When writer-director Qasim Basir penned Mooz-Lum, he had a particular message in mind. His attempt to capture the various facets of the inner workings of a Muslim family trying to live and grow in this Christian society is fascinating and will bring tears to your eyes.
As we follow the story of Tariq (Evan Ross), Safiyah (Nia Long), Hassan (Roger Smith) and his young, impressionable little sister Taqua (Kimberley Drummond) we are introduced to a family trying to hold on to their religious roots in a society that views them as outcasts. We cringe for young Tariq, who’s brilliant inner light is dimmed by an abusive teacher causing him to deny the religion that his father so adamantly forces upon him.
What struck me during this movie, was the depiction of what I like to call, “moments of truth.” There were several during this movie where I personally felt that my worldview, my perception of the world, had changed.
The first happened when Tariq’s mother, Safiyah told her husband she wanted a divorce due to his rigid views on life and lifestyle. From my own stereotypical beliefs, I had always thought that being a Muslim woman meant obeying her husband but this Muslim wife would rather face the world as a single parent than watch her husband’s militant views of the world be pushed upon her children.
The second “moment of truth” happened when Tariq is in college and enticed by his peers to drink alcohol and be a part of the crowd. His disdain for the abuse he suffered at the hands of his religious teacher pushes him to succumb to the peer pressure.
Another moment of truth happened after the recreation of the chaos surrounding the September 11th Attacks. What we see in this movie, after getting to know these Muslim characters and their inner struggles brings tears to our eyes as they are targeted with violence and blamed for the attacks.
While I will not give away the entire plot, this movie is a must-see for anyone who has any preconceptions about what it is like to be Muslim in America. It’s not what you think. It’s more than what you know.
For anyone struggling to define themselves in a world that does not look like them or think like them, this movie may ease some of the pain of isolation. I highly recommend this film as a catalyst for compassion for those who are seen as outcasts.