French (Available subtitled in French)
Year of Production: 2018
Duration: 52 min
I grew up in a Muslim country where religion and culture had been at home with each other for many centuries. Oftentimes we couldn’t tell the difference between what was cultural and what was religious. The two respected each other without ever interfering too much in how the other’s garden was tended. It was a time when tolerance was a wise mediator between culture, religion, and individual liberties.
However, as I grew older I sensed a change that was beginning to disturb that long-established order. It started out in schools. The religious were taking more and more space in schools and dictating the programs. First it was religious education classes moving in on philosophy and Arabic classes. Then writers and philosophers of the Enlightenment were gradually forbidden. Men of God also took control of the mosques decreeing how people should live and how they should think. Television started spreading the words of Saudi preachers and their call for a rigorous type of Islam that was a far cry from the religion of our ancestors.
We find ourselves today living with a new interpretation of Islam we don’t even recognize. Once converted to this new Islam, we must destroy our culture, the traditions of our parents, the beautiful colours of our traditional clothes, and make our sworn enemies of past centuries into saints. What we end up with is a simplistic religion that boils everything down to what is “haram” (unlawful) and what is “halal” (lawful). A literal interpretation of our beliefs that leaves almost no room for spirituality, tolerance, and individual liberties.
This auteur film, woven around intimate narration, sets out, first of all, to tell people what true Islam is really means. It’s the religion of sharing, humility, and mysticism I grew up with. The film also goes much further in its quest to tell the story of those who manipulated and distorted Islam to gain political power. The same people who have taken entire civilizations hostage through an austere and deadly interpretation of our teachings and created the terrorism that is tearing the world apart today.
The film tells the story as well of the reform efforts that have begun here and there in the Maghreb countries and the resistance and challenges they face from conservatives and followers of political Islam.
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Les Films Nadiaz inc.