ENTREPRENEUR AND CO-FOUNDER OF ACCIDENTAL MUSLIMS
Being a Muslim youth in an antagonistic society bent on degrading us is a tremendous challenge. The negative depiction of Islam in the media only serves to dissuade the younger generation, who often shy away from being associated with our 1439-year old religion.
Enter Khalil Aleker, a progressive entrepreneur, consultant and coach who knew that he had the capability to change perceptions. While he works as an Employee Engagement Manager during the day, Khalil spends every spare minute revolutionising the way we view Islam via his podcast and website, AccidentalMuslims.com
It’s only been a year since AccidentalMuslims.com was launched, however, what it lacks in age, it makes up for in drive and dedication. Khalil, along with co-founder Zaheer Parker, spearhead this revisionist platform which has started conversations across the country and begun altering opinions in the most inspiring way possible.
While the name ‘Accidental Muslims‘ may be perplexing to some, it’s a title that Khalil is closely connected to. While at high school, Khalil – like most teenagers – was internally conflicted with regards to religion. He thought that because his parents were Muslim, he was automatically a Muslim and as such, it was not a resolute decision he had made but merely a religion he had inherited. Being surrounded by good friends, turning to the Quraan and having a circle of knowledge changed him into someone who now consciously befits the title ‘Proudly Muslim’. Since then, Khalil and Zaheer were actively involved in the MSA (Muslim Students Association) at university, and they’ve set out to empower the youth.
These were the first rungs of inspiration on the ladder to AccidentalMuslims.com Witnessing how easily the youth were swayed and how afraid they were to be Muslim under the critical public eye, the two entrepreneurs founded their Cape Town-based organisation. They wanted to steer the youth back to Islam in a creative way, hence the prominence of podcasts on AccidentalMuslims.com
With over ten years of experience in the IT world, Khalil believes that podcasts are the way of the future. He says that people really value their limited time, and with podcasts, it’s easier for them to listen to content while multitasking; be it in the car on the way to work, while running up a sweat in the gym or preparing family meals in the kitchen.
In the beginning, many were dismissive of their idea, however Khalil put pessimism aside and arduously worked towards making
AccidentalMuslims.com the success it is today. With over 12 000+ downloads of the podcast episodes, Khalil says that with the right intention and by putting everything in Allah’s hands, they were able to achieve their goals.
Podcasts were only the start to what is now a prospering platform. The idea to “bring the online community offline” got Khalil and Zaheer out of the studio and onto the podium, where they began hosting meet-ups for like-minded ‘Accidental Muslims’ and podcast fans. This grew in popularity and size which got the creators to organise a conference in Cape Town. Comprising of inspirational guest speakers from all walks of life, the conference proved to be a crowd-pleasing event which Khalil hopes to take to other South African cities as well.
The 35-year old says: “We believe we can learn from everyone.” At AccidentalMuslims.com, everyone is given an equal opportunity to express their beliefs and ideas, regardless of race, age, disability, culture or religion. “What AccidentalMuslims.com is about, is to raise people up and give them that platform to be better leaders.”
AccidentalMuslims.com is a registered NPO which tried to regularly team up with other charity organisations around the country. They have aligned themselves with Ilm SA in Durban, which provides bursaries to disadvantaged communities of all religions. They are also invested in Islamic Relief’s orphans project and are currently in talks withPenny Appeal South Africa
As we experience the highs and lows of faith and life, Khalil advises us to value the simple moments with loved ones and appreciate the magnanimity and graciousness of God.
Khalil’s proudest moment won’t be found in just a single accomplishment. He is in awe of the many blessings and opportunities brought by his organisation, including being featured on websites, being on live TV, speaking on radio, the success of their conference and having big brands aligned to their initiative.
His most touching experience thus far has been an encounter with a woman at their Durban chapter launch, who expressed how the AccidentalMuslims.com podcasts changed her life and gave her purpose after her depressive divorce. Khalil also recalls how an elderly Christian woman from Pretoria became closer to Islam through his platform. These gratifying micro-moments make Khalil proud and validate his journey as a positive thought-shaper.
Khalil’s best advice is: “Just do it. If you really want to do something and if you really believe in something, do it now.”
His future goal is to spread AccidentalMuslims.com’s groundbreaking change and optimism to Johannesburg early next year. They plan on hosting leadership conferences in both Johannesburg and Durban in 2018. Another interesting objective on deck is the launch of a TV series.
While we eagerly await that exciting new chapter to AccidentalMuslims.com’s logbook, Khalil Aleker continues on his inspirational quest to transform the youth by giving an aural lectern for remarkable speakers to be heard. You can listen to their captivating podcasts with the unsung, everyday heroes of our communities on www.accidentalmuslims.com
Alternatively, download the free mobile podcast application called ‘Stitcher’ and subscribe to AccidentalMuslims.com