Me and Mooz-Lum

**Spoiler Alert: if you haven’t seen Mooz-Lum some of the plot is discussed below**

I didn’t have any idea that I would watch the movie Mooz-Lum and leave the theater literally on the verge of tears.

The story in a nutshell is about a boy named Tareq who is heading off to college, and while he is going through his first few weeks of school, he has flashbacks of different experiences in his life. We learn that Tareq had a strict upbringing due to an authoritarian father. Tareq gets sent to a Quran school where he is abused and that basically sets up his negative perception of Islam. However, as the film progresses you see positive Muslim roles in the film who are trying to reach out to him. In the end Tareq seems to have come to some peace with his identity, but you’re still left wondering.

There was something so intense in the storyline, something that felt sort of hidden beneath the entire film. And that was this phenomena of Muslims in America and what our identity should be.

I don’t want to get into a religious debate. But for me this was very personal.

It reminded me of my own childhood. Of growing up in a strict religious household where we didn’t have television and were eventually home-schooled because my parents were afraid of us getting influenced by the negative pressures of society.

As a parent now I can look back and see that my parents were young and doing what they thought was best. But I also see that they were highly influenced by the people they spent their time with. This was a time, at least in my opinion, when a very strict interpretation of Islam was the majority here in the United States. It was a version that people often held to be black or white. You either did things a certain way or you weren’t considered to be on the “right path”.

The movie brought out emotions I’ve been bottling up for some time.

Lately I’ve been searching for what it is that I stand for and believe in. I know that I’m Muslim and that I follow Islam, but I admit that most of what I know is what my parents taught me and not what I have tried to learn on my own. I’ve also had plenty of my own negative experiences that have blurred the line between what is Islam and what is people’s misinterpretation.

Mooz-Lum inspired me to actually search deeper within myself.

I feel that it’s my duty now to understand my religion, because I believe once I do, I’ll finally be able to say that I know who I am.

Have any of you had similar experiences, where something made you reflect on your beliefs/values?

Bonus: Click here to read our exclusive interview with the director of Mooz-Lum.

This article has 5 comments

  1. Mariam Sobh

    Noor I don’t think there is a stigma at not having a TV. But when I was growing up it was hard. We were the only family that didn’t have a TV both within the Muslim community and non-Muslim community that we associated with. But these days it seems like it’s the “in” thing to do because there are more studies out and recommendations that children not watch TV before the age of 2 etc.
    As far as hijab goes, I think it’s always going to be a touchy subject. But like you said it’s your personal decision and you have to stand by what you believe in.

    Aminah I never thought of it like that. I will definitely try my best to keep reflecting so I don’t become stagnant in my belief system.

    Hadia the movie is going through film festivals for now, I’m not sure when it will make it into theaters. I think a lot of it depends on how well they (big money makers behind the movie theaters) think it will do.

    Kelly very well said!

  2. Kelly

    Thanks for the review! I personally will be very glad to see it iA. I think anything that gets us to understand ourselves or our deen more is a good tool.

    We do have television, but I often wish we didn’t. Not for religious reasons, but because it’s a huge time sucking machine. Because of that the children cannot watch it on school days.

    As far as religious aspects, two things I love about Islam and I think the “haram police” need to keep in mind:

    1. Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious.” Noble Qur’ân 16:125

    It doesn’t say to tell them they’re wrong and going to hell for xyz. That just irks me.

    2. Islam is not supposed to be hard! Period! I would rather have my children have a love for the deen & Allah swt than to have some words drilled into their heads and not know the true meaning.

    I heard long ago a speech by Farrakhan (yes, I know….) about how Islam spread from the east to the west, and now we’re going to send Islam back like a wave.

    This is simply because here in the US we have an opportunity to practice Islam without all of the cultural baggage that is usually associated with Islam.

  3. Hadia

    Interesting review. Thank you Mariam for sharing. I do look forward to seeing the movie myself. I’ve learned about it via FB and since then I’m quite curious. I don’t know when it will be released in the UK too. If anyone knows, let me know too 😉
    Salaam to everyone,

  4. Aminah

    Sounds interesting. Hope I get a change to view it in my city.

    Every time I’m in a situation that makes me feel uncomfortable or is different that what I’m used to, I always reflect on my beliefs/values. I think this is something we as Muslims should always be doing!

  5. Noor

    Hmm..there seems to be some stigma attached to choosing to forgoe tv in the home. I think it’s mostly crap and therefore don’t have one. However, my children are not deprived of cartoons, movies and entertainment. I do know what you mean about some inflexible ideas among Muslims. I don’t wear hijab and I know for some this is just unacceptable but it’s my faith. It’s not easy being Muslim these days what with all the potent hate that’s been going around. I have deceided not to see this film because I think it’s just something I don’t want to contemplate right now~the feelings attached being too deep for me to dwelve into.

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