Little Mosque on the Prairie, which is now in its second season, will for sure hit your funny bone, but it will also hit a raw nerve; Muslims in North America after September 11th.
Zarqa Nawaz, A Canadian from Pakistani roots, created the series that is cantered around a small mosque in fictitious town in the prairies called “Mercy”.
Acting as mini melting pot, Mercy accommodates different types of people. On the Muslims front, there is Hamoudi Family. Yasir Hamoudi [Yaasir ’Hammoody], the father, does not seem to be very concerned Islaam as much as he is concerned about his business.
His wife Sarah -who works for the mayor of Mercy- embraced Islaam but is not that happy with many of its teaching.
Rayyan [Rayyaan], their daughter, pious and outspoken, is a physician and is totally different than them.
There is also Fatima [Faa’timah], who comes from African roots. She runs a café and also runs on the same track as the old Imaam Baber does; they both think that while equals evil.
Babers’ daughter, Layla, is a teenager in struggle to live hip and satisfy her father’s requirements.
But this is not Babers’ main concern, because a new Imaam has arrived, Amaar [Ammaar]. A young, open-minded, ex-lawyer, freshly imported from Toronto is killing Baber with his “lax” decisions.
Non-Muslims include Fred Tupper. A paranoid host of the daily radio show who dedicates his morning program “Wake Up People” to incite the town against Muslims. On the other hand, Reverend Magee is so tolerant with Muslims and admits that his church is not as popular as the mosque.
Actually it was him who gave Muslims the chance to have a mosque by renting a part of his Parish to them.
Ann Popowicz is Mercy’s mayor. Her role in the series is not confined to encounter with Muslims –usually through her PR officer Sarah- but also encounter with the issue of women in power.
Your cheeks will hurt when you learn about the “Halaloween”, An Islaamic equivalent of the Halloween introduced by Ammaar, or when Baber -the over protective father -insisted to accompany the children- was rewarded with the greatest deal of candies because everyone though he was disguised as Osama Bin Laden!
Or when Yasir’s mother come from Lebanon and tries to convince Yasir to take a second wife and the hilarious -yet meaningful- chaos begins, or when an open house in the mosque ends up with an explosion.
The show was not flawless though. It had goofs such as a mistake in a verse of the Holy ’Qura~n recited by Baber in the first episode, or when Sarah tries to pray and jumps right from bed to the praying carpet without doing the ablution which is a must before praying.
She also seems to be fatigued and is praying all the time which is not true. Muslims pray five times a day and the prayer takes less than 5 minutes.
Humanisation through humourisation is the strategy of the series. It shows Muslims as normal human beings who might be good or bad or in between, who have their good side but also have flaws which could be funny.
That was the strategy of Seinfeld which aimed at normalising the Jewish character. Laughing could cure almost everything, including misinformation and even myths!
Appeared in I-MAG Magazine, 10th Issue.