Tarique A Bhat
When on June 4 this year, US President Obama at Cairo University said sought a “new beginning” between the United States and Muslims around the world, Kashmiri origin filmmaker Faruq Masudi was all set to release a documentary film Quran Contemporary Connections.
Masudi has used the “cinema verite” or “cinema of truth” style of documentary film-making where the unvarnished truth is presented to the viewer. It is filled with interesting facts about Quran in a modular style with utterly factual interviews.
The film produced in Hollywood with an all American cast and crew positions Quran in a modern context and refutes the view that Islam is outdated. It places Quranic themes like democracy, jihad, women, sex, polygamy, charity peace diversity and violence in urban and Western settings and establishes their compatibility with Western values.
According to filmmaker, a group of American professors were asked to probe deep into the minds of 1.3 billion Muslims, Quran and present its themes to find out if the Quran was out of tune with modern times.
Unaware of each others assignments, the panel has looked into the fountainhead of Islam and the findings include:
“In Islam, sex is a good thing. Allah is not a Muslim specific God; even Arabic speaking Jews and Christians use the word Allah in their liturgies. Polygamy is a blessing. We are not God and God is not us. It is mandatory for Muslims to revere all the Prophets of Judaism and Christianity. Muslims do not worship Muhammad. Everybody is a born Muslim!”
Though the film’s intended audience is Western but it appeals to a broad audience including Muslims for its educational value.
Despite many films on Islam in recent times mainly in the West, the understanding barriers remain, as both the west and Musilm are guided by fear, not facts.
A new documentary film by Unity Productions Foundation based on the Gallup Poll report, on public opinion of Muslims in more than 35 nations titled — Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think —argues that what Muslims around the world hope to get from the United States, is not money, military support or even democracy but understanding and respect.
Pseudo-documentary films present Islam as an inherently violent religion concluding that Muslims resort to violence because of religion. Muslims are absolutely helpless and fast becoming 21st century Jews.
Hollywood’s stereotyping of African-Americans, Arabs, and Islam, too, has an even longer and uglier history
“Islam: What the West Needs to Know” the only production by Quixotic Media, has been a denunciation of Islam with a clear agenda to defame the religion.
Another film “Obsession” has endless repetitive barrage of flashy and shocking images presented in a de-contextualized atmosphere, smacking of what we might best call propoganda.
There has to be a clear distinction between propaganda intended to misinform, and a thoughtful, balanced analysis like that of Quran Contemporary connections.
The hardcore documentary by seasoned filmmaker, who has produced several soap operas and television shows, aims to reach out to the media as well as government officials and decision makers to give them a “fresh first hand uncorrupted insight into what Quran is about.”
“I made this film for the very obvious reason that we Muslims are being judged wrongly by non-Muslim communities and it was high-time a professional Muslim set the record straight,” explains Masudi. So, this film is not any hypocritical and non- professional endeavor by any clergy or fanatic but carefully researched segmented film.