Do you think brothers and sisters are declining in their engagement with one another about the more real questions in life, particularly with the increasing superficiality that surrounds the world of entertainment we are faced with? 
Ahmed: I wouldn’t necessarily say there is a decline amongst brothers and sisters when it comes to their engagements with real questions. I believe that everyone is trying to understand and implement what’s “real”, but it’s very difficult to do so considering all the pressures we face in our community. As I said before, there’s a lot of focus on cultural values as opposed to religious ones. There’s a lot of pressure on brothers and sisters to follow a lifestyle that maintains their culture, even if it may contradict what Islam wants. It takes a lot of reflection and effort to break away from this. I’m grateful to Allah for granting me this blessing, not that I consider myself to be anyone special. However, I also have to acknowledge that it may be difficult for others, especially women. This is where I think it’s important for the men in our community to break free from these problems that have prevented us from progressing towards Allah, as it will also give more women the opportunity to do so as well.
You mentioned in the Career Choices episode the importance of considering how you can gear your career path to serve the community for the sake of Allah. What advice would you give to the youth with regards to practically setting your goals around such an intention?
Ahmed: When it comes to career choices, I have to acknowledge that I did and still have certain privileges when it comes to making decisions. I was never placed in a situation where my family were suffering from poverty to an extent that I had to make money regardless of the job. My advice was aimed towards people who are in a position of being able to choose any career they want without having to worry about the financial situation of their family. To choose a career for the sake of Allah for me means that you acknowledge everyone is unique with their own interests. Do what makes you happy as this will give you more satisfaction than having all of the money in the world. At the same time, work on developing your relationship with Allah, understanding yourself and think about how your career can be used to help make the world a better place.
Dealing with instant gratification is difficult. I have to be honest and say that I still have a long way to go when it comes to overcoming this. I grew up playing video games, so I was used to a life of instant gratification. However, there was a positive side to this as it helped me to realise I was a visual learner which eventually influenced my career choice. There’s no one solution to overcoming this, it’s a combination of things. On one hand, we have to strive to gain a better understand of life and our purpose. On the other hand, we experience situations which force us to observe patience.
Are there any personal experiences you’d like to share that could help and inspire people on the journey towards self-building?  
Ahmed: There have been times in my life where I’ve experienced depression and anxiety to the extent where I’ve felt completely useless, unable to help myself and others. It’s a horrible feeling when you’re exposed to all the problems of the world and you don’t even know where to begin helping others because you can barely help yourself. I still experience this feeling from time to time. Nothing has helped me more than trying to develop a genuine relationship with Allah – asking Him to give me strength, to be a positive, to think well of Him, to get closer to the Quran and the AhlulBayt. I never understood the narrations stating that duas are the shields of believers until Allah helped me to come out of situations where I thought I’d never be able to. I still have my struggles, my fears and insecurities, but I always try to maintain my relationship with Allah and find different ways of understanding this path better.
Watch Season 1 of the show here:

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