CHICAGO—Saif Williams, a recent 8th grade graduate of Muhammad University of Islam, is fusing his love of architecture, computer science and gaming to create his latest project; a Minecraft replica of Mosque Maryam. Mosque Maryam is located in Chicago at the National Center which is the headquarters of the Nation of Islam.
Brother Saif designed his project in the block-based gaming platform Minecraft. His parents are Brother Tim 6X and Sister Ida M. X, and they saw the potential of their son’s skills at an early age. “He was a Lego builder. I first noticed it at two maybe three, he would just freestyle.” Sister Ida said.
“In one instance, he recreated a cover of The Final Call newspaper.” Brother Saif’s father told The Final Call that he purposely showed Saif Minecraft. “It was more of a digital form of the Lego world. The transition wasn’t a deliberate thing but I knew with a reminder from my wife, ‘he’s going to do what he sees you doing.’”
Brother Saif eventually fell in love with the platform and began creating all types of things. During the Covid lockdown, Saif’s parents challenged him to build Mosque Maryam. He didn’t accept the challenge initially. However, Brother Saif recalled the moment he did. “My dad and I were sitting on the couch and we were listening to something from Brother Ben X about the metaverse and digital real estate and my dad said what if you did it in Minecraft?”
After months of research, Brother Saif made Mosque Maryam in Minecraft using photographs, Google Earth, his memory, and experience to help fashion and shape aspects of Mosque Maryam using the materials available in the game. “I am very pleased with the final product! I spent at least three days straight on the mosque building. It’s really cool every time I look at it.”
Through a referral from an instructor in an enrichment program offered by Muhammad University, Brother Saif was able to participate in a computer science program offered by the University of Illinois. His instructors were impressed by his ability to communicate and utilize Minecraft as a teaching tool, as well as his idea that you could solve real world problems in Minecraft. He was able to present his work at a National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored planning workshop. He is currently working with the NSF Molecule Maker Lab Institute as a Research Scholar.
The Minecraft model of Mosque Maryam can be viewed via YouTube @sthebuilder.