Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Muslim-themed Movies

Whether it's through reading, listening or watching a movie, I think it's safe to say that everyone loves a good story. There's nothing like diving in head-first into the world of a good book, or being captivated by the rush of emotions a movie brings. That's because stories are a reflection of life. An interesting analogy which summed it up perfectly was: "stories are like human currency". You learn about peoples cultures, beliefs, and values through stories. You are introduced to new ideas and are able to relate to situations and look back on personal experiences through a good story. Even as a Muslim, a good story is what inspires, strengthens your faith and engages your mind, be it from the Qur'an or the Hadith.

As a lover of storytelling with a degree in creative writing, I spend a good chunk of my free time looking for movies that tell a good story. One of my favorite filmmakers Spike Lee spoke about the intention behind his movies, “I'm just trying to tell a good story and make thought-provoking, entertaining films. I just try and draw upon the great culture we have as a people, from music, novels, the streets.”

The medium of film is a powerful tool and whether you know it or not, a lot of our values, perceptions and ideals are shaped by films, directly or indirectly. Many different cultures have used film as a means of showing the positive side of their identity and educating the world about their culture. I can easily note African Americans, Jewish people, Latinos, Christians as those who have used film in this way. But what about Muslims?

You don't really see a lot of movies with a Muslim theme, that is, where there is a Muslim main character and the story deals with the struggles and challenges the Muslim character or characters have to endure. Movies which do contain Muslim characters or themes are usually negative and that needs to change. As more and more Muslims pursue a profession in the creative arts and the film world, the Muslim narrative can be shown to the masses rather than just the caricatures we see today. I myself hope to contribute by coming up with movie scripts with a Muslim theme which aims to enlighten the rest of the world on our struggles and what Islam really is about.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Whacked Out News: NY Cab Driver Returns $21K Left Behind by Passenger

Who says "Whacked Out News" always has to be something negative?
(NEWSER) – Taxi driver Mohammad Asadujjaman says he was just following his mother's advice to always be honest when he went out of his way to find a passenger who left a handbag containing $21,000 in the back seat of his cab. The Bangladesh-born med student ended up making two 50-mile trips to Long Island to reunite his passenger, an Italian grandmother, with her cash, passport, and jewelery, theGuardian reports. 
"They were so, so, so happy," the 28-year-old cabbie said of his passenger and her family, whose vacation would have been ruined without his honesty. Asadujjaman says he was never tempted to keep the cash, and declined to accept a reward from the family, saying that he couldn't take it because he is a devout Muslim. "I'm needy but I'm not greedy," he said. "It's better to be honest."

Very admirable gesture from the brother given the circumstances since cab drivers barely make squat and with the high standard of living in The Big Apple, finding that chunk of change would be tempting to anyone. I like that the article said he didn't take the money because he is a devout Muslim. I make an attempt to be as devout as I can be but even I know that Shaitan would be tempting my broke behind to take the moolah and split. Begone Satan!

When reading this article, I was more interested in what the comments would be underneath. One person said, "Wow, who knew there were actually good Muslims out there?" I didn't know if that was meant to be sarcastic or not but it stood out to say the least. Other ragged on the guy for not taking the dough and some commended him for being virtuous and better than themselves because if they were in the same position, they wouldn't be as selfless. 

There was actually more to the story as brother Mohammad actually REFUSED a reward of $2,000 from the lady he returned the money to as a token of her appreciation. When asked why he turned down the dough, Mohammad said, "When I was 5 years old, my mother told me, 'Be honest, work hard and you will raise your station,' Gotta hand it to the brother as he is truly in the right mind frame. The blessings and raised status in the eyes of the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth is a far better reward than a couple of wrinkled up benjamins in this life. In the words of the Native Deen song, "Small deeds, never overlook!"

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fajr, the Lazy Killer

I truly respect successful writers, no matter what form. Be it a novel, a textbook, poetry, a Hollywood screenplay or blogging; the ones who are on the grind and churning out writing pieces on the regular deserve all the props you can throw at them. I can only dream of possessing even a small fraction of their productivity. What's their secret to success? Well, I know that. They wake up early and write in the solitude of the early morn while the rest of the world is still catching their Z's.

Now naturally, this shouldn't be a problem for me. As a Muslim, it's essentially a must to be early risers because we have to pray the first obligatory prayer of the day, Fajr, right at the break of dawn. Of course for many Muslims, even devout ones, this can be easier said than done. I'm sure a ton of Muslims don't wake up for Fajr and ignore the Adhan(call to prayer) clock and fade back into La-La land (guilty). Then we have another segment who do get up, pray the Fajr prayer and plop right back into bed (guilty of this too)!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Spittin' The Truth: Rapper Hopsin Blasts Society in "Ill Mind of Hopsin 5"

Ever since my Islamic enlightenment a couple of years back, I've cut mainstream music out completely. I don't know what's "poppin' on the streets" and couldn't tell you one song looping on the Top 40 Hit Stations other than "Call Me Maybe" and that's only because today's media has allowed this song to be absolutely unavoidable. The only other times I'm exposed to hip hop and pop music is at the gym, playing video games or at certain restaurants and gatherings. Whenever I do willingly lend my ear to some tunes, it's very selectively.

Hip Hop is dead for the most part. Gone are the days of a true narrative to a song which enlightens the masses on the often harsh realities of the world we live in. However, there are a handful of artists who still use the genre of hip hop for what it was meant for, preaching the truth and opening minds.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

6 Creepy "Muslim" Men All Women should Avoid

Come little children, gather round the campfire. It's horror story time.

Have you heard this scary tale?

American girl meets exotic Muslim boy. Sparks fly. Love is in the air. Muslim boy proposes marriage. American girl excitedly agrees. BUT American girl needs to convert first. Huh? We didn't talk about religion at all before? Doesn't matter. Say some Arabic words (shahadah) and throw this thing on your head (hijab) and you're good. Now the story can take a variety of horrifying interesting turns...