Issue 73 October 2010
by Nina Froriep
Review by Nadiya Takolia
As the recent Ground-Zero Mosque debate illustrates only too well, being American and Muslim is something of a conundrum in the modern American psyche. The post September 11 era, the war on terror and the notion of a ‘clash of civilisations’ presented by the bulk of western media has permitted the retardation of Islamic culture and the construction of a generalised, narrow and exaggerated dialogue about Muslims- as fully bearded men, burka-clad women and violence invoking terrorists. What’s more, this discourse has defined America’s relationship with Muslims both inside and outside its borders.
Abraham’s Children defies this trend by giving a voice to young American Muslims. This feature documentary explores the lives of six Muslim families living in the beating heart of America; New York City. The viewer is given the opportunity to encounter them as brothers, neighbours, writers and sportsmen amongst other things. Their lives, views and experiences are explored on many different levels, inspiring the viewer to comprehend the Muslim family as much more than just that.
Amongst some of the more surprising Muslim characters we meet are an aspiring Broadway actor, a musician and a figure skater, and the film intelligently mingles these non-stereotypes with the stereotypical dilemmas faced by young New Yorkers such as fashion, relationships and the pursuit of ‘The American Dream’. The title itself echoes America’s identity, calling to mind the famous American president, Abraham Lincoln who championed the abolition of slavery and spoke-out for a freer America where opportunities were available to all.
The documentary also serves as a more formal educational tool; as well as delving into the lives of the characters, it highlights and explores key aspects and issues in Islam such as its five pillars, relationships between the sexes and the hijab, yet always with a sense of wit and always bringing the youths’ own insights to the forefront. Providing an opportunity to broaden one’s understanding of Muslims and Islam beyond restricting, backward paradigms, Abraham’s Children is a breath of fresh air and a heart-warming journey through Muslim identity in the land of opportunity.