Essay and Short Video Contest
Who is the man admired by 1.8 billion Muslims around the world?
We live in a modern, global, and connected world, where, when people hear the name of Prophet Muhammad, they are either ignorant, misinformed or confused about what to think about him. The majority of people know little to nothing about his personality, his character, his message and what he brought to this world.
We invite you to participate in an essay contest where you will be tasked to write a reflection essay or shoot a video on the recently published book titled, The Messenger: Prophet Muhammad and His Life of Compassion, by Resit Haylamaz.
This book narrates the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and sheds light on segments of his life that are either neglected or glossed over in conflict-focused biographies. The narrations in this book revolve around the Prophet’s various strategies of diplomacy and reconciliation to avoid conflicts and help mediate a solution for humanity’s most difficult problems. In narrating these events, the book helps readers broaden their perspective on the life of the Messenger of God and better capture the ethos of his life. Indeed, both Muslims and non-Muslims alike may benefit from this understanding at a time when violent extremist groups are causing carnage with their brutality while dressing their totalitarian ideologies in Muslim garb. The book exposes the hypocritical and willful deception of these radical groups which cherry-pick incidents and sayings from the Prophet’s life, decontextualizing them and abusing them to serve their ideologies.
The extensive evidence presented in this book will not only dispel many myths about the life and message of the Noble Prophet, but also show how through compassionate efforts he conquered the hearts of people around him and turned them from die-hard enemies to devoted, faithful friends.
We would like to hear from you and invite you to participate in a reflection essay or video contest. Essays should be between 750 and 1000 words, while videos should be 2 to 4 minutes in length.
Please reflect on the book and respond to one or more questions below:
- What is the best aspect of the life of the Prophet Muhammad that today’s world could relate to?
- Write him a letter based on what you read in this book. What would you say to him if you were to write a letter from today’s world? What would you like to ask him? Please write him a letter expressing your view on today’s challenges and share with him your thoughts and feelings.
- How do you see the ways he solved the problems of his time, according to this book, relatable to our world and time now? Please explain in detail.
- What is the most important lesson you learned from this book? How did it influence and what kind of an impact did it have on you?
- What would you do to introduce the Prophet Muhammad to society? How would this book guide you in sharing what you learned to people of modern world today?
Essay Contest Guidelines:
Submission: Essays and videos should be submitted via the online form or email only. Each participant can submit only one (1) entry for consideration. The contestant or his/her/their adult sponsor (see below) may submit the essay on the contestant’s behalf.
Deadline: The 2019-2020 Essay Contest deadline is April 26, 2019 at 11:59 PM EST. Entries received after this deadline will not be considered.
Length: Essays must be between 750 and 1000 (max) words. Your response to the prompt should be clearly and powerfully communicated in the maximum permitted word count. Videos should be 2-4 minutes in length.
Eligibility: The contest is open to young individuals around North America. Contestants must be at least 12 years of age and no older than 25 when the contest concludes on April 26 at 11:59 PM EST.
Adult sponsor: Contestants who are 17 or younger must have a parent, teacher, club advisor, or another adult sponsor. The sponsor will serve as the contact person with contest organizers. The sponsor must review the contestant’s work prior to submission to ensure that it meets essay/video guidelines. By entering the sponsor’s information on the submission form, the contestant attests that their sponsor has reviewed the essay.
Language: Essays should be written in English and represent the contestant’s original work. Participants are welcome to write their essay in their native language; however, all essays must be translated into English for submission.
Original work: A teacher/sponsor can provide pre-writing activities and appropriate review, editing, and translation support, but the ideas, content, structure and style of the actual essay must come from the contestant alone.
Titling documents or videos for submission: All submissions must follow the following format when titling submission documents and videos:
Name the file “LastnameFirstinitial_Essay2019”. For example, Andrew Smith’s essay file will be named as “SmithA_Essay2019”
Failure to follow this format will result in a three (3) point deduction from a total possible score of sixty (60) points during the review process.
Winners and awards: A panel of reviewers selected by the contest organization committee will judge entries and award three level prizes per category. Each category will have a first, second, and third place winner. The categories and prizes are as follows:
1st Place: $500
2nd Place: $300
3rd Place: $200
12-15 years old
16-19 years old
20-25 years old
In addition to winning the award, winners will receive a certificate of recognition from the North East Islamic Community Center and will be featured on our website with a brief profile and picture. Awards will come in the form of a check (in the US) or wire (outside of US). If the check expires or is lost, a $29 cancellation fee will be deducted from the total when the check is re-issued.
Evaluation Criteria: Each submission is read and reviewed by at least three judges. Essays/videos will be evaluated using the following criteria:
Addresses Prompt—The essay effectively considers, either literally or metaphorically, the entirety of the prompt. Please do not submit an essay/video that is being used as your “college essay.” If an essay does not make an earnest attempt to address the contest’s prompt, it will not be considered for review.
Focus—The thesis/main message is clear and supported throughout. The essay/video does not stray from the main message.
Organization & Structure—The essay/video is organized and well-structured. Author/video manager demonstrates command of grammar, spelling, and mechanics.
Voice/Originality—The essay/video uses a highly engaging and personal style. The author/video manager finds fresh or interesting ways to convey ideas. The author/video manager approaches the topic from a unique perspective.
Evidence of Personal Reflection—The essay/video demonstrates that the author/video manager has genuinely explored the topic/question and how it relates to their own life. The essay reflects a depth in reflection.
DISCLOSURE: By submitting an essay or video, you are agreeing to the terms and conditions stated above. NEICC has the right to publish essays and videos on any website and may use in future contests.
Tips & Suggestions for Writing Your Essay
- Make the essay/video personal. Make a personal statement or tell a story that provides insight into your own experiences and views. Use the pronoun “I.”
- Use “talk it out” or “rapid free write” activities to spark ideas. Pretend a journalist or interviewer has asked you to comment on the essay prompt. Respond out loud, off the top of your head. Record your response or have a friend take notes about what you said. Alternatively, give yourself five minutes to write a response. Don’t stop to edit yourself. Just write. Analyze your response. What worked? What didn’t? Were there any particularly strong points or angles? Repeat the activity, but this time deliberately change your approach (try to answer the question a different way).
- Try an idea web or mapping brainstorm activity. Use a graphic organizer or make your own. Draw a circle or bubble at the center of a piece of paper. Write 1-3 words that capture the essay topic or theme inside the bubble. Think about words and ideas from the book associated with the theme. Write each theme in other bubbles surrounding the one in the center.
Summary of contest
The Messenger: Prophet Muhammad and His Life of Compassion by Resit Haylamaz narrates the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and sheds light on segments of his life that are either neglected or glossed over in conflict-focused biographies. The narrations in this book revolve around the Prophet’s various strategies of diplomacy and reconciliation to avoid conflicts and help mediate a solution for humanity’s most difficult problems. This contest encourages young members of society to read and understand Prophet Muhammad’s life and reflect upon it. Participants will be tasked on comparing today’s times with our Prophet’s time and responding to other questions in the essay or video. Contestants will have until 11:59 PM EST on April 26, 2019 to either write an essay or film a video that demonstrates their understanding of Prophet Muhammad’s life from this book. Three contestants will be chosen from three categories each to win up to $500.
To learn more, please visit the Contest 2019 page.