Thursday, June 26, 2014

5 Reasons Why These “Islamic” Movies/Shows Are Anything But

Being a Muslim myself, you’d think I’d be engaged more than usual whenever I watch these so-called “Islamic” movies/TV shows. Well, in a way, that’s true. I do feel more engaged than usual, but thus far it’s all for the wrong reasons; or rather, reasons not intended by the film.

Now, I will fully admit that I haven’t seen all of them, from as far back as Nur Kasih to 7 Petala Cinta. But I have seen the likes of 99 Kali Rindu, horror movies with supposedly Islamic undertones, and I’m very much familiar with the hit television series Tanah Kubur. All of these have a few things in common, and I find it disturbing that these are the things that pass as “Islamic” in our society.

#5 It’s only fabric deep

There seem to be a lot of confusion whether Islamisation and Arabisation are one and the same, or not. While it’s certainly unacceptable for it to happen in the Western world, it’s even more unforgivable that it happens even in Muslim-dominant countries.

It’s a too lengthy for me to discuss the real-life implication of these things, so let’s just focus on the “Islamic” films/shows that I’ve mentioned earlier.

Now; turban, check. Jubah, check. Beard, eyeliner, prayer beads; check check check. Is there a problem with any of these? Nope. Not when you leave them at that. But when they’re used as costume for some poor actor to spew a shitty script written by a broke-ass writer to appease dumb studio execs who condescend to the audience, that’s when we have a problem.

What do I mean by that? Kindly read on.

#4 Improvements can only happen via prayers

Malay Movie Ustazs (MMU) are rarely knowledgeable when it comes to matters of our world. You can count on them if you’re possessed by a ghost or if your house is haunted; they’ll shoot some Shariah-compliant Hadoken and all will be solved.

How come they never taught me this back in ABIM?
But when it comes to everything else, you're shit out of luck 'cause they're nowhere to be found. Sure, you can look for them. But more often than not, the best advice they can give you is pray, and cry while you're at it. They'd never advise you how to get a divorce from an abusive husband; they can't tell you what to do if you're being cheated out of your inheritance; they don't have any advice for anyone starting a business; they don't even make good leaders.

All they do is stay indoors and pray.

"What else are they supposed to do, then?"

Urm, hello? Umar ibn Al-Khattab was as Muslim as they come, yet he never did disregard this world as not being worth his time. It is said that he was an awe-inspiring man; a gifted orator; he took care of the poor and underprivileged; and need I mention that he ran an empire? Also, it can be said that he made peace with Christians and Jews by allowing them into Jerusalem to pray.

How about non-caliph figures, then? We have Ibn Sina, Omar Khayyam, Sharaf al-Din al-Tusi, Muhammad al-Idrissi, and oh-so many others.

What have all these MMUs ever done? Nothing, by comparison. They can't even give a good speech in their own living room. You can argue that they're merely movie characters, so they can't be expected to live up to great Muslim figures in the past. I disagree, but fair enough - just don't call it an Islamic movie then, when it's just a romance or horror film given an "Islamic" coat of paint.

#3 Good people are encouraged to do nothing

They say evil prevails when good men do nothing. The only thing I would add to that saying is, "... when good men do nothing but pray for divine intervention," which seems to be lesson these movies would like to impart on you.

I wouldn't say that values such as patience (sabar) and resignation (pasrah) are bad, not necessarily. But when initiative (ikhtiar) is nowhere in sight, that's when we have a problem. You see, I believe that the order should be like this: pray --- ikhtiar --- pray--- sabar --- ikhtiar --- pray --- sabar, until all else fails, that's when you retreat to pasrah; not simply pray --- sabar --- pasrah!

And by pasrah, what I have in mind is something definite. Like, there's nothing you can do about it (e.g. Hail, earthquake, flood, death, etc). But again, if you have an abusive husband; or you're wrongfully-accused of anything; or your crooked landlord's trying to get you evicted; or somebody's trying to cheat you out of money; or you're being oppressed, etc... then goddammit, do something about it.

It's hardly Islamic to do nothing and feel sorry for yourself, and that's all the characters in these movies do! Sure, it'll work out fine in the end for them because in movies, writers are the "god", and they have the ability to dish out punishments as creatively as possible. Which leads us to #2

#2 Giving human qualities to God

Tanah Kubur is the biggest offender here. You can watch some of the episodes here, but in case you're unaware of what it's about, let's see if I can break it down for you: Tanah Kubur is basically Kisah Benar with Divine Intervention, or perhaps more apt if I were to say that it's some kind of a TV adaptation of the Mastika magazine.

Each episode has a sin (or vice) as its "theme", so to speak. This sin is manifested through a very "unique" character, who then portrays it in the most cartoonish (and heavy-handed) ways as possible. Halfway through the episode, the said character (or sinner) will die, and bizarre things happen during their burial - and it will be up to a local undertaker, Tok Adi (Nasir Bilal Khan), to put the "fun" back in "funeral".

The most disconcerting about Tanah Kubur, for me, mostly revolves around how they project their prejudice onto sinners as if they have no redeeming qualities at all. For example, when a drag queen died, he menstruated out of his orifices; a woman who used black magic in exchange for beauty died with boils on her face; and when a prostitute dies, a snake comes out of her vagina.

Hrmmm... I really don't know, nor would I presume to know. But what I do know is that God is fair and firm, but He certainly isn't vengeful. You see, society would readily punish or at least alienate a prostitute, but as the oft-repeated hadith goes; even a prostitute can be forgiven. Point is, we don't know. What seems unforgivable to you and I, God could easily forgive. So don't pretend to know how He works, and how He dishes out punishments.

Which brings us to #1.

#1 To them, God doesn’t work in mysterious ways

Now, I know they'll shy away from actually answering this by saying that it has nothing to do with money or ratings; that it's only meant for raising awareness, and that we should remember that what we do in life has its effects in the afterlife. Fine, I'm cool with that. But is this really the way? By acting as God's unofficial spokesperson?

'cause that's exactly what Tanah Kubur is doing, and I can't stress this enough: you can't presume how God look at those who have sinned, and how He will dish out punishments - or not. Granted, some people respond to logic, some respond to fear; as Dr. Zakir Naik pointed out. But the implication of Tanah Kubur, it seems to me, is we should always be good lest we'll get our comeuppance as soon as our funeral, and our family and friends will be humiliated.

Sounds like we should fear His wrath more than we should love Him. Sorry, but I can't agree with that.

Bottom line, God does work in mysterious ways. He knows way more than we ever could, and we will never have Him all figured out. So if you'd like to make a TV show that "educates" the public on how to properly conduct themselves, may I suggest that you do so within the capacity of us as human beings? There is one show out there called What Would You Do?, ripe to be ripped off. I suggest you give that a try instead.


mohdsyazwan2010 said...

dulu taski abim atau sekolah abim?

Anonymous said...

An apt observation :)

Funny how some are slighted when these things (which are rather off the path so to speak) are pointed out.

Do these same people then prefer to persist in perpetuating wayward beliefs due to the believe that they're not harmful?

Only that it does.

Mamü Vies said...

Dua-dua. Taski sampai ke sekolah petang.

Hence why I hope this post could spark a healthy debate about these things. Thanks for reading! :)

Anonymous said...

Ive never watched tanah kubur but always thought it's a good tv series.but i agree with ur reviews.the other movies u mentioned r simply bullshit n shouldn't even be produced.

Unknown said...

We are all but in a bullet train accelerating at Buraq-speed to the Club of Doom.

At the end of the day, it's all about bigger audiences and good ratings. Malaysians love this kind of shit because that's how low our intellect has sunk. Putting Islamic elements is sure a hell of a good investment into entertainment bussineses. Go to hell about producers' moral compass. This is an Islamic capitalism, it's halal and shariah-compliant brouhaha.

These so called Islamic Melayus were rioting to fight for a borang penyertaan to join Akademi Fantasia. Hallelujah..

When youngsters fight to become an artist, when the old folks fight for Kilauan Emas, when kanak kanak fight for Bintang Kecil, when the uglies fight for Maharaja Lawak, I know I already lost faith in this pak lebai self-proclaimed Islamic state.

Yet we don't have the audacity to blame for our own destruction and idiocy, but these balls-less bastards know what they know best; pointing fingers to Cina, those Kafirun yahudi etc etc.

Everything just went perfectly wrong to this country. And someone surely will ask me to leave this country for this remark.

Manifestation of Islamic wrapping paper to an entertainment industry is pure evil and nothing but sordid disgrace to the religion itself.


Mamü Vies said...

@Afnan Zainudin

mohdsyazwan2010 said...

dulu pun taskijugak , kat seksyen 24 shah alam

mengenai 'filem islamik', susah nak nilai dlm keadaan kita xde filem yg betul2 boleh jadi panduan atau benchmark

so the closest thing adalah cuba emulate filem dr luar, sbg cth indonesia

laskar pelangi filem plg sesuai utk dijadikan panduan

Anonymous said...

Hi author,

It's a good point of view here, but I'm more interested in point #2 and #1. The show basically shows what will happen if you do sin but not repent about it. Yes it's true that even a prostitute can be forgiven because Allah is the Most Forgiving, but to not repent of when you had done a sin, is what brings anger to Allah. The show basically is about if a person did not repent and when after the sinner die Allah give to the sinner straight punishment in this world(which in reality a rare case?).

I think what Tanah Kubur intend to do is to bring self conscious of what happen if you do something bad, but you do not have the time to repent. To add the spice of the story the punishment is sometime too overrated. Good point of view though

Mamü Vies said...

Hi there :)

I'm sure the show mean well, but that reasoning right there is what I can't agree with;

"You do this and don't repent, this is what will happen to you. You do that and don't repent, then you will be punished that way."

Point is, I'm saying we can't speak on behalf of God, especially when you fictionalise it. What God does (or don't) to you in the afterlife is none of our business, and let's not presume that we know how He works.

But these are just my belief as a human being too, and I welcome others to share their views as well.

Thanks for reading :)

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