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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mooz-lum, a fresh portrayal of Muslims

According to a recent study put out by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, Islam dominated the headlines for 2010. While this might appear to be a good thing, most of the news involved the rising antagonism towards Muslims. From the controversy over the planned community center by an Islamic group near Ground Zero to the Qur'an burning that was to be held by a pastor in Florida, many wonder whether there is any good positive and accurate portrayal of Muslim. Well let me tell you that there is one that has just come out and is a must watch by all, whether Muslim or not. It's a film by director and producer Qasim Basir titled Mooz-lum. The film's alludes to the mispronunciation which is often derogatory of “Muslim” by many Americans. The film centers on the character of Tariq Mahdi, a young Muslim who is starting college and trying to come to terms with his relationship with Islam. Tariq grew up in a strict Muslim household, with a strict father who wanted him to become a scholar of the Qur'an. When he starts college he wants to distance himself from his faith due to his bad experience with Islam as a young child. The film takes place a few days before September 11, 2001 with flashbacks to Tariq's life growing up with divorced parents, a very strict father, ridicule from his classmate, and his scarring training at a religious school. It is the day of September 11 that marks a turning point in Tariq’s life as well as the lives of Muslims. While the main focus is on the personal struggle of Tariq and his relationship with his family and faith, the movie also shows the struggle that Muslims face in America. On September 11, the Muslim students are fearful of their lives and are even attacked by other students who are venting their frustration of what happened in New York onto the Muslims around them. What I liked most about this movie was the accurate portrayal, from the diversity of the Muslim community to the challenges of college life for Muslim students to family life; all of it was so real and not contrived. When Tariq is embarrassed to say his name or tell more about his religion in school and college I could relate to it. He faces problems which all young Muslims can relate to such as drinking at a party. Additionally, the director presents one of the strongest portrayals of Muslim women in recent films. The Muslim women are not singular entities without a voice; rather, they are diverse and vocal. Tariq's mother is a very strong personality and is not afraid to speak her mind to her husband or to anyone else in the film. Tariq's sister and the other Muslim women are very sure of themselves and do not bow down to what others think of their religion or their dress. I highly recommend this movie to all, whatever your faith happens to be. In this time when there is negative portrayal, Mooz-lum humanizes Muslims and shows a fresh new perspective that is real. Mooz-lum is now playing in select AMC theaters in select cities.

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