Innocence of Muslims – A Film by Sam Bacile

By- Dilip Dutta

A 14 minute film clip of a supposed full length film trailer was put in YouTube for public viewing in July this year. It just sat there un-noticed. Then someone decided to dub it to Arabic and an Egyptian Channel televised it in a critical chat show only few days ago. Then the hell was let loose. The American envoy who helped the Libyan opposition to win the armed struggle was blasted off using RPGs on 11 September inside the US Embassy in Libya; incidentally on the 11th anniversary of 9/11. After that, one after the other, western Embassies have been attacked in different parts of the world which is reminiscence of the Rushdie episode. As the trailer clip of Innocence of Muslims became quite difficult to locate on the net by the evening of 12 September, I suspect it is domino effect of acting on ‘some one has seen it’ phenomenon, the matter did spread like wild fire. Till today 9 people have died as a result of the violent reaction to the film.

If we recall it was India which banned Rushdie’s Satanic Verses first. One can only guess if it was a revenge on him depicting Indira having a dark side with metaphor of her two colour frontal lock of hair, because, now after the book has been read by some Muslims who admit that it is a surrealist novel and the catastrophic reaction to it was uncalled for. (I have seen the book finding a place in his book-self in the home of a devout Islamic highly educated professional.) If India did not ban the Satanic Verses, perhaps, the book would have similar fate of his few other books which have disappeared into oblivion and all those lives of intellectuals across the world would not have been lost.

Did the Indian experts understand the book which I found extremely difficult to read and to keep track of the writer’s thoughts? I doubt very much. I do not think it would be far from the truth that most of the Muslims, who demonstrated across the globe apart from seeing the cover page of the book on TV screens, even have been near it, let alone touch and read it. Read it? I must be joking!

Coming back to Innocence of Muslims, the part I have managed to watch, shows a very amateurish attempt and the result is fit only to be put in the dust bin. I am not surprised by Muslim reaction against it. Muslims are happy to hear praise of Islam which calms their nerves. But, say anything critical, it does not take long for them to fly off the handle!

These inept makers of Innocence of Muslims might have killed off a project to make an epic of a film on the life of Mohammad, the Islamic prophet. In the history of our world in the past 1400 years this human being has made the greatest impact and 1.4 Billion souls are total follower of this man and ready to lay their lives for him without a second thought. His life is a fascinating story in par with greatest religious stories which have been told in celluloid. Taking it to the common people of all colour, creed and faith to appreciate his place in human history need to be lauded.

Making a film on Mohammad is ever so important, because, the majority of his followers do not speak or understand even spoken Arabic. But, to make a film on Mohammad, total objectivity based on the Shira, Shira, the Qur’an and authentic Hadiths (agreed to be so by majority Muslims) is a must, I feel quotes of appropriate verses and sayings need to be put on the screen so that people can cross refer to settle their mind.

Dr. Ali Sina of Canada who hails from a scholarly Iranian Muslim family, with few co-promoters, has been planning such a project for a while. His analytical writings on Islam and debates give one to understand the depth of this man’s knowledge. Dr. Sina with his standing, I expect him to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. I do not expect him to mock Islam. However translators of Qura’n quite often attempting to hide unpalatable truths in the book, I suspect in the film Dr. Sina will not be able to hide anything. This truth may hurt Muslims. Hence, responsible and recognised Muslim scholars should be joining hands with the people promoting the project of Life of Prophet Mohammad film making to help telling the story without adulteration and censoring for the world to know it all.

A thought has just creeped into my head. Could it be that the Innocence of Muslims film supposed trailer is actually to kill off Dr. Sina’s project?

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