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Among the Believers cover photo

Among the Believers 2015


Distributed by First Run Features, 630 Ninth Avenue, Suite 1213, New York, NY 10036; 212-243-0600
Produced by Changeworx; Manjusha Films (Jonathan Goodman Levitt and Hemal Trivedi)
Directed by Naqvi, Mohammed; Trivedi, Hemal
DVD , color, 88 min.

High School - General Adult
Islamic Law, Jihad, Middle East, Religion, Sociology

Date Entered: 02/06/2017

Reviewed by Michael Fein, Coordinator of Library Services, Central Virginia Community College, Lynchburg, VA

A close relative of mine worked for a UN associated agency back during the Salman Rushdie “controversy” in 1988-89. This relative was having lunch with some colleagues from this agency who were from the Middle East. All of the people were college educated, some of them Oxford and Cambridge educated, and had been in the West for many years. This relative remarked that this controversy seemed to be rather ridiculous. These colleagues were quite adamant that Rushdie should die because he had “…insulted the prophet!” This relative and I watched this film together and the only thing that disturbed this relative more than the content of this film is that people in the West are so “shocked” about someone like Abdul Aziz Ghazi. What he believes has been around for over a millennium. Maybe the contemporary view of religion as a sociological process/phenomenon, rather than viewing a religion on its own theological terms/basis makes it hard for one to soberly understand a religion’s beliefs.

Aziz Ghazi is a Pakistani Islamic cleric who wishes to impose Shariah on all of Pakistan and, by extension, throughout the world, which has been Islamic doctrine since its inception. Aziz Ghazi runs a network of “Red Mosques” throughout Pakistan and is himself a supporter of ISIS and the Taliban. Besides portraying Aziz Ghazi, the film focuses on the lives of two students, both age 12, who spent time in one of the Madrassahs of his network. One of these, Talha is a boy who eventually becomes estranged from his family and becomes a preacher of Jihad; Zarina is a girl who escapes from her madrassah, attends a local school, but because of her family’s poverty enters into an arranged marriage. As a secular/”moderate” Moslem counterpart to Aziz Ghazi, we are presented with Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, who is a nuclear physicist and vehemently opposes Aziz. All of this makes for quite a dramatic and intriguing mixture of a production.

The sound and visual quality are excellent. There are also some “bonus” scenes which did not make the final cut on this disc. As a final thought…V.S. Naipaul wrote a book, published in the early 1980s, by the same title as this production which looked at the Islamic world in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Are the producers alluding to Naipaul’s book with their title? All collections should consider.