A few months back, TLC TV station aired a few trailers about a show called “All American Muslim” and lots of people in metro Detroit were excited about the show since it was shot in Dearborn. After watching some episodes, here are what some of young Muslim Americans had to say about the show:
Rajaa Althaibani, a freelance Muslim American journalist based in New York had mixed feelings about the show.
“Honestly, one thing I can say for sure is that it is a depiction of Arab American life more than on Islam. It is fueling the stereotype that all Muslims are Arab, and what it should highlight is that Islam is a global religion and Arabs are just a fraction of it. The show would be much more successful and accurate if it followed Muslims of different backgrounds. This way, we could see how Muslims are diverse and we can learn a lot about how culture influences our practicing of Islam and beliefs.” Althaibani said.
“Whether we like it or not, culture influences the way we interpret and practice Islam. This may not be a bad thing. We can show how fundamentalists practice Islam so it can represent more of their cultural beliefs, and it can show how unorthodox Muslims practice Islam for the same reason. People are naturally subjective, and this is why we need to show that Islam does not have one face. It has so many layers.” she added.
Hanan Yahya, a high school senior and a student leader in Dearborn, Michigan outlined the pros and cos of the show.
“I agree that the show is allowing American Muslims to show and express their daily lifestyle by being both Muslim and American in the same time; however,most of the American lifestyle and culture contradicts Islam and its’ expectations/requirements of Muslims. Besides, they are misrepresenting the Dearborn Muslim community. This show is focusing on the Lebanese Shia Muslims and the Islamic Center of America way too much. It lacks the representation of the Islamic Sunni Arab Community that is a big portion of the Dearborn community also. More importantly, the “All -American Musim” show doesn’t expose any American Muslims’ ethnic, theological, and intellectual diversity.” Yahya said.
Simmone Hazzard, a Muslim convert based in California who video blogs regularly said that the film’s featured stories were not diverse. “They picked the least practicing Muslims in Dearborn to be on the show” she added. “The film took it very far; this is not promoting Muslims; this is degrading them.”
Ameera A, a Muslim American living in California was also disappointed in the show’s outcome. While she appreciates ‘TLC attempt’ to bring American Muslims , to viewers here in the states, she wishes that they had chose either more people, or a diverse group.
“We all know Dearborn has Many different Arabs and Muslims. It would have been nice to see more of ‘the average American Muslim with their daily lives and struggles living in America.” Ameera said.
“They should have shed some lights on the lives of converts and their daily struggles. I was so excited when I heard about the show but to be honest, I would rather be watching the ‘History’ channel ” she added
Ishraq T., a Muslim American in Dearborn believes the featured people in the film were trying to please the viewers. “This show doesn’t represent practicing Muslims at all but the Lebanese, shiite Arabs in Dearborn. The majority are not happy with this show. One lebanese said”I watched the first 5 minutes of it and turned it off because I got disgusted”. I don’t like the title because it generalized and indicates that’s how “Muslims” are when in fact Islam is the same but you different people practicing it in a different way and not all are the same.” Ishraq added.
Noor Salem agrees with Ishraq that the film focuses on certain ethnicity and Islamic sect. “The show revolves around the same sect of Islam (Shi’a) and the same background (Lebanese). Without arrogance, these people don’t follow Islam, but culture.”
“Owning a nightclub, wearing shorts and tattoos, and having a boyfriend convert for love is NOT true ISLAM. Non-Muslims who hear about “Islam” for the first time through this show are getting a WRONG image. It’s sad to see a show like this air, I think if anything we’re better off without it. It’s either we do it right, and fair, or we don’t do it at all.” Salem affirmed.
Rasheed Alnozili, Editor & Cheif of the Yemeni American News believes the show is a giant step for Muslims in America despite its shortcomings. “First time, we Muslims being presented in major American TV in their reality.”
Alnozili continued, “I believe this is the start, and we hope that the upcoming ones will be more effective and inclusive.
TLC has been under heavy boycotts from major companies such as Lowe’s and Chase because of the All American Muslim show.