Little Mosque on the Prairie is a comical show that displays a small community of Muslim people. From watching the first episode, I have a little bit of a jist of what the producers are wanting us as viewers, to realize. This show in itself proves that not all Muslims are terrorists and heartless monsters, but wonderful people that are striving for their religious freedoms as well as living their normal and daily lives.
For the purpose of analyzing this medium, I have chosen two characters from this show to analyze – contrasting it with the documentary, “Reel Bad Arabs.”
For background information, “Reel Bad Arabs” is a documentary pointing out all the stereotypes put on Arabs in Hollywood. Jack Shaheen (who wrote the book, “Reel Bad Arabs) talks about how Hollywood has vilified Arabs as a people group together along side Washington. It’s an amazing documentary that points out the wrong in doing so and the many reasons why Hollywood does it. If you have not already watched this documentary, I highly recommend that you do – as it is a very eye-opening film.
In Little Mosque on the Prairie, Amaar Rashid and Rayyan Hamoudi are both Muslims. Amaar Rashid is the new imam that has come to Mercy (the little town/prairie) and Sarah Hamoudi is the wife of a Muslim who is very prominent in the up-keep of the mosque. In Reel Bad Arabs, the male Arab in Hollywood is seen as: a terrorist, a sex-obsessed man and a buffoon. Comparing this stereotype to the character of Amaar Rashid, we see a huge difference in how the Arab male is portrayed. Amaar Rashid is humourous – but not brash. He is passionate about his faith, but not in a, “shove it down your throat” kind of way. And as for women, he is very respectable around them – especially around Rayyan, he mistakes a statement of hers as inappropriate and tells her so. He embodies a respectable Muslim man who wants to follow his creator. Rayyan Hamoudi is the daughter of Yasir (the man who is renting out the parish for the mosque) In Reel Bad Arabs, the Arab woman is shown as: submissive, seductive, objectified and terrorist. Rayyan has the characteristics of a kind, yet sassy young woman who is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in.
“…..You were the guy I dreamed about.”
“Rayyan, that’s not very appropriate.”
“Get over yourself! I dreamed about you for our mosque!”
We see not so much of an “overly-submissive” Arab woman that fades into the background. But a three dimensional, woman with motives and passions as well. Something that both these characters have in common with the men and women stereotypes from Reel Bad Arabs, is that they are passionate about their beliefs – but not to the extreme from the stereotype from Reel Bad Arabs.
In this show, we are introduced to a few “Christians.” (whether or not they are actually Christians is unsure.) But they appear to be conservative white people. They are skeptical of the new mosque that is meeting in the parish hall and of the new imam that has come to town. The reporter, radio spokesman, caretaker and pastor are the main Christians we see in the show. The reporter, radio spokesman and caretaker are the ones that are super skeptical and trying to drive the Muslims and the new imam out of the town of Mercy – in a very humorous way. Whereas they display the pastor as a kind and understanding individual who allows the Muslims to meet in the parish hall anyway – even though everyone else is unsure of whether they should be allowed to or not.
“Reverend Mcgee claims he rented the church hall to a construction company…”
“So he claims.”
“But you know otherwise.”
“I’m no expert Fred, but when you walk into a room and you see a mullah with a beard talking about blowing up “Canadian idol”, you gotta figure he’s not a roofer.”
I feel as if the dominant message about organized religion is that we can all live with our separate beliefs in harmony. It goes out of its way to show that other people have their beliefs too, it offers religious tolerance and respect for the religious beliefs and nationality of others. It also shows, that nationality and religion are two separate things… One of the Muslims is Sarah Hamoudi and she is caucasian. The same could go for an Arab Christian, just because someone’s nationality matches the majority of the religious beliefs found in that country, doesn’t mean that they are of that religion.
I agree with this message, I believe that even if you don’t disagree with someone, that doesn’t mean you can persecute or not show them tolerance. I believe that we should respect the beliefs of others, even you don’t share in those beliefs.