Today’s post is a guest post from Abbas Karimjee. Abbas has followed the show Little Mosque on the Prairie from the first season until the show ended after its sixth season. Read more about Abbas at the end but for now enjoy this review of Little Mosque on the Prairie.
Little Mosque on the Prairie addresses the stereotypes and misconceptions about Muslims by providing a more balanced perspective towards the Muslim community. Zarqa Nawaz is the creator of the show and it was produced by Westwind pictures. It concluded back in April 2012 after 6 seasons on CBC.
The show is based largely on the experiences of the show’s creator, Zarqa Nawaz. Through a comedy format the audience is able to see Muslim characters as people who balance their faith with their lives as Canadians while working through typical struggles of life. The show’s use of comedy allows it to explore various societal issues (like being placed on a ‘No Fly’ list, when to wear the hijab, and more) in a light-hearted way.
Actress Arlene Duncan who portrays the vibrant and assertive café owner. Fatema Dinssah, speaks to how this focused yet universal type of storytelling has allowed for her character to be relatable to audiences across the globe. In an interview with me Arlene commented ”I was under the misguided impression, like a lot of people, that Islamic women were generally a very unassuming oppressed group and I think it’s very eye-opening for people to see a character like Fatima, who is so much like your mother, sister, aunt or friend…no matter what religion or culture you might be from. When people recognize me from the show they often comment on how they relate to the things she does or know people who are just like her…”
Non-Muslims also felt connected to the show’s characters in a way which supports Arlene’s view. In a recent interview with a Christian viewer from France, Helene commented that through the show she discovered that Muslims in other countries such as Canada were actually quite well-integrated and successful as opposed to her experiences in interacting with and observing the issues faced by Muslims in France.
“As a French viewer I could hardly believe at first sight in those Middle-class Muslim characters who are all educated and well-integrated(even Baber), who all succeeded in life and all have a good job. Without social problems things always go better, and the French Muslims have precisely a bunch of social problems. On the top of belonging to a religion which has had a bad image in Europe for centuries, they suffer from social discrimination which started far before 9/11 and that 9/11 just made worse.Compared with them, the Muslims depicted in Little Mosque looked pretty favoured”
Because the show was relatable to audiences from other faiths and backgrounds, it attracted a diverse audience and educated viewers about the Islamic faith.
Take a look at the enclosed video from CBC which not only features my perspective as a blogger and a Muslim but also the perspective of non-Muslims as well as the cast and crew on the show’s overall impact, including how it has had practical educational benefits.
Siobhan, a reader on Abbas Karimjee’s Weblog commented to the educational effect of the show.
“I am a non-Muslim living in Scotland… and I’m addicted to Little Mosque on the Prairie! It’s funny, lighthearted, and family friendly and has given me a real insight into Islam. I’m looking forward to season six, and finding out what’s next for Amaar and Rayyan. I’d also love to see more interaction between Baber and Reverend Thorne – they are the two funniest characters, in my book.”
While the show resonated with many, it did have its critics. Creator, Zarqa Nawaz who based the series largely on her own experiences growing up, addressed the issue of the conservative responses she received from both members of the Muslim community as well as right-wing Americans. It is interesting to note that conservative Muslims are against the show’s existence due to its liberal interpretations of Islam [ i.e Zaib Shaikh’s Amaar as a non-bearded imam] while right-wing Americans are against the show because of how it is “softening “ attitudes to prepare America for the next terrorist attack!
Many Muslims viewers also appreciated how they were able to connect with the characters and situations on the show. Batulbanu Dhala, a Muslim reader commented on how she connected with the show stating “Being a Muslim myself I felt attracted to the show and it was so hilarious that I could not stop watching it”
Batulbanu also commented that the show helped communicate a message by modelling a desired outcome of how communicating across boundaries can foster positive interfaith relations.
Given the show’s success in Canada, there has been great interest in shipping it to the United States.This seems to be something many Muslims have thought would help, given the reactions of some Americans towards a more balanced perspective of the Muslim community as seen in the earlier video from CBC well as the perspectives of some viewers
“This is such a fantastic show! I wish it would air in the U.S. as I believe that it would help promote a better understanding of the often misunderstood religion of Islam within my country. Additionally, it also shows how each person regardless of their faith, after all, is human and that we have much in common,” comments Little Mosque fan Nadia on Abbas Karimjee’s Weblog.
Given the demand, the show is available for viewing through Hulu @ http://www.hulu.com/watch/362933.
In summary, Little Mosque on the Prairie can connect with those from a wide range of backgrounds for different reasons and, by focusing on their similarities, model how those from different religious and cultural backgrounds can build strong, healthy ties between their communities, even in instances where there may be negative preconceived notions about one another.
Abbas Karimjee is a 20-year-old Canadian blogger and psychology student. He was raised within the vibrant community of the Greater Toronto area but currently resides in Ottawa.He has been running Abbas Karimjee’s Weblog for nearly 5 years, using it as a platform to formally cover a range of comedy and science fiction shows of personal interest such as Little Mosque on the Prairie, The Office, Modern Family, Stargate Atlantis/Universe ,LOST, and more!
- Changing Communities – Mosques on Prairies [Communicating Across Boundaries]