By Shabnam Qureshi
The film by comedians and Muslims Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah provides a great amount of insight in the lives of Muslim-Americans in the USA. The Muslims Are Coming documents a group of Muslim-American comedians who go on tour to disperse “Islamaphobia” and to eliminate the associated stigma behind the Islamic religion.
The comedians featured in this documentary are Negin Farsad, Dean Obeidallah, Aron Kader, Preacher Moss, Kareem Omary, Maysoon Zayid and Omar Elba, among many others. The film highlights the true meaning of being a Muslim, or of belonging to any religion for that matter, and implements the concept that we are all humans one and the same. The comedians on this journey utilize not only comical aspects, but utmost patience as well, to work towards breaking down the fear many people have towards Islam. This eye-opening film has something to offer to all types of audiences, including Muslims (like myself), Christians, Buddhists, Atheists and all other religions.
At the conclusion of this film I noticed three things right off the bat: some people in the present audience loved it and completely identified with the comedians and their experiences. Some people hated everything about the film and completely disagreed. Other people just wanted their extra credit.
Personally, I felt the movie touched base with many real-life problems such as stereotyping and racial profiling. The comedians did an awesome job being careful to avoid pointing fingers at anyone. They approached what they thought were misconceptions that people have of Islam with patience, and comedy of course.
For every negative or generalized comment people had towards Muslims, the comedians counteracted with a light-hearted joke or fact. This refreshing approach included fun facts, ‘Ask-A-Muslim’ events, prizes, giveaways and much more. The entire band of comedians (there were some non-Muslims) was able to go on tour and use these methods to persuade people their generalizations of Islam being a violent religion were wrong, and that Islam is a religion of peace and mercy, they said. Not any one religion is better, and there are fanatics that identify with religions that give bad names, resulting in racial profiling and racism, they said.
The surprising part was realizing the polar-opposite reactions that audiences have to it. There was a moment in the movie when a group of conservative-Muslim girls got up and left the show because they seemed to be offended when the female among the comedians was joking about vulgar content. However, the male who performed on-stage before her had incorporated more vulgar content in his show, but that had not seemed to upset the girls. The double standards the audience held the female and male comedians to blew my mind. It was the first time I had witnessed such an expectation of following through with assigned gender roles: the expectation of the female being pleasant and dainty while the male gets to have all the fun. Not only did this form of sexism occur in the film, but in the Montgomery College audience as well. Needless to say, the film elicited quite a few reactions, the majority of them being optimistic.
I have learned so much from this film, and I consider myself thankful to have been recommended it. There are many misconceptions people have towards other cultures, traditions and religions, and it is hurting America as a whole. We are considered a mixing pot of different cultures and ethnic groups, and it is time to become educated with things like “Islamaphobia” and other issues associated with the fear of the unknown, they said. The Muslims are Coming encourages me to pursue further knowledge to avoid a narrow mindset, and it gives me hope knowing there are people out there who are working towards bringing down the walls between fellow Americans; whether they share religion or not.