Belly Dancing, Night Clubs and Hijabs- TLC’s All-American Muslim

So tonight was the big night, the rolling out of TLC’s much anticipated reality TV show on Muslims living in Amreeka.  Yaaaay!

But you know what so far from all the feedback on facebook things dont look to good for the show.

Before I share the comments I found, here are some thoughts I had.

First- Arabs do not make up a large segment of the Muslim community here in the United States, OR, in the world.  In fact there are more Muslims living in Indonesia than there are living in the Middle East.  (Or there might be a the same amount, all I know is that we got more Muslims who are non-Arab).

In fact here in the US there are more Black Muslims than there are Arabs.  There are more Pakistani (South Asian) Muslims than Arabs.  For the show to have casted all FIVE families as Arab families- BIG THUMBS DOWN.  You might as well have dropped the “ALL…MUSLIM” from the title and replaced it with “American Arab”.

I would go one step further, there are more Lebanese Muslims living up in Michigan where this reality show takes place, so worse, this is a Lebanese heavy production.  Muslim cultures vary from family to family but also much more so from culture to culture, nationality to nationality.  You want real drama, get a Pakistani girl marrying a Black Muslim- you will have more drama in that then New Jersey Medium would in the entire history of that shows life.

That is the only criticism I have of the show.  I dont care like some of the folks below, whose comments I picked up, about the fact that it shows very crazy liberal Muslims who are wanting to open bars and are tatooed up the wahzoo.  Listen, I know many Muslim folks like that, and personally, I find tatoos attractive. (ROARrrrrrr….)  I dont mind that the guy converted to Islam just so he could marry the Muslim girl.  I dont care that there are some unexplained concepts in Islam in there.  Nor do I care that folks arent Jilbab wearing soccer moms and dharri-wala Uncles.  Yes, these are all components of the community and probably far better dawah representations of Islam and Muslims in America, but you see thats whats wrong with folks in the American Muslim community boo-hooing about the show- YOU JUST DONT GET IT.

You don’t get that YOU are not the target audience of the show.  If you want values and you want morals similar to yours then  you probably will watch shows like “Sister Wives” or “19 and growing”.  Heck, I find those shows pretty cool because it brings me a reality that living in America with my set of morals and values is still possible.  Much Respect.  But all these shows including those ones are meant to be for the broader audience and while we American Muslims are part of that audience we are but  a small niche in that audience.  We are but a small segment.  Whether you like it or not does not matter because our dollars dont work here.  If we don’t watch the show but millions of other Americans do than yes!  But you scream, I see it!  You are screaming that this is a MISSED DAWAH OPPORTUNITY!

You want a dawah opportunity then you finance the dang show.  The folks behind the show want certain things in this show.  Its a formula and while the show goes on you will see the plot line develop tensions and crazy developments, you will see story arcs, like my friend Sharaf Mowjood said, give it time, this was only the pilot.  That doesn’t mean you are going to get an Islam 101.  Nor does it mean that a mufti will sit on the show and say “Oh, the Aouda’s here did this haraam thing an well she said this and Islam says this about it.”  See the thing is, inevitably, when you got Muslims, you also don’t got clear authority and here the show is doing exactly what its purpose is- showing folks in their day to day lives with the catch being that they are American Muslims not Islamic scholars or Mufti’s.

So you might not see yourself in the families portrayed in it.   You might just find it to be an utter disgrace.  Its just doesnt matter at all.  Because at the end of the day close to fifty percent of the American population doesnt even know a Muslim, and some 68% say they haven’t even met a Muslim before and if they did they might have a different view.  Well a whole crap load of people might be watching this and they just got introduced to 5 families who say they are Muslim, just means its your job now to go out and become friends with these folks and show them what youre made of!

Finally, these folks are largely Shia, yet they don’t get that vibe of who is an isn’t Shia, is that a problem?  I think not, again, this show is not all that “Muslim” as it about culture and the culture here is more Arab (Lebanese) and American, where religion are an important, at times significant, facet of their identity.

Here are some comments I collected about the show-

The main characters are proud tattoo wearing, aspiring to open a bar/ nightclub women. We could do away with that and focus on those Muslims who positively contribute to their communities in a different way. That would be a more positive light on Islam.

Saw a whole bunch of these types of comments:

 i though it was terrible of representation of islam and muslim to everyone. we get a shot of try to clear things up and they come up with this show. to have the show called “all american muslim” should actually have muslim ppl in it. to be a muslim u have to act as a muslim, theres no such thing as muslim by name

Again the Islam versus not-Islam:

From the show, the non Muslims don’t see the Muslims as any different from them now because the show was focused on the “rebels” who do whatever- even if it’s haram, yet the other 99% of us Muslims don’t behave in such a way.

The stuff about dawah:

what r non muslims supposed to think of us now! the freaking guy only converted so he cud marry a “so called” muslima! and her father instead of giving him dawa, just sits there and writes down the shahadah for him on a piece of paper to memorize and forget

On the All-American Muslim facebook wall page

Arwa Ayloush- “I could not relate to the families portrayed, not as an American or a Muslim”

Nadia Abdalla- “What were u guys thinking when u picked the cast! This is a horrible way to show what Muslims go through being in America…..Are there really Arabs like this? This show is a good Time Waster”

Zainab Shamsideen- “this is horrible, this show is about being more american then muslim in america!!!”

I admit, this one here was my favorite quote:

Um Qasim- “In my opinion, SISTER WIVES has more of a Muslim undertone than this show — sorry but at least they stick to their religion’s principles!”

I tend to agree with Usman here, I don’t really care about this show one way or another:

Usman Chaudhry- This show is a good show to past time on. But it doesn’t depict Muslims, Islam or even Americans in any more of a way then Jersey Shore would of italians or any reality television show would of any specific group. That being said, I don’t think it’s supposed to show Muslims praying five times a day or Masjids. But rather that Muslims are here to add our culture to the existing culture here in America and we can mix in our religion and cultural beliefs with what exists in America. I give this show no specific importance or approval.

“feel the love”

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9 thoughts on “Belly Dancing, Night Clubs and Hijabs- TLC’s All-American Muslim

  1. I thought it portrayed the Arab American Muslims in the midwest pretty accurately, having lived there and being an Arab, it hit the mark here. The Muslim community is very diverse, with different cultures, schools of thought and different
    degrees of religious practice. The show having a Lebanese/Shi’i focus was kind of cool and different imo.

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  2. @leyla: as true as that may be, its dishonestly marketed as portraying “Muslim Americans”, but it doesn’t. It portrays Lebanese Americans, which is how it ought to be marketed.

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  3. Disagree…partially. It’s find that they show the liberal Muslim family, but they should show the other side as well, the side of the average Muslim family where the level of practice is moderate and some things are hit, some are miss. It seems as if it is weighted heavier on the liberal side, and part of that is fine but that’s not the majority of the population as he says. This could just be another reason for people to think that women really are oppressed and parent do push they’re kids too much…because they see that there are Muslims who don’t HAVE to follow all the rules. Islam is a choice, and I don’t think that this show will truly show that in it’s colors. But then again this is just MY view on it. I watched the first 15 minutes and changed it because it was, simply put, stupid.

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  4. interesting. im gonna watch the show. saw the previews. seems more like an imitation of those reality shows like keeping up with the kardashians and what not. just more halal. i won’t judge till i see it

    Waleed

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