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Mahershala Ali, the star of the acclaimed film, Moonlight, gave a moving and insightful acceptance speech. Amazing how those in the arts are gifted with the talents, stage, and opportunity, to represent us in some of the best situations. We need to consider how to [a] treat the arts and [b] how we support the development of Muslim artists, even if every part or film they make isn’t The Message.
— Variety (@Variety) January 30, 2017
When we kinda get caught up in the minutiae—the details that make us all different—I think there’s two ways of seeing that:  there’s an opportunity to see the texture of that person; the characteristics that make them unique.  And then there’s an opportunity to go to war about it. And they say, “That person is different from me”, and “I don’t like you. So let’s battle’.
The new movie by young film maker, Qasim Basir – Mooz-lum – has been causing quite a stir in both Muslim and non-Muslim circles. Much of this inter-Muslim dialog I have observed online (Facebook for example) has waxed axiomatic around such platitudes as authenticity and morality to whether there should be a sequel to Mooz-lum, where the main character returns to complete his memorization of the Qur’an. As much as Mooz-lum is a signifier of the maturation process taking place within the Muslim community, some of the commentary surrounding it still illustrates how far Muslims have to go. Therefore, this short piece will be as much a review of the review of Mooz-lum, as it is a film review of the movie itself.
I should make it clear that I am familiar with the film maker. We both hail from the same part of Michigan (or thereabouts) and thus, when I discovered a few years ago that Qasim was making this film, I was excited and happy on many levels. In my time teaching at Muslim schools in Michigan, I encountered several Muslim children that were very similar to Tariq’s dilemma (the film’s main character). I was approached on more than one occasion by a Muslim parent instructing me to make their son or daughter a hāfiẓ of Qur’an. Some children came from households where only one parent was Muslim, others from families who “wanted the best” for their children, an Islamic education. Continue reading “Mooz-Lum: Thoughts and Reflections on an American Muslim Movie”