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Make me a Muslim ...wait, what ?
December 26, 2007 7:20 AM   Subscribe

Make me a Muslim. The recently aired three episodes show takes a glamour model who wants to experience being completely hidden under a dress ,a skin therapist looking for meaning of life, a taxi driver that strongly feels islam is threatening UK lifestyle, a school teacher who wants to learn, an interracial interreligion couple and a flaming gay hairdresser tired of shallow party life. Take this colourful bunch and have two imams, a preacher and a converted woman lead them through an "islamic lifestyle" experience. You can watch the results here , I guess at least for a while.
posted by elpapacito (59 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
islamic lifestyle experience, now there's some low-hanging fruit. do not want!
posted by bruce at 7:35 AM on December 26, 2007


Look, it's Muslim eye for the kafir guy!
posted by Siberian Mist at 7:44 AM on December 26, 2007 [4 favorites]


This documentary is a misconcieved from the get-go and not worth watching. A bunch of people sign up to follow the Islamic rules for three weeks, then they proceed to complain, bitch about, and deliberately not follow the rules of Islam at all. Moronic.

The only one who comes out of looking good is the naive Nigerian happy-clappy dude.

Not worth your time I'm afraid. OTOH, this documentary is ace.
posted by dydecker at 7:44 AM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Not worth your time I'm afraid

I doubt you watched it at all, or with enough attention. It's not always deliberate defiance, but in the taxi driver stance.
posted by elpapacito at 7:49 AM on December 26, 2007


This week on Fox: the new Big Brother set in an abbey where all contestants must follow the precepts of 14th Century Christianity. How will they react when the subject of self-flaggelation is broached? Will Ingrid agree to be burned at the stake for her transgressions? John becomes afflicted with the Black Death, how will the team cope? How will the crew react to the continued de-evolution of Vulgate latin into the various Romance Languages? Will the crew be able to keep up with the rigorous demands on manuscript transcription? Tune in on Friday!
posted by psmealey at 7:49 AM on December 26, 2007 [11 favorites]


Although, I haven't seen this series, certain things about it seem highly suspect. There are several forms of the "Islamic lifestyle" that stop well short shari'a and having women sport the hijab. I'm not quite sure what insight is gained by enforcing one interpretation of what it means to be a Muslim in this age in a western city.
posted by psmealey at 7:51 AM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this, looking forward to checking it out. Reminds me of Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days episode where a devout Christian tried living as a Muslim for 30 days. He started out offended and scared about everything, and you get to watch him slowly realize that Muslims are not anything like the people who "wear sheets and carry AK-47s" that he'd expected.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:51 AM on December 26, 2007 [9 favorites]


I doubt you watched it at all, or with enough attention. It's not always deliberate defiance, but in the taxi driver stance.

I watched the whole thing and it was not worth my time. Just another lazily concieved reality show. You sign up to follow a set of rules, and then you do your very best not to follow them? What kind of idiot does that?

The taxi driver was foolish, sure, deliberately going out to titty bars and eating ham for breakfast. But the most foolish person in the show for my money was the girl trying to use a corny TV show to seriously try and win over her inlaws. Seriously deluded, and talk about setting yourself up for a fall. No wonder she was always crying
posted by dydecker at 7:56 AM on December 26, 2007


Try watching the 30 Days episode, dydecker. I'm curious what you would think of that one. He abided by everything, pretty much.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:57 AM on December 26, 2007


psmealey writes "I'm not quite sure what insight is gained by enforcing one interpretation"

Lets suppose that this particular intepretation, that we understand being an interpreation , is held by millions who don't even know exactly why they do that, because it's so much diffused it has become an habit. Imagine that you just are born into a group that dress X , eat Y (or don't eat Y) ...unless you strongly disagree with X,Y you are going to adopt it, if anything because that's what widely avaiable , because it's the local fashion , because you feel an outkast if you don't.

Not suprisingly the imams , as far as I can see from the video, are being rather rigorous..and I suspect because they understand these person are there on their own free will YET they did NOT necessarily come in the middle of a life crysis...it's not the kind of people that goes to church because they so much desperately need a friend.
posted by elpapacito at 8:00 AM on December 26, 2007


When you have an imam telling a provincial English woman that she cannot wear skimpy outfits because it invites rape, nobody is coming off really well.

There's a lot more to Islam than a series of restrictive rules, many of which your everyday Muslim ignores anyway.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:01 AM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


No I've not seen it... but from what I've heard it was basically, Islam has some rules that might be a bit difficult to stick unless you are born into it or convert with no sense of devotion that a true convert probably should have.
There was a much more interesting doc recently about a group of both Muslims and non-Muslims (including Christians, atheists and agnostics) of various levels of devotion going on a retreat with some Sufi Muslims.
Or the one about the American Christians who were so hard-core that ordintary Christianity was too wimpy for them and they became Muslims.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:09 AM on December 26, 2007


miss lynnster writes "Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days episode"

Thanks I will certainly watch it !
posted by elpapacito at 8:18 AM on December 26, 2007


psmealey, I would watch that.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:23 AM on December 26, 2007


deliberately going out to titty bars and eating ham for breakfast.

Like that most devout among Muslims, Muhammad Atta.
posted by chlorus at 8:25 AM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I can't help but think, "Extreme Islamic Makeover!" Seems a bit silly. Religion is not a fashion.
posted by clevershark at 8:33 AM on December 26, 2007


...a glamour model who wants to experience being completely hidden under a dress ,a skin therapist looking for meaning of life, a taxi driver that strongly feels islam is threatening UK lifestyle, a school teacher who wants to learn, an interracial interreligion couple and a flaming gay hairdresser tired of shallow party life. Take this colourful bunch and have two imams, a preacher and a converted woman lead them through an "islamic lifestyle" experience.

They Fight Crime!
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:52 AM on December 26, 2007


Well, I just started watching it... but the Sharia law argument with the taxi driver has already annoyed me. The guy said how he started the project because he wants to learn about Muslim people so he can understand better, and then the first thing he does is yell at the guy for "wanting all of Britain" to cut the hands off of thieves. Which isn't what Sharia is about. Ijit.

So far, I prefer the 30 Days episode and it's respectful, peace-driven slant. The editing here doesn't feel like it's really about teaching or understanding Muslim people sincerely, it's not about seeing the world from their perspective, but rather to make fun of how crazy different and demanding they are and create reality show-ish conflict. ("No sex! No touching! Where does that leave skimpy outfits!?") These people annoy me, they're like uber whiny Big Brother contestants. I'll keep watching and see if I change my mind. So far I'm thinking I might not.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:53 AM on December 26, 2007


you get to watch him slowly realize that Muslims are not anything like the people who "wear sheets and carry AK-47s" that he'd expected.

Yes! That 30 days episode was really excellent. I fully expected it to suck, and suck hard. I mean, it's so friggin' contrived: a super Christian being dropped into a culture that he obviously disdains? Yeah, that will be "good TV" only insofar as it will have lots of people yelling Springer-style, right?

Nope. It turns out to be a really neat look at someone discovering that he didn't know everything.

Well suggested, Miss L.
posted by quin at 8:56 AM on December 26, 2007


Religion is not a fashion.

Except Kabbalah. Or Scientology. Or whatever was happening with Buddhism in the 90s. Or whatever the next big thing is (I'm hoping for a return to fundamentalist worship of the great and uncaring Nyarlathotep, myself).
posted by Parasite Unseen at 8:56 AM on December 26, 2007


clevershark writes "Religion is not a fashion"

But fashion can be part of a religion, burqa anybody ?

Imagine a nudist in the middle of NY walking down the street with a dress so revealing he/she is only wearing something, not covering anything. How many eyebrows rising ? Now the polar opposite, a person who is so much dressed you almost can't tell it from a walking tepee.

In both instance, we'll have people who say that they just can't do that and feel strongly about that for a number of reason. Some justify behavior because of environmental factors ( can't dress with a fig if its freezing cold) , other because the mere presence of too undress is discomfortably arousing , or too dressed is scary...which is an internal cause, personal and possibily lived by others as well.

It is also interesting too see how the converted to islam woman rationalizes wearing a lot of "covering" dresses , if my memory serves she said that a woman does that because he loves his man and she wants nobody to enjoy her beautiful body, but her man.

That's quite interesting, because it seems to be a clever rationalization used to justify an old tradition. Indeed

1. if she did want to dress in a way, she would do that regardless of what her significant other thinks
2. but by saying (to herself primarily) she is doing that for his man, she feels that

a) it is still her will, her choice to do that (not anybody else will)
b) but she does that primarily to benefit her partner, making her feel generous for him
c) yet this may completely cover up the fact she absolutely doesn't want to be seen by others because she is , really, afraid of showing herself as-she-is, because she
sees herself as ugly, but prefers to think she is doing that for others, because if she did that for herself that would make her too much conscious she is doing that as protective measure, a denial of her own body.

But I guess a woman could comment on that with more first person insight on feminine psychology.
posted by elpapacito at 9:03 AM on December 26, 2007


Which isn't what Sharia is about.

Perhaps he'd been watching this programme, Miss Lynnster?

Panorama: How I became a Muslim Extremist.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:05 AM on December 26, 2007


Okay, this is ticking me off now.

I also think it's wrong that they recruited a very openly gay man and didn't tell him point blank that homosexuality is totally against Sharia so it simply isn't a religion that would be right for him. Their method to deal with the issue is RIDICULOUS. Rather than saying point blank, "Homosexuality is against Islam," and being upfront about it, they just make him get rid of his tutus and makeup. So he's all excited about how his life is going to gain spiritual meaning and they start to educate him on why they don't drink and all sorts of stuff. But then in part 3 they start telling him that he can't be friends with girls because that's what makes him act like them. And then they try to make him learn how to play cricket with men because they actually imply that's going to fix him. And then they go up and down the street looking to recruit a beautiful girl "to become his wife," telling his potential wives that they have to be able to "cook and clean." But worst of all, when the gay man says he thinks it's all insulting, the imam guy actually used "They didn't create Adam & Steve" argument to explain to the guy why his gayness is a problem?

How is this going to bring about any understanding of Muslims? These people are ALL ijits. So far, I feel like this documentary could make people who LIKE Muslims dislike Muslims.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:11 AM on December 26, 2007


This sounds great--I love makeover shows. I positively adored Poor Little Rich Girls!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:15 AM on December 26, 2007


miss lynnster writes "I feel like this documentary could make people who LIKE Muslims dislike Muslims"

Well if they fall into the generalization that all muslims are equal, of course they will. Yet wouldn't it be acutely dissonant with the _fact_ they like some other muslim that may not be at all represented by an asshole all-kwowing quran-thumper ? If anything, people embracing the valuable teachings that are embedded into islam (trivial, but fundamental as regular hygiene, or more advanced like systematic charity) and feeling strongly muslim, will probably see how bible/quran thumpers aren't that different after all.
posted by elpapacito at 9:19 AM on December 26, 2007


As I've said before, I wish more people understood that Muslim fundamentalists represent the average Islamic as well as fundamentalist Christians represent the average Christian. I've watched this whole thing now. And I didn't like it at all. It's really more like a Muslim-themed "I'm (not) a celebrity, get me out of here." In future episodes I'm expecting "bush tucker trials" where they get to slaughter a ram for Eid al-Adha. Yay!

Seriously, watch the 30 Days episode instead, it's waaay better... far more respectful, enlightening and interesting. Not to mention, the people in it aren't so freakin' slappable and stupid.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:35 AM on December 26, 2007


Is there a writers strike over there too?
posted by 517 at 9:35 AM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


YMMV, of course.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:36 AM on December 26, 2007


If they followed the rules and actually learned something it wouldn't be good complete shit (reality) TV.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 10:17 AM on December 26, 2007


Is there a writers strike over there too?

Yeah, they've been out on the picket line since 1995.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:18 AM on December 26, 2007


As I've said before, I wish more people understood that Muslim fundamentalists represent the average Islamic as well as fundamentalist Christians represent the average Christian.

I'm pretty sure that most people get that. However, it's also not very interesting. What most people really want to know, IMO, is what proportion of Muslims share the views of the fundamentalists, and to what extent the views and beliefs of average Muslims are congruent with fundamentalists.

I've no idea about the USA, but there are unquestionably Mosques here in the UK where you'll find a fairly wide divergence of beliefs. Some of them will be the comfortable 'family friendly' Muslims that we saw in the Morgan Spurlock documentary. Others will have views more closely resembling these guys from Green Lane Mosque in Birmingham. People want some idea about what the actual proportions are, and how 'moderate' Muslims are responding to this tendency.

A movie I enjoyed greatly recently was Penny Woodcock's Mischief Night. Set in Yorkshire, one of the sub-plots of the movie is that Islamic fundamentalists are in the process of taking over the local Mosque. As a consequence, the local Imam asks a convicted heroin dealer to try and persuade his ex-boss, the local Mr. Big to take up the fight with the fundies on their behalf.

Sure, it was fiction, and fiction with a comedic bent, but it portrays the sort of reality that I'm familiar with and that I'm interested in seeing on my television screen with much more accuracy than either the reality-TV-trash of Make Me a Muslim or the PC-kid-gloves approach of the Morgan Spurlock thing.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:49 AM on December 26, 2007


Well, I just started watching it... but the Sharia law argument with the taxi driver has already annoyed me.

Snap. This is truly awful. Shame on them.
posted by forallmankind at 10:52 AM on December 26, 2007


Isn't the subtext of the entire programme that even this-is-a-Christian-country cab drivers, glamour models and thoughtless party boys are more open-minded and eclectic (as are we the viewers) than urbane Muslims, who would, after all, never be found on Make me a Freethinker? Yes.
posted by topynate at 11:04 AM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of something Louis Theroux would do.
posted by mullingitover at 11:10 AM on December 26, 2007


Mischief Night isn't so fictional. There's a mosque in the BC lower mainland that has been in conflict, as the fundies wish it to be one way, and everyone else wishes it the other. "Takeover" would be a fair description, IMO.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:31 AM on December 26, 2007


mullingitover: I think you're comparing apples and oranges. Louis Theroux creates reasonably intelligent, often tongue-in-cheek, documentaries about various sub-cultures for which he has been nominated for and won several prestigious television awards. Make Me A Muslim on the other hand appears to be schlock reality tripe aimed at pushing the worst buttons in both the participants and viewers - somehow I'm not seeing any of these episodes picking up too many entertainment or journalistic accolades....
posted by forallmankind at 12:27 PM on December 26, 2007


topynate writes "are more open-minded and eclectic (as are we the viewers) than urbane Muslims, who would, after all, never be found on Make me a Freethinker? Yes."

I'd replace Muslim with a wildcard, because you will find followers of (religion) that strictly adhere to their beliefs and that, either more evidently or more secretly, barely tolerate or even despise the behaviors of other people. A number of self professed chrisitan routinely forget the teachings of Jesus, when it comes to tolerance and understanding of others, other extremize it to the point they find pleasure in becoming martyrs or victims of abuses, sometime not even realizing they put themselves in situation in which any reasonable people would stop them...yet they would cry rivers they were being denied their freedoms, but Jesus told them to do so...authority told them it is ok.

There was another subtext in the program : the participants are people with troubles . You'll notice that each one of them, except the teacher, could be seen as having some kind of issue

1. the model with two kids : the father figure is nowhere to be found, she could be described as a slutty decadent ho , but also as a person with self-acceptance issues that as a lot to offer to herself, if only she hated herself less.

2. the taxi driver : he sees threats left and right, sometime reasonably so, but he can't see the threat given by alcohol abuse. He grossly generalizes, yet he discovers that indeed there are muslims who are very nice, hard working guys

3. the skin therapist: problably feels quite alone, there is no hint of a family or a companion, or is in the middle of a life change. More then problematic, she is looking for meaning as he apparently found herself, as Dante would say, in the middle of dark forest.

4 the school teacher: which is the one apparently "normal" here, because she feels they are being led by nose , they are dressing muslim , not learning anything about the core values

5. the interracial interreligion couple: in which there's a clear conflict between a rather emotional girl, who reasonably senses a lot of problems in being rejected by his bf family, and his bf who obviously doesn't want to give up his family, because in practice it's a lot harsher then you saying "fuck you" to your family for love of somebody else.

PeterMcDermott writes "People want some idea about what the actual proportions are, and how 'moderate' Muslims are responding to this tendency."

Tell you what, I am with these people. I want to know how many moderate catholics are responding to paedophiles in the Church of Rome, and in other spinoff of Catholicism. I want to know how many moderate Jews are responding to mutilation practices (read circumcision) on defenseless childrens and if you give me some time I will find dirt on your religion whatever it is, and I will blame you if somebody who claims to belong to your group , or hides behind your group, does something I strongly disapprove of.

I will demand that you shun them and start picketing their congregations , otherwise you are supposed to no longer let yourself be seen with them or I will treat you exactly like them, whatever is it you say you did to stop them. I'll take on you, because your not being able to ostracize them makes you like them.
posted by elpapacito at 12:32 PM on December 26, 2007


The 30 Days episode is 45 minutes long and worth watching, IMO. It's much better than I'd expected. I do think it could be much better, but that'd make it a serious documentary and I suspect those don't sell nearly as well to the public.

Which is a shame. I'd like to watch something that's much more indepth in its exploration of both faiths and the guy's internal conflicts as he dealt with reconciliation of the two faiths. It strikes me that on a strictly logical level, it makes far more sense to understand Christ as a mortal prophet, and to worship the One God directly.

Hell, they need to get a posse of mid-life faithful from all three faiths, plus someone who's areligious, and run 'em through all three religious environments over, say, three months for each one. We'll give 'em a structured week: a day of study, the day of prayer, a day of introspection, a day of market and cooking, a day of designated semi-educational/historical/cultural tourism, a day of privacy, a day with the host family doing stereotypical family things.

Take all the film of experience and education and thoughtful introspection and make it into nice season-long series. In the end each religion gets a full seven hour's worth of excellent Religion 101 with superb human-interest angles from four distinct viewpoints.

Hell, I'd pay to see that.

Some university kids should team up and do this as a Master or Doctorate thesis project. Release to web, educate the world, collect paypal contributions.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:09 PM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


I want to know how many moderate catholics are responding to paedophiles in the Church of Rome, and in other spinoffs of Catholicism.

Indeed. It is horrifying how church hierarchies are deliberately protecting paedophiles from punishment. Known child-fuckers — I mean, jesus think about what that really means! — have been moved from church to church, or moved out of legal jurisdictions, or even frackin' moved out of the country, so that they won't be held accountable for those acts of buggery!

It simply blows me away that these same church hierarchies are credited with any moral authority whatsoever.

People are irredeemingly stupid.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:15 PM on December 26, 2007


I agree with you, five fresh fish.

I've no idea about the USA, but there are unquestionably Mosques here in the UK where you'll find a fairly wide divergence of beliefs.

I think that's one of the reasons they have a duty to not make tripe like this. I asked a friend in London how life was a while ago and she responded, "Oh my Lynn, you wouldn't believe how many MOSQUES are here now. It's horrible." There are people who very literally believe that the muslims are trying to take over London and start a war. They feel invaded by people they don't understand. I've seen that there definitely are a few nutcase Muslims in the bunch and I don't question that, although I find it difficult to believe that the nutcases are the majority. Fundamentalists are NEVER the majority. But this show isn't helping to ease the xenophobia in the slightest, in my opinion.

My impression is that the average Londoner is just as afraid of Muslims as the average American, but the fear has a different flavor to it. Brits are feeling surrounded by Muslims they can see; Americans feel endangered by Muslims they can't see. The thing that it all has in common is that it's xenophobia fed by ignorance. Muslims are not real people to many, many people... they are just "others" to be avoided. Without any personal understanding or knowledge of who these "foreigners" are, they assume they are enemies on the side of evil and want to hurt them. They aren't neighbors, they're the enemy that's invaded their neighborhood.

One thing I found really interesting in the Morgan Spurlock thing was that the guy felt super uncomfortable in the mosque when they were praying because he "didn't know what they were saying." He ASSUMED that their prayers probably involved some kind of "I hate Christians" stuff, it never entered his mind that they were just praying to their God, and in Arabic the word for God is Allah but the word Allah represents the Christian, Jewish and Coptic God as well. (The only reason he's called Allah in Islam is because no matter your birth language, the original Arabic Quran is what people worship. If Christians weren't so big on translations, they'd be doing the same thing and praying to the ancient Bibles in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic & Greek.) And then he worried that if he prayed in the church he would be forsaking his own God without realizing that God is God... that nobody expected him to pray to a God that wasn't his own, they just want to pray. Once he realized that, and he realized he could pray for whoever he wanted and that he wasn't surrounded by the Devil competing for his soul but rather people who respected his beliefs, he mellowed out and realized he was the one being an ass.

I'm just not sure what this Muslim Fab Four was thinking with this show... what their real motivation was to make it, besides money. They're definitely not coming across well as people or making their life or the life of their fellow Muslims any better, they're not doing Muslims a service of any kind. If anything, they are showing themselves to be oblivious and offensive... "Look! We took the gay man out of the pink shirt! You must be so happy because you are wearing a manly shirt now! Praise Mohammed peace be upon him!" Meanwhile, the gay man a few feet from him is about to cry and very, very clearly feels like shit. In my experience average Islamic people are very kind, peaceful and caring people... not cruel and blind. A lot of people are cruel and blind towards Muslims... so I would hope they would use this show as an opportunity to better educate. It isn't, from what I could see.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:49 PM on December 26, 2007 [4 favorites]


miss lynnster writes "In my experience average Islamic people are very kind, peaceful and caring people."

I could say the same of many of the roman catholics I know, but damn if I know a priest that didn't tend to go bible-thumping sooner or later , or somehow return to the ineffable perfection of the scripture, the divinity and the supreme authority of "the book" , expecially when they were caught in something they didn't know how to handle properly.

Indeed the imam attempts to speak to the gay guy, but gets pissed of so quickly he turns into a candidate for Darwin Awards with the line "Adam & Steve" ...but hey , he isn't used to arguing, he probably more often than not has a willingly, silent audience, in awe and terror of invisible beings ! He's probably considering that if he was to work with that kind of audience, he'd have been better off driving a taxi in ny.

Unfortunately, I didn't meet many preachers that didn't have use the ace of divinity to escape their own incompetence..and that has consequences, including being called a supertitious, bigot asshole. Fact that some preachers are just snake oil salesman just makes things worse.
posted by elpapacito at 2:59 PM on December 26, 2007


I'm an American who is surrounded by actual Muslims. I live in a part of downtown Minneapolis that has thousands of east African immigrants in it. There are Muslim restaurants up and down the road from me. The grocery store I shop at is Muslim-owned and run. The entire apartment complex across the street from me if inhabited by Muslims, and I would say that roughly one-third of the apartment complex I live in is Muslim. From direct, day to day experience, I would say my only complaint is that they are, in general, terrible drivers, which makes them slightly worse drivers than your average Minnesotan.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:04 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Astro Zombie writes "I would say my only complaint is that they are, in general, terrible drivers,"

My theory is you didn't notice you have been living in Saudi Arabia and you are still driving in the wrong lane, after all these years.
posted by elpapacito at 3:12 PM on December 26, 2007


Oh, sure, blame the victim.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:13 PM on December 26, 2007


elpapacito: wow, you're really going in to bat for this show. Fair game. But this is unquestionably an entertainment show - it's not a documentary that you can use as a valid reference source for what appears to be a muslims v catholics argument. See Astro Zombie's post on being in a reality show.
posted by forallmankind at 3:56 PM on December 26, 2007


forallmankind writes "wow, you're really going in to bat for this show"

Eheh not for the show, couldn't care less if they make two more 'season' or zero. I am more interested into the comments.As for that post from Astro, that's one of my favorites ! Yet while I appreciate documentaries that try not to distort or misrepresent, I don't mind staged stuff if it depicts a plausible reality...as opposed to "isle of survivors" kind of stuff, in which nobody with half a clue think these actors would last more then one day, if anything because they couldn't find water :)
posted by elpapacito at 4:08 PM on December 26, 2007


Still waiting for the reality TV show titled: "Make Me a Critical Thinker."

I suppose I'll havce a long wait...
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:15 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Miss Lynnster, I just watched the Morgan Spurlock show. Frankly, I found the whole concept of his series a little patronising. The idea seems to be that if only we'd all understand a little of each other's faith, then we all could live happily together. As a non-believer, I reject this view. This is non-news, but we all know people are very capable of getting along despite mutually incompatible superstitions. In short, the show presents faith as a solution to social harmony, whereas it is in fact a root cause of the problem.

Compare this with Louis Theroux's approach, which tries to humanise its subjects despite their wacky views, rather than boxing them in as automaton representatives of ideologies. This approach is why the subjects seem to have difficulty filling up their 30 days with strictly Christian or Muslim or gay activities. This is not an accurate view of people, or of life.

Also the view of Islam it presented was so basic, like "Hey Islam is a branch of the Abrahamic religions so it's okay not to be afraid", I found it a little patronising.

This OTOH is an interesting TV show. It's a doco about how the new Islamic Sharia Courts work in Nigeria. Lots of good footage of radical Islamic judges with really wacky ideas, an interesting peek into the backwaters of Nigeria, and quite a suprisingly balanced view of Sharia in the end.
posted by dydecker at 4:37 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, I think his show was packaged for America though and Louis Theroux is packaged for Britain. If you watch the "Kitchen Nightmares," the British version is geared way way differently than the US version even though it's the same show. If there was a better show than Spurlock's that I knew of I would've linked to it... personally, I'm not big on the cartoons & stuff. But I am not quite sure how you could find Spurlock's show more patronizing than this Make Me A Muslim thing, though. My point is simply that I think his show was done better and not as negatively... but not that I think it's perfect. I did find it less disrespectful than this Channel 4 crap, though.
posted by miss lynnster at 4:56 PM on December 26, 2007


Oh, and thanks for the link. I'll check that out.
posted by miss lynnster at 4:57 PM on December 26, 2007


five fresh fish: I'd go for that show! (legally & born Muslim, went through Pagan periods, now something of a Universist)

When I was on my world tour, I was fortunate to go on a two-day tour about world religions in Belgium. I visited a Holocaust holding cell, a Hare Krishna house, a Muslim community centre (with a side tour of their in-construction mosque), a Freethinkers/Humanist centre, and a synagogue. (Another similar group visited a Buddhist temple and a Catholic church instead of the Muslims and Freethinkers.) Our small group of sorta-Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, agnostic/atheistic, and who knows what debated philosophy, religion, and culture with each group (the biggest debates were with the Freethinkers - we objected to their idea that just having a religion makes you manipulated, and we weren't all particularly religious). We learnt a lot about how each community lives and survives in Belgium, and learnt more about their faith than we ever would otherwise.

I was particularly in awe of the synagogue. Coming from Malaysia, where it's practically a crime to be Jewish, I've always wanted to learn more about Jewish culture but never had the chance. In the synagogue we were greeted by a lovely warm lady who answered all our questions on faith, symbolism, and life in Belgium. She then told us that she, the Freethinker group leader, and the Catholic priest (an older woman and two young men) were close friends and often met up for discussions and tea. Now that is religious unity.

I was very surprised when we visited a Turkish mosque in the Netherlands and they didn't seem to mind non-Muslims coming in. In Malaysia, that would never happen.
posted by divabat at 4:58 PM on December 26, 2007


dydecker writes "This OTOH is an interesting TV show"

Indeed it is , thanks for posting it. I had to stop believing I was watching a cross between Chris Rock , Eddy Murphy and Judge Dread, because it is the way some people feel justice should be administered. But mine is a nervous laughter, glad to be far away from that court.
posted by elpapacito at 5:30 PM on December 26, 2007


Okay, so I watched the Shari'ah documentary. Thing that hasn't been explained though, and I think it should've been a lot clearer, is that Shari-ah is different in every community and every country. What is considered social law in Saudi Arabia is not in Egypt. Likewise, up until recently it was Shari'ah that Egyptian girls be circumcised (they thought it was in the Quran. It isn't) but now it is illegal, and that wasn't common in other Islamic countries outside of Africa. So going to that court was interesting but it really doesn't have much to do with what Shari'ah would be in England.

Likewise, when he schooled her on not wearing the hijab... in truth, just like FGM, the Quran does NOT state women are supposed to wear it. That was decreed by Hadith oral traditions, all of which were created by male leaders. A lot of Muslims can't read Arabic and have never even read the Quran, so they are trusting oral tradition about what's actually in it... so other people are interpreting it to instruct their community on how they want them to behave. Thirty years ago in Egypt, women did not wear hijab... if you did you would stand out. Now it is rare for women to feel socially comfortable going without it because the social pressure has totally changed. It is more of a fashion statement now than anything. (Once again, this is coming from what I've been told repeatedly by Egyptian people. I don't live there.)

I have yet to see a documentary that really makes a lot of those things very clear, though.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:22 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


The main issue one runs into is what's actually in the religion vs. what's being practiced. The acute problem we see now is that those who really, deeply, care about their faiths tend to be the nuttiest ones.

It could reasonably be argued that British or American law, with very slight modifications, could be considered valid Sharia law vis a vis the Quran, where the principal concern is justice and community agreement. However, the only types of people in Britain actually pushing for any sort of Shariah law are, to be indelicate, fruitcakes of the highest order. Thus, what the average Briton (Muslim or not) considers Sharia law to be is something akin to actual 9th century jurisprudence rather then the spirit of the Quran's empahsis on justice and community mores being upheld. Those "moderate Muslims" we all hear about are rather too much like "moderate Christians' in that they do not identify in the least with the extremists, and their concerns are much more driven by economic and family needs then by religious ones. Thus, there's no real incentive to stand up against the nuts and "take back" something they're not sure they want in the first place.
posted by cell divide at 8:41 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Meh. We've got the First Nations "Shariah" law, and it seems to be working well enough in its areas of application. In real life, it seems that sometimes locking people up isn't always the best thing for a community. Maybe I'm woefully uninformed, but I'm not aware of any great controversy over allowing tribal communities to deal their tribal community crimes in some cases.

The courts decide the legality of the crime: the tribe decides the consequences for the crime. AFAIK there isn't a terrible recidivation rate; indeed, it wouldn't surprise me if it's better at re-integrating members back into the community, such that they can go on to lead better, positive lives in a way that contributes back to the community.

It does require a court system that's at least somewhat sensible, though. Too, I'm pretty sure it's a fairly select set of transgressors who get the benefit of an alternative consequences system. For starters, I'm pretty sure the community itself would make a pleading to the court.

Where Shariah law may fail to be integratable is in its treatment of human rights. I don't think the West is going to give up on equality of opportunity and of personal rights any time soon. We're moving toward a progressive/permissive society, not a regressive/repressive one.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:00 PM on December 26, 2007


And of course, we get a First Nations form of Sharia because we recognize they have a legitimate claim to operate as a distinct political organization somewhere between that of a Province and that of a City. And given that we've tribal nations older than most of our cities, it seems reasonable to expect some sort of compromise to take place.

Come to think of it, if the population trends in Europe continue as they are, it's very likely that it'll be WASPs seeking First Nation status.

Pauline Christianity is an aberration. The Jews and the Moslems, and whatever sect of Christianity, have it right: One God, Many Prophets. Recognition of that, and acceptance of a trinity of faiths, would go one helluva long way to generating some peace in this world.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:17 PM on December 26, 2007


Divabat: I was very surprised when we visited a Turkish mosque in the Netherlands and they didn't seem to mind non-Muslims coming in. In Malaysia, that would never happen.

This is because Islam is the dominant religion in Malaysia (where about 60% practice Islam). Generally speaking, the more dominant Islam is in a country, the less tolerant and open-minded it tends to be in that country.

(I have a feeling that someone will probably point out that the same is somehow true for fundamentalist Christians, but I think it is in general not true for most other major religions, including Christianity. Note also that no other religion proposes special taxes for non-believers, like Sharia law does).
posted by sour cream at 12:45 PM on December 27, 2007


sour cream: Actually, for a majority Muslim country, Malaysia is surprisingly liberal religion-wise. Multiculturalism rules the day. The problem is that a few noisy people are anal and conservative and follow certain rules a bit too literally. There's also tense race relations that makes things difficult.

Bangladesh is also majority Muslim (about 95%) and they're so much MORE tolerant and open-minded. You don't have to wear a headscarf (it's uncommon), you can hang out at anyone's house, you can do whatever really.

It's more a culture thing than anywhere else. Within Sunni Islam there are about 4 schools of thought regarding practices and they vary in orthodoxy. Bangladesh's is very liberal; Malaysia's is most strict (Middle East is slightly less strict).
posted by divabat at 4:02 PM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


In light of what I was saying upthread about Allah being a general word meaning "god," not just the Islamic god, I guess there's a big row going on in Malaysia right now about just this topic:

"A church and Christian newspaper in Malaysia are suing the government after it decreed that the word "Allah" can only be used by Muslims. In the Malay language "Allah" is used to mean any god, and Christians say they have used the term for centuries. Opponents of the ban say it is unconstitutional and unreasonable."...
posted by miss lynnster at 9:31 PM on December 30, 2007


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