Despite being revealed some 1,400 years ago, Islam's holy book is compatible with contemporary American values, Indian filmmaker Faruq Masudi argues in his new documentary that describes the Quran as a "matrix that leads you into a spiritual journey like none other."
Quran Contemporary Connections, set to be released online in the coming months, is a documentary-type film based on research by a group of American professors who were asked to delve deep into the minds of Muslims and find out if the Quran is out of step with modern times.
“In Islam, sex is a good thing. Allah is not a Muslim specific God; even Arabic speaking Jews and Christians use the word Allah in their liturgies. Polygamy is a blessing. Muslims do not worship Muhammad. Everybody is a born Muslim," were among the panel’s findings according to the documentary's website.
"The film talks about the major themes of the Quran, including the most controversial ones, like jihad, women, sex, polygamy, peace and violence," Masudi told AlArabiya.net.
Masudi explained that the documentary places Islam in a modern context and refutes the view that Islam is out-dated by linking the Quran to modern concepts like democracy, charity and diversity.
"There are so many similarities between Islam and the West because the Quran was meant to be for all of mankind, Muslims do not have a monopoly on Islam, on the book or on Allah," Masudi said.
In Islam, sex is a good thing. Allah is not a Muslim specific God; even Arabic speaking Jews and Christians use the word Allah in their liturgies. Polygamy is a blessing. Muslims do not worship Muhammad. Everybody is a born Muslim.
Masudi, who has produced several soap operas and television shows, said he was inspired to make the film to correct the general Western misconceptions about Islam, which spiraled out of control after the Sept.11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
"I made this film for the very obvious reason that we Muslims are being judged wrongly by non-Muslim communities and it was high-time a professional Muslim set the record straight," Masudi explained.
Islamophobes are constantly trying to create a divide between the faith and America whereas they are essentially very similar, he explained. Masudi described American people as "civil, sophisticated, polite and generous" and said these are in fact the core principles laid out in the Quran.
"The basic values are the same although the lifestyles may differ," he said.
The seasoned filmaker also argued that critics who say Islam does not grant women equal rights have it wrong because ayats, or verses, are twisted and taken out of context by Islamphobes to condemn Islam and by patriarchal Muslim societies to subjugate women.
"This subjugation is man-made and condemned by God, as Allah repeatedly says in the Quran that all creatures are equal in front of Him," Masudi explained.
There are so many similarities between Islam and the West because the Quran was meant to be for all of mankind, Muslims do not have a monopoly on Islam, on the book or on Allah
Media and Muslim failure
The media and Muslims are equally responsible for the negative misconceptions about Islam and both play a vital role, according to the filmaker.
"I don’t expect a media person to read the entire Quran before they do a story," he said, adding "I think we Muslims have failed, we should hold the responsibility of not communicating with the media in the right way, at the right time and at the right place.”
Quran Contemporary Connections aims to reach out to the media as well as government officials and decision makers to give them a "fresh first hand uncorrupted insight into what Quran is about."
Despite having received a good response from focus groups, the filmmaker said so far mainstream distributors have not been very sympathetic to the film and have shied away from putting it in the market.
Distributors have primarily criticized the film's lack of objectivity.
"What they actually mean is to do a 'Fitna' by a Muslim about the Quran, which I refuse to do," he said referring to the 2007 anti-Islam film released by far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders that has been widely condemned for equating Islam with terrorism.
Anti-Islamic films made by islamophobes purporting to delve into the teachings of the Quran like Fitna and the psuedo-documentary 'Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West' have gained notoriety in recent years, often monopolizing the media conversation about Islam’s teachings.
The biggest problem is the lack of intelligence in discussion about Islam, which though often passionate is full of extremism on both sides, he added, so too often people on either side miss the point entirely.
"Nobody has taken the trouble of looking into the Quran and seeing what it talks about," he said. This film will delve into the details and, he hopes, correct the destructive misconceptions propogated by films like Fitna and Obsession.
What they actually mean is to do a Fitna by a Muslim about the Quran, which I refuse to do
Filmmaker Faruq Masudi