When I first saw the trailer for God’s Not Dead I thought to myself, “This could be really good, or really bad.” I recently took to watching the film and couldn’t finish the last 40 minutes because I was too offended to watch further. What I had expected, in all my naievety, was a movie where people of different faiths could all join hands and say “God’s NOT dead!” and celebrate the different views people hold of God- but all agreeing that God exists. What I got was a load of anti-everyone-but-christian propoganda that made my cheeks flush with frustration. Obviously, the part that was most offensive to me was the muslim family.
In the scene where the girl, Ayisha, was being dropped off by her father I could sense a feeling of discomfort from the girl over her hijab/niqab that she was wearing. When she removed it hastily upon her fathers leave, I saw what could have been a great opportunity to explain hijab and its importance in Islam (majority opinion) and how it is an act of worship for a god that is not dead. When she dawned the hijab again before her father’s return and another student commented how pretty she was and how she wished the girl didn’t have to cover, followed by a comment about “old fashioned” from Ayisha, I knew it was all down hill from there. This showed a blatant misconception and misunderstanding of hijab in Islam- how it isn’t cultural, but scriptural (again, the majority opinion of scholars. I’m not looking for a debate, just stating my understanding and beliefs). Additionally, the idea that her father made her wear a head scarf and veil herself is contrary to the “No compulsion in religion” part of Islam. Even more, the short sleeved shirt she wore didn’t really fit into the additional requirements of hijab. Well, if you’re going to misrepresent something, you might as well completely screw it up.
Oh, well, maybe they can still save the movie.
Then, when Ayisha is caught listening to biblical scripture (ironically, 1 Corinthians, which also states that a believing woman should cover her hair as to not shame her head…but of course that wasn’t included) her father smacks her around and throws her out of the house. Oh yes, how very islamic of him. I’m not saying this doesn’t happen. It’s unfortunate, but it is not limited to Islam. A dear friend of mine, raised in a Christian home, has recently come to words with her mother because she has been studying religions besides Christianity as of late, looking for the truth as she can see it. The Qu’ran says to respect Christians, Jews, and other faiths. Somehow, I didn’t get a sense of “respect” when a young girl was slapped by her father and physically removed from her home. A Muslim father is responsible for the safety and well-being of his daughter, whether she is Muslim or not.
It was at this point that I turned it off.
I’m not sure who paid to have this film produced, but it was incredibly unfortunate to take this stand. Islam isn’t the fastest growing religion (with the largest number of converts being women in the west- according to a discussion I’ve heard previously) because of patriarchal, mysogynistic BS. While people are free to believe what they want about God and their own faith, they are not free to make up whatever they want about other cultures and peoples faiths. As if Islamophobia wasn’t already a problem in the US, a film such as this fans the flames. Muslims are your/our neighbors, teachers, coworkers, family, and friends. They aren’t going anywhere. It’s about time someone extended an olive branch of peace and tried to understand Islam instead of demonizing it.