I know exactly what you are doing this Sunday night. You’re tuning in to watch ABC’s “House of Gods” at 8:30pm, a compelling narrative that dives deep into the complexities of faith, family, and identity within the Muslim community.

The first episode starts with controversy of Sheikh Muhammad being kissed by a non-Muslim woman, and the consequences that sent shockwaves throughout the mosque community, and his family.

In addition to its captivating storytelling and talented cast, “House of Gods” also serves as a platform for important conversations within the Muslim community.

“House of Gods” is not just another TV series, at its core, the show is based on the life of Osama Sami, a renowned actor, and his journey navigating the challenges of modern life while trying to stay true to his roots.

Osama Sami, actor and writer in House of Gods, says it’s all about holding a mirror of truth to the Muslim community.

In an AMUST exclusive I sat down with Osama to explore his vision for the series.

Through its thought-provoking narratives, the series encourages viewers to reflect on their own beliefs and values, sparking meaningful discussions that can lead to greater understanding and unity.

“The show is not really just about answers or giving answers. It’s about hopefully creating debate and nudging the conversation towards a happy medium and wider society in Australia, can watch the show and appreciate and have a new window. This fresh window gives a glimpse into the life of an Australian Muslim family that otherwise the mainstream wouldn’t have access to, and gives a chance to our the Muslim community to ask those questions, rather than us providing answers. It’s about asking questions and debating them over in the water cooler moments,” said Osama.

One of the most striking aspects of “House of Gods” is its authentic portrayal of Muslim characters. Too often, Muslim representation in media is limited to stereotypes and caricatures.

However, “House of Gods” breaks this mold by presenting multifaceted characters with their own hopes, dreams, and struggles.

This representation is not only refreshing but also crucial in fostering understanding and empathy among viewers.

Why is diverse Muslim female representation important?

“A lot of it’s inspired by real characters and true events. About truth, it’s about showing the the different facets of Islam, the different facets of our religion, and how it’s interpreted also differently. There is true representations of contemporary young Muslim women in Australia. The more episodes we delve in, we can flesh out the characters, we can examine the female roles.”

Moreover, “House of Gods” explores themes that resonate deeply with the Muslim audience. From the pressures of balancing cultural expectations with personal ambitions to the quest for spiritual fulfilment in a fast-paced world, the series tackles issues that many Muslims face in their everyday lives.

This relatability is what makes “House of Gods” a must-watch for anyone seeking authentic storytelling and meaningful content.

Why is it House of Gods, plural? Was this intentional as it is shirk to associate someone with God, major sin in Islam. 

“The masjid sometimes within it, certain people, certain factions behave as gods. And I’m not referring to God Almighty. So all these people come together and it’s kind of that story of Ibrahim (a) when he goes into the the temple, sees all the idols and smashes them with the ax and says, Hey, ask which god did it. It’s that idea of worship and people’s interference with worship.”

The series portrays the power struggle and politics within the mosque, characters who act very godly, where people praise and ‘worship’ them.

Another compelling aspect of “House of Gods” is its stellar cast and crew. Led by Osama Sami, who not only stars in the series but also contributes to its writing and production, the show boasts a talented team dedicated to delivering a high-quality viewing experience. Their passion for storytelling is evident in every episode, making “House of Gods” a true labor of love.

The show features a number of different characters, on differing levels of practice and faithfulness.

“It’s not about portraying sinful Muslims, it’s portraying Muslims. I really love the idea of, us as Muslims being reflected in being seen through popular culture and whilst also at the same time holding a mirror to ourselves” said Osama.

What were your considerations in portraying the Shia Iraqi community?

“I wanted this to be about a Muslim family, not a Shia family. I tell my friends actually in the Middle East, I said, you know what, In Australia, I never know if my friends, Sunni, Shia, muslim, if it’s we’re under the umbrella. One prophet, one person and we pray five times that we pray differently. We have, different caliphs and stuff, but it’s so important in a time, in times like these, for us to be united. I don’t feel like I have the license to suddenly dress up as a Sunni or start telling that story necessarily, because I know that that this world really well. I grew up in it. I can portray it, but without giving it those labels. In fact, we we don’t mention the sectarian which exists rivalries and stuff in this series.”

The show portrays, you know, corruption or hypocrisy in religious establishments. Are you nervous about any backlash?

“There are a lot of Muslims in Australia, yet not too many mainstream stories which have truly depicted them in all their facets – not just the good, but also the bad and the ugly and the mysterious and the loving and the wicked and the kind.”

“My hope sincerely Insha’Allah, that in sticking to the truth in any sort of bad exposure exposing or anything it’s in showing the reality of our community, of our faith. Hopefully people see that and recognise themselves in it and any drama is going to have heroes and villains. Yeah. And it’s going to have shades. And even out villains is sometimes heroic. And even our heroes sometimes do villainous things. Which is, again, real. And it’s about it’s about truth rather than, you know, trying to expose what happens behind the scenes and and all that. Hopefully Inshallah gets people on board because it’s a story at the end of the day about a Muslim community living in the West. It’s the first time ever such a subject has been approached from mainstream TV.” said Osama.

Issa (Osama Sami) and Sheikh Mohammad (Kamel El Basha) attend a tribal council having to deal with the controversy of the Instagrammed kiss.

What was your most favourite scene in Episode 1?

“I love my scene with everybody but my scenes with Kamel, who plays my dad. I just love doing those scenes with him. There is a scene in the arcade when he comes out of the hairdressers, the barbershop, and I’m trying to convince him to go and see Saeed. But I remember it was probably one of the few scenes that I wrote for episode one that made it to the final draft, but doing that scene with Kamel and trying to actually plead with him, it was that high energy in trying to convince me. Kamel is such a great, wonderful actor, a wonderful human being” said Osama.

It seems that the father-son relationship between Kamel and Issa, influenced their off-screen relationship – and the feeling was mutual for both of them.

“Osamah is very energetic, full of love, and passion. He knows exactly what he wants as the creator and writer of the series. It was great working with him, I love him, and I consider him as a son. I have three daughters, but I see him as an adopted son – I enjoyed every minute of it” said Kamel El Basha.

“House of Gods” is a celebration of faith, family, and the human experience. With its authentic portrayal of Muslim characters, compelling storytelling, and thought-provoking themes, the show has the power to inspire, educate, and entertain audiences of all backgrounds. Whether you’re a fan of drama, comedy, or simply good storytelling, “House of Gods” is a series that is sure to captivate and resonate with you.

What was challenging about your career journey?

“In the early days, there were very limited roles. You’re options are as a taxi driver or a terrorist.  It was very, very difficult. I remember even one casting director said to me, you know, all you’ll be able to play is a security guard. Yeah, I’ll never forget that. But that was years and years ago. And the landscape has changed now.” said Osama.

“There’s so many reasons why I wanted to make this show, one being to inspire young up and coming storytellers to say, ‘Hey, we can tell our stories without fear!’ As honestly, and truthfully as we can. With all the challenges we’ve overcome, we don’t have to hide. We don’t have to be embarrassed of who we are” he said.

Tune in to watch ABC’s House of Gods on Sunday 25 February at 8:30pm on ABC, six-part weekly series. 

Bonus Rapid Fire Questions!

What are the three things you’re grateful for?

“My life, my family, my faith. And I guess I want to say my community.”

Who’s your mentor?

“My dad was my biggest mentor, and he still is, even though he’s passed away.”

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

“Invisibility would be really cool.

What is your love language?

“Gift giving. Especially when I’m traveling. I like to pick out gifts that a person would like.”

What about receiving, do you like receiving gifts?

“I do because I want to receive. But I don’t get many gifts. *Osama laughs*”

 

Stream All Episodes of House of Gods on ABC iViewIn this brand new drama series,follow an ambitious Iraqi Australian family as they grapple with newfound power and privilege. Stream free and ad-free on ABC iview. Post paid for by the ABC
Arabic subtitles: https://ab.co/49GWxOi