Globe Hall at Montgomery College Germantown was about one-third full of students, faculty and guests that gathered to watch ‘Noor.’
Performed at American University in Washington D.C., ‘Noor’ was written by Akbar Ahmed. ‘Noor’ was produced and directed by Manjula Kumar.
Manjula Kumar took the podium to say a few words about Ahmed and the themes of the play. She stated that the themes are timeless and “the values are universal.” Therefore the play appeals to people of all different spiritual and ethnic backgrounds alike. Kumar also told the audience that Dr. Ahmed has been called “..the worlds leading authority on contemporary Islam.” Then it was announced, much to the surprise of the audience, that Dr. Akbar Ahmed and the cast and crew involved in the making of Noor were also present.
The story of Noor takes place in a 24 hour period and involves the family and close relatives of a girl named Noor who has been detained for reasons unknown to the viewer and the main characters.
The story focuses mainly on the very different attitudes of Noor’s three brothers and how they cope with her absence. Abdullah, the first brother, is a teacher who follows Islam and also practices Sufism. The second brother, Daoud, is also Muslim, but follows a more fundamental path than the other brothers. The last brother is Ali. Ali was raised in a family of Islamic tradition and is a lawyer, taking a more secular approach to life.
The first scene opens on dialogue between Abdullah and Daoud, talking about girls taken away and assaulted, which they suspect might have happened to Noor. Abdullah tells his brothers and father they need to trust in Allah and that Noor will be brought home safely. Daoud takes his thought to an extreme and figures the worst has happened to Noor, and proposes there be violent retaliation. Finally, Ali says he will send a complaint to the government, which Daoud tells him will be a futile effort at getting anything done.
Noor returned home safely at the end of the play, though much is left open to interpretation in regards to which degree she’d been abused during the whole process. Just what Manjula Kumar opened the play with, the themes involved are easily understood and reach across both state and religion. One of the main points of this play is the universal idea of the spectrum of dogma and religious extremism. This idea is actualized through the conflict between the three brothers. This gives the viewer an opportunity to see that religious devotion does not directly correlate to extremism, the play underlined.