In MOOZ-lum, writer/director Qasim “Q” Basir makes his feature film debut with a story about a Muslim-American named Tariq entering college. Tariq sees college as a place to reinvent himself as “T” after living a strict religious household with his father. He pushes him mom and sister away and stays distant from his Muslim roommate to ensure that a few lingering, unpleasant (to put it mildly) memories from a previous life at a madrasa do not surface. Yet with the onset of 9/11, Tariq has to figure out who he is and what he’s willing to stand up for.
MOOZ-lum truly is an amazing film. This movie could have easily been a preachy, heart-warming film about how good Muslims are but instead, Mr. Basir created a film that humanizes Muslims without it becoming an after school special on tolerance. Tariq’s crisis in faith is not an occurrence isolated to Muslims and therefore this isn’t a movie just for Muslims. I encourage everyone, despite which religion one belongs to (or doesn’t belong to), to watch MOOZ-lum because it’s an entertaining movie regardless, with a well told story and interesting characters. Even though there’s nary a car chase scene in sight, you will be on the edge of your seat at some moments in this movie. Don’t roll your eyes at that cliched statement – during one particular tense scene, I noticed that the girl sitting a few seats away from me was quite literally sitting at the edge of her seat, leaning forward, enthralled. It’s been a long time since something like that happened in the movies (maybe during Inception, I’ll grant you that;).
Many people have been clamoring for these narratives in the United States, with even Katie Couric suggesting that a Muslim version of “The Cosby Show” may help with the image of Muslims in America. Qasim Basir succeeds in adding to the Muslim-American narrative with MOOZ-lum, a great movie that can be appreciated by anyone.
MOOZ-lum opened in select cities on February 11th. It’s produced by Peace Films and stars Evan Ross, Nia Long, Roger Guenveur Smith, Summer Bishil, and Dorian Missick.