Omar Regan brings a new type of movie to our screens from Halalywood cinema.
This is a movie where there is no profanity or sexual content but still grabs your attention with hilarious comedy and also reflects the issues we face as individuals and as a society.
It casts actors from Muslims to non Muslims and also of different ethnicities – also it is pretty cool to see Eric Roberts (who starred in Batman with Christian Bale) play an important role in the movie.
American Sharia stars Omar Regan as Mohammed or as he prefers to call himself ‘Mo’, an African American who works for the Motor City police force and is also a Muslim who is struggling with his own identity. Mo is a bit of a hot head, the type of person who talks first and thinks later.
Police chief (Joshua Salaam) who wants to appease his Muslim community so he can get re elected decides to put together hot head Mo with calm and always smiling Abdul (Baba Ali) who loves to serve the law the Sharia way. All while the Muslim community of Motor City is being persecuted and harassed by others, sometimes by the police themselves. Mo tries his best to shake off his new and unusual partner but soon learns more about himself and how best to serve his community.
The movie starts off with a gathering in the town hall and the typical complaints, why do Muslims woman cover their faces, and all Muslims are terrorists but soon gets deeper when presenting the facts of tragic events in the past were done by non Muslims such as nazi Germany and the atom bomb. The dialogue in this movie was very strong.
There were many scenes where I sat amazed by what I was hearing. One of them being, when trying to figure out how to manipulate the community, one person refers to the time of black slaves. Slave masters were afraid that they had so many slaves and that they could easily be an uprising. So to hold that back the slave owners separated them, moving the light slaves in the house the darker slaves outside driving conflict between the slaves and away from the Slave owners. This was an example on how to control the Muslim community. Take time to think about that for a moment. To me this showed how manipulation and injustice can so easily be played out without the victims themselves know what exactly just happened.
Though at times it seemed the director was trying to hit a lot of issues at once which sometimes was a bit of an overload – Muslims being harassed, Mo trying ‘find himself’ and some creepy mysterious guy who had a squinting problem (who I thought was the devil, but just turned out to be your average bad guy.) It got a little confusing on who exactly were the ‘bad guys’.
Even though the movie ran on a low budget, it didn’t show in the cinematography especially the chase scenes. The costume design of the police officers were spot on and they did good work on the set designs like the town hall and the police station.
The actors brought a lot of emotion into the movie including comedy (I absolutely loved the cameo by Preacher Moss) and thought provoking scenes. For example while one Muslim was trying to find a cupboard to do his prayer while the Muslim who prayed openly was praised by the non Muslims colleagues as being strong enough in his faith to do his religious duty.
The Soundtrack was a little strange at times. In one scene you kept hearing a clap and then the characters continue to talk and you hear another clap it wasn’t until they increases the sound of the music in the scene that you realised the clap was part of the soundtrack.
The director successfully showed how people (including Muslims) are misinformed about Islam, particularly the word Jihad and Sharia law, people may not be racist because of intolerance or fear but rather it conflicts with their re election plans and how many times in the past people were easily manipulated to fight against each other so that the real enemy couldn’t be identified and unfortunately we as humanity continually repeat this mistake.
The message I left with is don’t be ashamed of being a practising Muslim, know your rights, and there is always an alternative to violence. Also if you suffer from asthma bring an inhaler with you before you watch a comedy movie like this one.
Omar said there will be a DVD release in future of American Sharia but in the mean time I recommend you support him and Halalywood by following him @omarregan on twitter and instagram.
He has great ideas for future movies and needs the numbers to support this great cause.