Entertainment |

Binge-Watching Modern and Contemporary Muslim Shows at Home

Entertainment | 22 May 2020
Claimed as the Best Actor - Television Series Musical and Comedy on 77th Golden Globe Awards, American comedian Ramy Youssef comes back this year with the second season of Hulu Original Ramy that will premiere on 29 May 2020. Still photo of Ramy/NOW!JAKARTA

After practicing fasting a full month, Eid Al -Fitr this year might be a little bit quiet as the Covid-19 pandemic forces us to practice self-quarantine to contain the spread of the disease. With the current situation, we are likely to stay at home for a while, celebrating Eid at home with loved ones. On the other hand, this holiest month can be a spiritual journey for Muslims around the world.

Aside from celebrating Eid with family, praying, or reading Qoran, watching Muslim TV shows, film, and documentary can enrich our knowledge and perspective about religion and faith especially for those wanting to look at modern and contemporary Muslim entertainment at home. From the documentary feature to stand-up comedy, these shows will challenge our mindset and extend the horizon of our knowledge about the life of Muslims in modern world. 


Ramy (2019 - Present)

Claimed as the Best Actor - Television Series Musical and Comedy on 77th Golden Globe Awards, American comedian Ramy Youssef comes back this year with the second season of Hulu Original Ramy that will premiere on 29 May 2020. The American actor with Egyptian descent plays a leading role as Ramy Hassan, a first-generation American Muslim who is on a spiritual journey in his politically divided New Jersey neighborhood. It explores the reality of Muslims’ life that challenges of what it is like being caught between an Egyptian community that thinks life is a moral test, and a generation that thinks life has no consequences.

This series is provocative and depicts the daily life of American Muslims with a comedy take that will make a burst of laughter among its viewers. The comedy-drama is also recognised as the funniest Muslim TV show as the episodes of the Hulu series feature an act performance from comedian Mohammed Amer to Academy Award-winning actor Mahershala Ali as well as diverse actors with a disability and skin colour. It’s a must-watch show that will challenge our perspective in the contemporary life of the Muslim community that definitely resonates with audiences across the border.

 


For Sama (2019)

Bringing the distinctive perspective from the eye of woman, FOR SAMA is both an intimate and epic journey into the female experience of war. A love letter from a young mother to her daughter, the film tells the story of Waad al-Kateab’s life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo, Syria as she falls in love, gets married and gives birth to Sama, all while cataclysmic conflict rises around her. Her camera captures incredible stories of loss, laughter, and survival as Waad wrestles with an impossible choice– whether or not to flee the city to protect her daughter’s life when leaving means abandoning the struggle for freedom for which she has already sacrificed so much.

The film is the first feature documentary by Emmy award-winning filmmakers, Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts. For Sama was awarded the Prix L’Œil d’Or for Best Documentary at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. It also won the Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary at the SXSW Film Festival and the Special Jury Prize for International Feature Documentary at the Hot Docs Festival.

The documentary film is a wake-up call about the current situation in the world that will touch your heart during this current pandemic crisis, knowing that the life of people are full of threats nothing to compare to what we experience right now.

 


Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King (2017)

Released in 2017, the Netflix original stand-up special Hasan Minhaj: homecoming King is still relevant to watch today. For those haven’t watched this comedy special, Hasan Minhaj, Indian-American comedian and the host of Patriot Act Hasan Minhaj will blow our mind with his jokes around the issue about Muslim immigrant, racism as well as discrimination towards the Muslim community in the world. Filmed in his hometown of Davis, California, Homecoming King focuses on Minhaj's experience growing up in an Indian American Muslim family.

Minhaj talks about the pressures of being the child of demanding immigrant parents to heavy topics such as harassment after the 9/11 tragedy in the US. Written and starred by Hasan Minhaj himslef, the stand-up special received immense critical acclaim, with some calling it the best stand-up comedy special on Netflix. Even though it captures specifically the life of Indian-American Muslims, his skill in telling the story will touch global audiences, bringing light to serious topics in a most entertaining way.

 


Messiah (2020)

Premiered on Netflix in January 2020, Messiah is a controversial web tv series that will challenge our knowledge about the figures in religion with its dissection that address the article from Bible to Qoran. Starring Mehdi Dehbi as Al-Masih, the series focuses on the modern world's reaction to a man who first appears in the Middle East, whose followers claim him to be the eschatological return of 'Isa (Jesus). His sudden appearance and apparent miracles spark a growing international following, casting doubts around who he really is, a case investigated by a CIA officer.

Even though the show has not been renewed for the second season after received allegations of anti-Islamic sentiment, the TV show becomes contemporary interpretation about religious figures in different religions that lingers among religious practice especially between Christian and Islam as the Muslim viewers perceived Messiah as a character depiction of Dajjal, the deceiver.

 


Layla M (2016)

Directed by Mijke de Jong, Layla M. is a 2016 Dutch drama film starring Nora El Koussour who plays a character of Layla, a young Dutch Muslim of Moroccan background. Born and raised in Amsterdam, Layla faces daily Islamophobia and racism. Whilst her family is happily assimilated into Dutch culture, Layla starts to rebel and to move toward Islamic fundamentalism.

Variety noted that the film came at a time when Islamophobia was on the rise in Western Europe and wrote that "El Koussour and Addab share gentle chemistry that curdles into romantic tragedy". The Netflix original film Layla M. was selected as the Dutch entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards but was not nominated. The film itself addresses the struggle among young Muslims in no-Islamic countries who try to adapt to the culture and challenge their faith and belief toward religion. The director Mijke de Jong said that the film aims to humanise the radicalized community and study the Islamophobia. 

 


Little Mosque on the Prairie (2007 - 2012)

Little Mosque on the Prairie is old as its date release but this Canadian TV show has successfully attracted a global audience as it’s available on streaming service, Hulu. Created by Zarqa Nawaz and produced by WestWind Pictures, Mosque is a sitcom that narrates the life of the modern Muslim community in Canada. The series focuses on the Muslim community in the fictional prairie town of Mercy, Saskatchewan that derives some of its humour from exploring the interactions of the Muslims with the non-Muslim townspeople of Mercy, and the contrast of conservative Islamic views with more liberal interpretations of Islam.

Originally broadcasted on CBC, the Hulu Series under the name Little Mosque can be streamed by all people around the world. Within 6 seasons of the series, one will learn about tolerance and challenging the prejudice towards the Muslim community in the world. The series is critically acclaimed as an entertaining way to look at the harmonious community within its differences. The show also credited Canada to become a success in bringing immigrants to the country and considered as one of the friendliest countries for Muslims and refugees.