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Can Iranian movie 'Muhammad' alter Islam's violent image?

Daneshmand

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Can Iranian movie ′Muhammad′ alter Islam′s violent image?

An Iranian biopic of Muhammad aims to project a positive image of Islam and provide a counter-narrative to the religion's extremist interpretations. But can the movie succeed in dispelling the dominant discourse?



"The more movies that are made about the prophet's life, the better," said Majid Majidi, the director of the high-budget biopic "Muhammad: Messenger of God" at Montreal's world film festival on Friday, August 28. The first part of the planned trilogy, which opened to packed cinema houses in Iran on August 27, captures the time before the birth of the Islamic prophet more than 1,400 years ago, and his childhood.

The acclaimed Iranian director, famous for his film "Children of Heaven," has taken pains to show the "rightful image of Islam." The 171-minute movie, which premiered both in Iran and internationally last week, cost the Oscar-nominated director $40 million (36 million euros) and seven years of hard work. But will he be able to alter the tainted image of Islam and its prophet through his movie?

"I decided to make this film to fight against the new wave of Islamophobia in the West. The Western interpretation of Islam is full of violence and terrorism," Majidi told Hezbollah Line, a conservative Iranian magazine.

Filmmaker Majidi: 'I decided to make this film to fight against the new wave of Islamophobia in the West'

The creators of the film have made it clear that "Muhammad" aims at changing the dominant narrative about the prophet of Islam globally, particularly in the West. Rightly or wrongly, Islam has become synonymous with terrorist groups like al Qaeda, "Islamic State" and the Taliban, and with intolerance and extremism.

The memory of the jihadist attack on the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, which killed 12 people, including the magazine's editors, is still fresh in the West. The fact thatCharlie Hebdo was targeted for publishing "blasphemous" Muhammad cartoons seemed to prove to a lot of people that Muslims did not believe in a rational discourse.

Hence, Majidi's effort is commendable. He wants to build a counter-narrative about Islam and its prophet through art. He wants to indulge in a creative exercise to convince non-Muslims that Islam is a religion of peace and that massacring Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, and burning effigies and vandalizing public property in reaction to anti-Islam movies like "Innocence of Muslims" would only strengthen the impression that Muslims believe in violence.

Sensitivity

Negative comments about or satirical depictions of Islam or Muhammad anger Muslims around the world. Any pictorial representation of the prophet is considered un-Islamic and blasphemous, particularly in the majority Sunni sect of Islam.

In 1989, Iran's former religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, prompting the calling for the death of British author Salman Rushdie for writing a controversial novel, "The Satanic Verses," which many Muslims believe demeaned Muhammad.

In 1993, Bangladeshi author Tasleema Nasreen wrote a novel, "Lajja," which offended many Muslims on the Indian sub-continent. The author had to go into hiding in India because of death threats by Bangladeshi Muslim groups.

Muslims also protested widely in 2005 when a Danish newspaperJyllands-Posten published satirical cartoons depicting the prophet of Islam by Danish artist Kurt Westergaard.

A bold effort

Irrespective of how the West will receive the movie, and whether it will be able to change any perceptions about Islam, Majidi's effort is extremely courageous. Although Shiite Iran is more tolerant about depictions, even then it is a bold effort by Majidi. Therefore, "Muhammad" is also about Islam's internal conflict about reason and rationality.

A number of Sunni scholars have demanded a ban on the film, which shows a boy-actor playing the prophet's character from behind.

"This matter is already settled. Shariah prohibits embodying the prophets," said Professor Abdel Fattah Alawari, dean of the Islamic theology faculty at Egypt's Al-Azhar university.

"It is not permissible in Islam [because an actor] has contradictory and conflicting roles; sometimes we see him as a blind drunk, sometimes as a womanizer...and then he embodies a prophet... This is not permissible," he told the Reuters news agency.

Masoud Ferasati, a famous Iranian film critic, has also criticized the film. "The film by Majidi is unclear and disturbing," he said, adding that the costumes, performers and set do not fit into the culture of the times shown in the movie.

The most expensive movie made in Iran but it's priceless as it aims to reclaim the rightful image of Islam. #Muhammad pic.twitter.com/PuhkpmJiPH
— Fatimah (@lauryou1907) August 29, 2015

But Dwayne Ryan Menezes, scholar of religious history at the University of Cambridge, has a different take on the reactions to these kinds of movies. "The approach religious people choose for dealing with such films speaks more about the strength and maturity of their faith than their retributive aggression. A much better approach would be to patronize and heap publicity on the works that promote their religions in the correct light and serve to help the cause of inter-faith harmony," Menezes told DW.

However, Tehran-based poet and scholar Iftikhar Arif believes that most religious people, whether they belong to Islam, Christianity or any other religion, are sensitive about their faith. "The reaction is not peculiar to Muslims. When Martin Scorsese made 'The Last Temptation of Christ,' many extremist Christian groups protested against Scorsese and the film," Arif told DW.

Iran, leading the way

It seems like the Iranians are leading the way in the Muslim world when it comes to promoting the "soft image" of Islam to the rest of the world. "The Message," a 1976 movie directed by Syrian-American filmmaker Moustapha Akkad, was a huge success with Shiite Iranians. According to news reports, Majidi's film, too, has done very well at the Iranian box-office, and sold out prior to its release.

Photos: #Iran-ian Moviegoers Queue Up to Watch #Muhammad (PBUH) Photos: Photos: Iranian Moviegoers Queue Up to Watch Muhammad (PBUH)pic.twitter.com/V0FVaA7X99
— Tasnim News Agency (@Tasnimnews_EN) August 30, 2015

"I think this film can be a starting point of research for those who don't know Islam," 21-year-old Abolfazl Fatehi, who watched the film in a theater in Tehran, told the AFP news agency.

Mehdi Azar, a 25-year-old worker at an Iranian cinema, said "it's a long movie and that might seem a turn-off at first, but it's attractive enough to draw an audience. It was very attractive visually."

Despite praise for the film, the issue remains whether "Muhammad" can challenge the dominant discourse and perception about the prophet and his religion. As long as the media is flooded by reports of jihadist beheadings and suicide bombings in Muslim countries as well as the West, one or two movies might not be able to change the opinion about Islam. The political and social realities in Islamic countries would perhaps be more useful.
 

hussain0216

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Forget the image


Dont be so concerned

Allah will guide who he wills, look how much people have converted to islam in the last few years, common stories revolve around them wanting to find out about islam after all the recent world events

One way or the other islam is becoming the worlds largest faith as per uts destined path



Dont be so concerned what others think
 

dravidianhero

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Forget the image


Dont be so concerned

Allah will guide who he wills, look how much people have converted to islam in the last few years, common stories revolve around them wanting to find out about islam after all the recent world events

One way or the other islam is becoming the worlds largest faith as per uts destined path



Dont be so concerned what others think
People who convert are generally those who are going through mental depression...as soon as they come out of it they realise what a horrible mistake they made and leave Islam.

I myself am an example of it..I converted to Islam in 2005 and reverted back to Hinduism in 2006 after I did a good deep research of Islam and found it is nothing but..... leave it.
 

hussain0216

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People who convert are generally those who are going through mental depression...as soon as they come out of it they realise what a horrible mistake they made and leave Islam.

I myself am an example of it..I converted to Islam in 2005 and reverted back to Hinduism in 2006 after I did a good deep research of Islam and found it is nothing but..... leave it.
:rofl:

Islam is one of the most conversionary faiths in the world

People flock to this faith our mosques are full of new muslims, old muslims, black and white muslims

It has a very powerful core messsge that will always enlightenment and inspire people



Your mental illness took you back to worshipping idols and obscenities not the other way around

Like Lauren Booth, why ARE modern British career women converting to Islam? | Daily Mail Online
 

war&peace

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Islam is rising. Here in local mosque in Atlanta, every Friday after Jumma prayer, there are 2-10 people who take their Shahada. By the way, how come they make such a movie because making an image of the holy Prophet is blasphemous and highly condemnable act.
 

bdslph

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well i dont think it will help
much haters will hate

but i got to know the picture what is it depicts is it the prophet
 

Talwar e Pakistan

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People who convert are generally those who are going through mental depression...as soon as they come out of it they realise what a horrible mistake they made and leave Islam.

I myself am an example of it..I converted to Islam in 2005 and reverted back to Hinduism in 2006 after I did a good deep research of Islam and found it is nothing but..... leave it.
The smarter Pagans in Saudi Arabia converted, who were smart enough to know that worshipping fire and stones is better then worshipping cows and 6 legged animal mutant hybrid statues; and that cow piss is not holy. Those who REALLY do DEEP research; whether they are Atheist or christian ; 80% of them convert. My perspectives on Islam was based on US media and internet; so i became agnostic. Once i really did research, i've found that nothing can challenge Islam; it has no mistake. You lying nobody.

Can Iranian movie ′Muhammad′ alter Islam′s violent image?

An Iranian biopic of Muhammad aims to project a positive image of Islam and provide a counter-narrative to the religion's extremist interpretations. But can the movie succeed in dispelling the dominant discourse?



"The more movies that are made about the prophet's life, the better," said Majid Majidi, the director of the high-budget biopic "Muhammad: Messenger of God" at Montreal's world film festival on Friday, August 28. The first part of the planned trilogy, which opened to packed cinema houses in Iran on August 27, captures the time before the birth of the Islamic prophet more than 1,400 years ago, and his childhood.

The acclaimed Iranian director, famous for his film "Children of Heaven," has taken pains to show the "rightful image of Islam." The 171-minute movie, which premiered both in Iran and internationally last week, cost the Oscar-nominated director $40 million (36 million euros) and seven years of hard work. But will he be able to alter the tainted image of Islam and its prophet through his movie?

"I decided to make this film to fight against the new wave of Islamophobia in the West. The Western interpretation of Islam is full of violence and terrorism," Majidi told Hezbollah Line, a conservative Iranian magazine.

Filmmaker Majidi: 'I decided to make this film to fight against the new wave of Islamophobia in the West'

The creators of the film have made it clear that "Muhammad" aims at changing the dominant narrative about the prophet of Islam globally, particularly in the West. Rightly or wrongly, Islam has become synonymous with terrorist groups like al Qaeda, "Islamic State" and the Taliban, and with intolerance and extremism.

The memory of the jihadist attack on the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, which killed 12 people, including the magazine's editors, is still fresh in the West. The fact thatCharlie Hebdo was targeted for publishing "blasphemous" Muhammad cartoons seemed to prove to a lot of people that Muslims did not believe in a rational discourse.

Hence, Majidi's effort is commendable. He wants to build a counter-narrative about Islam and its prophet through art. He wants to indulge in a creative exercise to convince non-Muslims that Islam is a religion of peace and that massacring Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, and burning effigies and vandalizing public property in reaction to anti-Islam movies like "Innocence of Muslims" would only strengthen the impression that Muslims believe in violence.

Sensitivity

Negative comments about or satirical depictions of Islam or Muhammad anger Muslims around the world. Any pictorial representation of the prophet is considered un-Islamic and blasphemous, particularly in the majority Sunni sect of Islam.

In 1989, Iran's former religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, prompting the calling for the death of British author Salman Rushdie for writing a controversial novel, "The Satanic Verses," which many Muslims believe demeaned Muhammad.

In 1993, Bangladeshi author Tasleema Nasreen wrote a novel, "Lajja," which offended many Muslims on the Indian sub-continent. The author had to go into hiding in India because of death threats by Bangladeshi Muslim groups.

Muslims also protested widely in 2005 when a Danish newspaperJyllands-Posten published satirical cartoons depicting the prophet of Islam by Danish artist Kurt Westergaard.

A bold effort

Irrespective of how the West will receive the movie, and whether it will be able to change any perceptions about Islam, Majidi's effort is extremely courageous. Although Shiite Iran is more tolerant about depictions, even then it is a bold effort by Majidi. Therefore, "Muhammad" is also about Islam's internal conflict about reason and rationality.

A number of Sunni scholars have demanded a ban on the film, which shows a boy-actor playing the prophet's character from behind.

"This matter is already settled. Shariah prohibits embodying the prophets," said Professor Abdel Fattah Alawari, dean of the Islamic theology faculty at Egypt's Al-Azhar university.

"It is not permissible in Islam [because an actor] has contradictory and conflicting roles; sometimes we see him as a blind drunk, sometimes as a womanizer...and then he embodies a prophet... This is not permissible," he told the Reuters news agency.

Masoud Ferasati, a famous Iranian film critic, has also criticized the film. "The film by Majidi is unclear and disturbing," he said, adding that the costumes, performers and set do not fit into the culture of the times shown in the movie.

The most expensive movie made in Iran but it's priceless as it aims to reclaim the rightful image of Islam. #Muhammad pic.twitter.com/PuhkpmJiPH
— Fatimah (@lauryou1907) August 29, 2015

But Dwayne Ryan Menezes, scholar of religious history at the University of Cambridge, has a different take on the reactions to these kinds of movies. "The approach religious people choose for dealing with such films speaks more about the strength and maturity of their faith than their retributive aggression. A much better approach would be to patronize and heap publicity on the works that promote their religions in the correct light and serve to help the cause of inter-faith harmony," Menezes told DW.

However, Tehran-based poet and scholar Iftikhar Arif believes that most religious people, whether they belong to Islam, Christianity or any other religion, are sensitive about their faith. "The reaction is not peculiar to Muslims. When Martin Scorsese made 'The Last Temptation of Christ,' many extremist Christian groups protested against Scorsese and the film," Arif told DW.

Iran, leading the way

It seems like the Iranians are leading the way in the Muslim world when it comes to promoting the "soft image" of Islam to the rest of the world. "The Message," a 1976 movie directed by Syrian-American filmmaker Moustapha Akkad, was a huge success with Shiite Iranians. According to news reports, Majidi's film, too, has done very well at the Iranian box-office, and sold out prior to its release.

Photos: #Iran-ian Moviegoers Queue Up to Watch #Muhammad (PBUH) Photos: Photos: Iranian Moviegoers Queue Up to Watch Muhammad (PBUH)pic.twitter.com/V0FVaA7X99
— Tasnim News Agency (@Tasnimnews_EN) August 30, 2015

"I think this film can be a starting point of research for those who don't know Islam," 21-year-old Abolfazl Fatehi, who watched the film in a theater in Tehran, told the AFP news agency.

Mehdi Azar, a 25-year-old worker at an Iranian cinema, said "it's a long movie and that might seem a turn-off at first, but it's attractive enough to draw an audience. It was very attractive visually."

Despite praise for the film, the issue remains whether "Muhammad" can challenge the dominant discourse and perception about the prophet and his religion. As long as the media is flooded by reports of jihadist beheadings and suicide bombings in Muslim countries as well as the West, one or two movies might not be able to change the opinion about Islam. The political and social realities in Islamic countries would perhaps be more useful.
First off; our Prophet PBUH specifically told us!, not to make an image out of him, the prophets or Allah.Secondly the depiction of the Prophet in the movie, is VERY inaccurate. This is how the prophet looked like,
10. Physical Looks of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him)
 

KingMamba

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God speed to Iran, find it strange that some Muslims have an issue with this movie but the Iranians surely being Muslims themselves know what they are doing and to what extent they should push the envelope in terms of images.
 

Talwar e Pakistan

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God speed to Iran, find it strange that some Muslims have an issue with this movie but the Iranians surely being Muslims themselves know what they are doing and to what extent they should push the envelope in terms of images.
There are plenty of Muhammad PBUH movies, but depiction of the Prophet is wrong; no matter what.
 

Serpentine

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First off; our Prophet PBUH specifically told us!, not to make an image out of him, the prophets or Allah.Secondly the depiction of the Prophet in the movie, is VERY inaccurate. This is how the prophet looked like,
I find it quite strange. How many times should someone repeat something until some people learn it? 1000 times? 1 million times?

How many times should we say that Prophet's face is NOT depicted in this movie?

Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia has recently said this movie is 'Haram' without even watching it (which is not strange, since Saudis don't have cinemas) and called the movie a 'Majoosi' production, while the only things Saudi Arabia itself has exported to the world are oil and terrorism (coming with a virus of an ideology).

My answer to grand Saudi Mufti:



And everyone else who has 'takfired' this movie without watching it.
 

Secret Service

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People who convert are generally those who are going through mental depression...as soon as they come out of it they realise what a horrible mistake they made and leave Islam.

I myself am an example of it..I converted to Islam in 2005 and reverted back to Hinduism in 2006 after I did a good deep research of Islam and found it is nothing but..... leave it.
where ever you find inner peace... but exceptions are always there.
 

war&peace

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Are you a Takfiri or just ignorant or both?
It is obvious his face is not even showed in the movie, why do you people keep repeating the same none-sense?
For you the whole world is takfiri. Before this incident I was supporting Iran but not anymore and I think this a conspiracy against Iran to alienate it further. Depicting of Holy Prophet any sort of image is a blasphemy and no one will ever side with you on that....not the sufis, barelvis, salafis, wahabis.
 

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