Recite 'The Fatiha,' Laugh Your Muslim Ass Off
December 11, 2015 9:04 AM   Subscribe

Muslim-owned comedy venue offers "Trump Special," gives free attendance to Muslim-Americans. Mo S. Fathelbab is a Muslim-American and owner of The Experiment Comedy Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He’s offering a ‘Trump Special’ - anyone who can prove that they are Muslim by facing Mecca and reciting ‘The Fatiha’ gets free admission.
posted by chinese_fashion (45 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
For anyone who wants to fake it, face east, turn 31° to your left, and recite

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِِ
الْحَمْدُ للّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِي
الرَّحْمـنِ الرَّحِيمِ
مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ
إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِي
اهدِنَــــا الصِّرَاطَ المُستَقِيمَ
صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنعَمتَ عَلَيهِمْ غَيرِ المَغضُوبِ عَلَيهِمْ وَلاَ الضَّالِّينَ
posted by zompist at 9:14 AM on December 11, 2015 [43 favorites]


A public accommodation charging non-Muslims cover while admitting Muslims for free violates the NYC Human Rights Law. Significant fines.
posted by MattD at 9:18 AM on December 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


For anyone who wants to fake it, face east, turn 31° to your left

Good call, zompist. I picked the wrong day to leave my astrolabe in my other trousers.
posted by dr_dank at 9:20 AM on December 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Matt: I think that at a time when a presidential candidate is seriously arguing that we should withhold freedom itself from Muslims, allowing them to see a play without paying $15 is the least we could do.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:21 AM on December 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Prove you are [X religion] by performing your devotional rites" is a really unfortunate way to go about it. Shibboleths rarely turn out nicely for the oppressed in the long run. In this case, they would miss many victims of anti-Muslim prejudice (secular Muslims, non-Muslims from Muslim-majority countries, members of ethnicities commonly mistaken for Muslims e.g. Sikhs). Why not have a night where the ticket revenues are donated to a charity that advocates for Muslim rights, religious freedom, etc.? Then everyone can play a symbolic part in the venue owners' admirable effort to eliminate prejudice.
posted by dendrochronologizer at 9:21 AM on December 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Cue in The Rug saying there are cellars in America, Brooklyn, even, you can only get in if you are a Muslim, and where they plot against hard-working americans like him.

Really, that blowhard at this rate doesn't even need Campaign expenses. He'll just say something even more outrageous, the "THAT'S IT, WE'LL STOP MENTIONING TRUMP" press will give all headlines. Again.
posted by lmfsilva at 9:22 AM on December 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I guess it's impossible for the owner of a comedy club to be doing this for the attention and/or as a joke, then?
posted by rtha at 9:26 AM on December 11, 2015 [11 favorites]


I picked the wrong day to leave my astrolabe in my other trousers.

I guess you really are happy to see me, then.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:30 AM on December 11, 2015 [18 favorites]


I guess it's impossible for the owner of a comedy club to be doing this for the attention and/or as a joke, then?

Like Trump then?
posted by dendrochronologizer at 9:30 AM on December 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


A public accommodation charging non-Muslims cover while admitting Muslims for free violates the NYC Human Rights Law. Significant fines.


I guess since the owner specifically said muslim-american this might be a problem; but if they had just said "anyone who can come and properly preform the faitha gets in free." would it still be an issue? It's basically a password or "tell them sal sent you! get 50% off" at that point.
posted by mayonnaises at 9:39 AM on December 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


For anyone who wants to fake it, face east, turn 31° to your left...

Your Great-Circle interpretation won't fly with the Rhumb-Line traditionalists who will turn 11° to the right of east!
posted by cardboard at 9:41 AM on December 11, 2015


I think the joke here is that there is no real way to prove that you are or are not Muslim - despite Trump's insistence. So he's going with this complicated "Sal sent you" password instead.

You guys must have run out of beans.
posted by chinese_fashion at 9:46 AM on December 11, 2015 [16 favorites]


A public accommodation charging non-Muslims cover while admitting Muslims for free violates the NYC Human Rights Law. Significant fines.

"Prove you are [X religion] by performing your devotional rites" is a really unfortunate way to go about it. Shibboleths rarely turn out nicely for the oppressed in the long run.


Clearly this is an incommensurate response to Donald Trump's reasonable and lawful policy proposals
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:46 AM on December 11, 2015 [15 favorites]


> Like Trump then?

No? But if you don't know the difference I'm not sure I can help.
posted by rtha at 9:47 AM on December 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


According to this open letter (probably good fpp material actually if it hasn't been done yet), "Quintessentially in Islam, anyone who says: ‘There is no god but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God’ is a Muslim and cannot be declared a non-Muslim." (on p 9). No facing Mecca needed!
posted by kenko at 9:55 AM on December 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


According to this open letter (probably good fpp material actually if it hasn't been done yet), "Quintessentially in Islam, anyone who says: ‘There is no god but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God’ is a Muslim and cannot be declared a non-Muslim." (on p 9). No facing Mecca needed!

I think you're muddling the Fatiha with the Shahada.
posted by Emma May Smith at 10:10 AM on December 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Well this would only out me as a shitty Muslim (a fact that is...super apparent on any close acquaintance with me) because I know the first two lines and then mumble the rest. I am definitely not the only Muslim in this position. I can, however, recite the shahada from memory! (This is the lowest of bars.)

Anyway, I take this in the spirit in which it is intended: a sharp joke, and commentary on how it's more or less impossible to "prove" someone is a Muslim, because Islam's barrier to entry is super low! You recite the shahada, and that's it. I mean, you're supposed to mean it, obviously. But how is anyone supposed to judge your true sincerity? You're supposed to participate in the five pillars of Islam and all too, but those are technically a work-in-progress kind of thing you work on throughout your life.
posted by yasaman at 10:15 AM on December 11, 2015 [16 favorites]


... anyone who can prove that they are Muslim by facing Mecca and reciting ‘The Fatiha’ gets free admission.

How-many-drinks minimum?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:18 AM on December 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well this would only out me as a shitty Muslim (a fact that is...super apparent on any close acquaintance with me) because I know the first two lines and then mumble the rest. I am definitely not the only Muslim in this position.

There are many people in this exact position, in fact! I'm imagining the people who would be outed as shitty Christians if the bar to entry was "Recite the Apostle's Creed", or shitty Jews if the bar to entry was "Recite the Shabbat blessing".

Which . . . I think was the point of this stunt, as was said upthread.
posted by chainsofreedom at 10:20 AM on December 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Anyway, I take this in the spirit in which it is intended: a sharp joke, and commentary on how it's more or less impossible to "prove" someone is a Muslim, because Islam's barrier to entry is super low!

Yeah I think this is super clear to anyone who bothered to click through the link. At least I would think.
posted by sweetkid at 10:21 AM on December 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


It violates the Human Rights Law even to say that you're doing it, to say the least of doing it. If someone complains, he's already liable to the fine.
posted by MattD at 10:24 AM on December 11, 2015


I think you're muddling the Fatiha with the Shahada.

I think I'm offering a different interpretation, with the endorsement of scholars, for how to answer the question "is this person Muslim?".
posted by kenko at 10:32 AM on December 11, 2015


For Christians of all stripes, the Lord's Prayer would probably be the best thing to pick. That one's fairly universal. If I were targeting American fundamentalists specifically, a recitation of John 3:16 (bonus points for using the KJV) and maybe Psalms 23 too, since John 3:16 isn't much to remember on its own.
posted by honestcoyote at 10:34 AM on December 11, 2015


People will only complain if white bloggers get a hold of it and turn it into a reverse racism thing, llke the PoC yoga thing in Seattle.
posted by sweetkid at 10:36 AM on December 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think you're muddling the Fatiha with the Shahada.

Reciting the shahada with sincerity is the thing that makes you a Muslim, kind of like the lowest entry bar to Christianity being "accepting Jesus Christ as your lord and savior." Reciting the fatiha is like asking a Christian to recite the Lord's Prayer: it's something most followers would/should know, but not necessarily, and it's no guarantee of actually being that religion.
posted by yasaman at 10:39 AM on December 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


It violates the Human Rights Law even to say that you're doing it, to say the least of doing it. If someone complains, he's already liable to the fine.

Then someone should go after Trump first.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:47 AM on December 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I just saw a promotion by Red Robin where if you had some version of "Chris" or "Nicholas" in your name you got free burgers at Red Robin because your name is like Santa Claus. I was like hmmmm that would mostly limit you to people of Christian faith or background. And you had to prove your name through ID.
posted by sweetkid at 10:59 AM on December 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah I think this is super clear to anyone who bothered to click through the link.

I am pretty sure that, if you clicked the link, Trump and his followers think you are a Muslim. Especially if you are not as pale as them.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:16 AM on December 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Trump and his followers think you are a Muslim

I'm sure they'll take 'external activist' or 'bleeding heart terrorist sympathiser' as a backup.
posted by jaduncan at 11:46 AM on December 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


A public accommodation charging non-Muslims cover while admitting Muslims for free violates the NYC Human Rights Law. Significant fines.

I'd argue that they're saying in exchange for the patron engaging in an artistic performance called "prove you're muslim" (defined as a specific, two-step performance including bodily movements and a memorized script), the venue will compensate the patron/performer with free admission to the venue. It's an exchange of performance art for valid consideration, not price discrimination on the basis of religion.
posted by melissasaurus at 11:50 AM on December 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


For anyone who wants to fake it

Impossible! NO ONE could POSSIBLY claim to be Muslim while actually having almost nothing to do with Islam
posted by shakespeherian at 12:30 PM on December 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Trump should get a free pass to every single show. And be forced to attend. It would do him some good to get out every once in awhile, see what's going on in the world.
posted by chavenet at 12:33 PM on December 11, 2015


I'm glad I know about this troupe. I'm going to go to a show, and pay, so I can support Muslim American comedians doing their thing like all Americans should be free to do.

I'm 100% sure this is the actual point being made.
posted by sweetkid at 12:35 PM on December 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


UM EXCUSE ME MR. SWIFT, ARE YOU AWARE THAT EATING POOR CHILDREN IS ACTUALLY ILLEGAL?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:35 PM on December 11, 2015 [33 favorites]


I love this idea. Good for Mr. Fathelbab.

It's an exchange of performance art for valid consideration, not price discrimination on the basis of religion.

"Prove you're a Muslim" feels very much like a religious litmus test to me, and yeah, businesses in NYC can't discriminate against people who are or are not members of a specific religious group. I don't think 'it's performance art' would cut it as a legal defense. I mean, once a commercial business says 'prove you're a member of a specific religion and we'll reward you' -- even if the test itself can't "prove" anything since anyone could memorize and recite a prayer -- they're showing favoritism to people from that religion. It's a weird legal leg to lean on. The test is clearly arbitrary and as a result ultimately meaningless, but the reward isn't. Plus, US banks like Citigroup have been accommodating American Muslims with interest-free loans and credit cards for decades. So maybe there's a bit of a positive legal precedent?

Interesting stuff.
posted by zarq at 12:36 PM on December 11, 2015


And if you weren't a Muslim, by golly, you are now!

What would happen if one recited the Fatiha and then, immediately following that, an equivalent for a different religion (or, failing that, took a bite out of a bacon sandwich and washed it down with a beer)? Would that nullify one's conversion, or would one just be a heretical/apostate Muslim, incurring the wrath of anti-Muslim bigots and Islamists alike?
posted by acb at 12:37 PM on December 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Since it's "prove to the owner that you're a Muslim" I'd say, just don't do it where he'd notice. :)

Personally, as a non-Muslim I say the best thing anyone could do is go and pay the entry fee. Help support the business. Rather than trying to put one over on a good guy taking a much-needed public stand against hatred and bigotry.
posted by zarq at 12:42 PM on December 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


honestcoyote: For Christians of all stripes, the Lord's Prayer would probably be the best thing to pick. That one's fairly universal.

Also a handy Catholic/Protestant Sub-Sorting Mechanism.
posted by Morfil Ffyrnig at 1:04 PM on December 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Especially at Catholic weddings, where the Protestant apostates just blunder on with "For thiinnnne is the . . . damn it." It's like a big neon sign over your head!
posted by chainsofreedom at 1:51 PM on December 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


For New Yorkers (or nearby New Jerseyans), the venue is hosting a standup night of Muslim comics on Monday.
posted by retrograde at 6:27 PM on December 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


If that makes me a muslim, then I'd be an apostate afterwards and a significant portion of muslims worldwide would believe I should be put to death.

That is funny.
posted by jpe at 6:41 PM on December 11, 2015


jpe: there are plenty of Muslims who don't give a fuck if you're an apostate and are eternally frustrated by laws restricting faith.

I won a trip to Vancouver one time and my mum & I got put up in Ramada Hotel. We wondered if the name was connected to Ramadan, and when we were told it was (the founder is Muslim) we told him we're Muslim too. He asked me to read a sheet of paper that said Bismillah, so I did, and he was pretty stoked. The hotel was already free, but we might have gotten a discount otherwise.

(I've also gotten a discount at Church's in Oakland when I recognized the manager was Bangladeshi and spoke to her in Bangla. This happens a fair bit with minorities - they're so relieved to see someone like them.)
posted by divabat at 8:53 PM on December 11, 2015


Good for Mr. Fathelbab.

The question about whether this violates NYC human rights law is interesting. This pretty clearly seems like an act of political speech to me, and so I would think this would be protected on First Amendment grounds, regardless of city law. Can any legal professionals comment?
posted by biogeo at 10:20 PM on December 11, 2015


geez people this is introductory Islam 001 here, you need to know it before you can enrol in 101. Yes, the shahada is the pronunciation of faith, whereas Al Fatiha is the first surah in the Quran. Surahs are organized from longest to shortest, with the exception of Al Fatiha, which is pretty short. You're supposed to recite a surah in prayer, and Al Fatiha is always recited. On top of that, the bismillah at its beginning is also the beginning of several other surahs.

The joke is that if you don't know Al Fatiha, ur def not Muslim. Whereas if you do know Al Fatiha, haha everyone knows that. Heck, I know it and have memorized it, it's a lovely piece of poetry with some very neat layers of meaning. Also very helpful when visiting exhibitions of Middle Eastern art since it's everywhere.
posted by fraula at 4:27 AM on December 12, 2015


Also – an even better example from Christianity that's known as well by non-Christians would be John 3:16. Pretty sure a lot of non-Christian Mefites are groaning just seeing it. Congratulations, you have understood Al Fatiha in the Arabic-speaking world.
posted by fraula at 4:41 AM on December 12, 2015


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