ANALYSIS | Some American Muslims are perplexed and outright angry over The Learning Channel's (TLC) latest show, "All-American Muslim," because they say the show misrepresents Islam and Muslims.
One American Muslim, Sr. Sameer, who watched the show's premiere in November, voiced her concerns that the show misrepresents Islam and American Muslims. She wrote in the December issue of the Chicago Crescent, a publication of The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC), "The first issue I had with this show is that the entire cast was from the same cultural/national background. This is OK if that's what the producers wanted. However, Islam has millions of Muslims who are from a plethora of different backgrounds in America. Therefore, not showing the diversity of Islam is a misrepresentation of our faith as practiced in America."
Other Muslims are voicing similar concerns as Sr. Sameer's. Asra Nomani, a Muslim American Islamic reformist and writer wrote in The Daily Beast that the show simply "sucked." Asra's mother, who Asra had interview for her article, had stopped watching the show because, "It's not very deep." Sohrab Ahmari, an Iranian American Muslim journalist, wrote in the Table Magazine that the show does not show the diversity in Islam but instead "reinforces the notion of a monolithic Islam."
The show was meant to show ordinary lives Muslim Americans live, but instead it has treaded into controversial topics of the Islamic religion, including Muslim beliefs concerning use of alcohol, modesty, and in last Sunday's episode, tattoos, as all of these issues seem subjected to the characters' personal interpretations. For example, although Islam forbids alcohol and enjoins modesty, not every cast member agrees with these interpretations. One of the show's controversial characters, Nina Bazzy Aliahmad, seems to flout several Islamic teachings with her immodest outfits and her drive to open a club that would serve alcohol.
In last Sunday's episode, there was a scene in which TLC has dubbed "All American Muslim: Building Friendship Through Ink." Bilal Amen gets a tattoo, which appears to contravene Islamic teachings. Prophet Muhammad "forbade the profession of tattooing, getting tattooed and receiving." (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 34, Number 299).
All of these controversies raise questions about Islam's true teachings, and also of the sentiment of the Muslim majority in America. Do most American Muslims sympathize with the show's critics, agreeing that it doesn't represent true Islam? And if they do, then why are they encouraging a boycott against the show's sponsors?