Muslims in Love 2008
Distributed by Filmakers Library, 124 East 40th Street, New York, NY 10016; 202-808-4980
Produced by Sarah Zerina Usmen
Directed by Sarah Zerina Usmen
DVD, color, 88 min.
High School - General Adult
Multicultural Studies, Sociology, Women’s Studies
Date Entered: 06/27/2011Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA
In general, the average American has little knowledge or understanding of the religion, customs and traditions that are a governing aspect of daily life for practicing Muslims. In this small but entertaining documentary, director and narrator Zerina Usmen opens that dialogue by providing information about how devout young Muslim-Americans find love and marriage when dating as it is commonly understood in the U.S. is not an option. For this group, attempting to balance parental and religious expectations with the pressures and influences of modern culture, the strict social separation between the sexes can be difficult. Courtship may involve Muslim matrimonial websites, initial emails and phone calls before formal marriage talks begin and the couple actually meets for the first time, as is the case for two of the subjects in the film, Mohammad and Ferdaus. Michelle, a convert to Islam, must go through a matchmaker or find an adoptive family to help her through the intricate process where one misstep could result in ostracism for her adopted community. For modern, articulate and ambitious Jameelah and Zahra finding a mate without going on a date seems to mean waiting for destiny to strike.
Made as a student project while the director attended the University Of Southern California School Of Cinematic Arts, the film brings an insider’s eye to previously unseen matrimonial customs and ceremonies. Each of the interviewees provides further insights into a set of social issues that are evolving and the difficulties this evolution presents. Audiences will appreciate this sympathetic and at the same time revealing glimpse into an unfamiliar aspect of the Muslim-American experience. Recommended.