Get notified on releases!
Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates.
Donald Trump becoming president is a real possibility and we Muslims are understandably worried about our future. However, despair is not a constructive emotion. So, it’s time to stop screaming into your pillow and start thinking about all the ways President Trump could improve your life.
Well, if you ‘forgot’ to file the paperwork to sponsor your (insert any annoying Muslim relative), president Trump has taken care of that for you.
“I’m so sorry darling, your cousin’s brother’s nephew, the one that grabbed my breast and claimed he was trying to break his fall, won’t be able to make it to junior’s wedding, President Trump thinks he may be a terrorist. Who are we to argue?”
In fact, for the indefinite future, you are free of pesky relatives who live overseas. But Trump is the gift that just keeps on giving. Are things not harmonious on the home front? There weren’t enough deep-fried samosas served this Ramadan? Well, let’s get that old ‘Ball and Chain’ into a real ball and chain. Deportations, I mean vacations to Cuba have never been easier. Club Guantanamo is the ‘Go To’ destination for Muslims who just need some time in the sun to think things over.
We don’t even know how many Muslims there are in America but thanks to Trump that’s going to change. He wants a database of all of us, but why stop there? He should also ask useful questions about our taste in food, clothes, and decorative habits as well as favorite accelerants.
For small businesses, this data would be a minefield – but in a good way. If you’re a start-up who wants to specialize in hand-knotted carpets, headscarves or fertilizer, you now have a handy dandy e-mail list of all the Muslims who share hobbies with you.
So, when you send out an e-flyer for your upcoming sale – ‘all the nitrogen you can carry’, you’ll also be able to open a booming side business consisting of halal hot dogs and lemonade feeding the good women and men from Homeland Security, the CIA and FBI who’ll be getting the munchies from photographing your shop all day.
Let’s face it, Muslims are American’s most despised religious group. And Trump jumps on the bandwagon of hate because we’ve made it too easy for him. With our obsessive need to pray five times a day, not drink alcohol, fast for a month, avoid sex outside marriage and cover our bodies not to mention ISIS and their reign of terror, people start to wonder if we’re just too serious.
We need a radical image change from people who like to stone to people who like to get stoned. Our community centers should be destinations for fun and excitement!
First up, kissing booths in front of mosques. Of course, the booths will have to be gender-segregated, men kissing men, which could also help eradicate both homophobia and Islamophobia at the same time – killing two birds with one stone (that a Muslim did not throw).
And don’t forget the wet t-shirt contests that mosques will invariably be promoting, but only for men because, you know, we don’t believe in objectifying women. Women can get to watch in an act of reverse sexism that surely Emma Watson could get behind.
Like moths to a flame, white supremacists are flocking to Trump as the daddy they lost when Hitler was so cruelly snatched away from them during in World War II.
Now that the Ku Klux Klan will be the new ‘it’ group in town, Muslims have a chance to make friends with people with whom they have many cultural overlaps. Both groups love their face coverings and long robes for different reasons. Muslims have been wearing this type of clothing to deal with stifling hot desert climates and modesty issues for centuries and the KKK, … to anonymously freak out and lynch black people, but let’s not quibble about our differences. Muslim women who wear niqab can give valuable tips on how to eat and breathe while covering their face while Muslim men have a lot of experience in how to maneuver in a robe while avoiding puddles and dog shit.
And white is a hard color to pull off: it’s harsh on the skin and those black soot stains from standing too close to burning crosses don’t come out easily. Sharing stain removal secrets could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Trump would like Muslims to be monitored more closely since clearly we haven’t been doing a good job of it ourselves, what with the occasional lone wolf escaping and causing irreparable carnage.
Constant surveillance of Muslims can have many positive side effects; any neighborhoods with Muslims living in it can be assured of having constant police presence. And if the police don’t have the extra manpower, armed vigilantes definitely do – finally, a way to employ people who have too much time and guns on their hands.
Home invasions are just warrantless searches so we don’t have to be afraid anymore. And Trump would like us to wear some sort of badge so we will be clearly identified. But just in case pinning a big ‘MUSLIM’ on your chest backfires, think of how great it would be for your cardio if you have to run for your life because you got mistaken for a terrorist.
Remember, even when it seems all hope is lost: think positive!
Zarqa Nawaz is the creator of the sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie, which currently streams on Hulu, and the author of the new comedic memoir, Laughing All the Way to the Mosque, published by Virago Press.
From The Huffington Post
Zarqa Nawaz went to journalism school and then realized that telling factual stories really wasn’t her thing. She wanted to have fun and so she began writing comedy, first for films and then with a lauded television series, Little Mosque on the Prairie, which aired on CBC until 2012. Nawaz has just finished a memoir, Laughing All the Way to the Mosque, which is as hilarious as her television show. It is so funny I had to share bits of the book with friends and my husband. She shows us Muslims are just like everyone else, funny and often carefree.
The conversation with Nawaz has been edited for length.
You offer an apology to your Muslim readers at the beginning of your book: “ …don’t think I’ve forgotten you. First, stop sulking. This book could have had confessions about drug problems, strange sexual fetishes and criminal activity — basically the stuff of white-people memoirs… There are no confessions of having sex while swinging from a chandelier… So you don’t have to be scared of this book.”
Why was it necessary to put this in your foreword?
When someone introduces me at the mosque, they note, “If you are going to be her friend you are going to wind up in a story she has written. She writes about everything we do, so be careful if you’re going to hang out with her.” Especially when Little Mosque on the Prairie was being made, I would use certain incidents that happened in the community in the show. So when they would talk to me, they would always preface everything, “I don’t want this to wind up somewhere. It’s a private thing.”
A lot of people say, “Why do you have to expose this stuff? A lot of white people already think we’re the dregs of humanity.”
Did you get a lot of grief from the Muslim community over Little Mosque on the Prairie?
At the beginning, from the more conservative elements, especially the immigrant element. For them the comedy wasn’t translating. I assumed everyone would find everything funny.
But growing up in Canada, we do have a different sensibility. It didn’t always cross over. At the beginning, people didn’t know who I was and what was happening and people thought I was making fun of Islam. There was that worry.
Islamophobia was at a high. The first show was set in the mosque and it was a comedy. To some people this was a shock. That wasn’t done at the time. Certain Muslims feel you shouldn’t make fun of everything. Certain Muslims believe everything should be serious. I wasn’t trying to make fun of Islam, I was making fun of Muslims. And that upset them. Comedy and satire are still fairly new in the Muslim world, so it was a difficult concept for them to absorb.
You moved to Saskatchewan from Toronto. How many Muslim families were there?
Actually, quite a few. There was a net population loss and the government of Saskatchewan changed the law to invite more immigrants.
Suddenly, overnight, entire villages around the world emptied out to move to Saskatchewan. It changed the face of the province. It reminds me very much of what it looked like in Toronto during the 1970s.
You write about the lunches your mother used to send with you to school, and how you really longed for tuna fish on white instead of curried chicken legs. Was it difficult in elementary school to be accepted by the other, mostly Christian, kids?
I think I was really shy as a child. We had just moved from England. We were immigrants and there was always something different about the way I dressed. I was trying to figure out why can’t I look like everyone else. My mother believed you shouldn’t be allowed to show your legs. I wore pants under my dresses. It was believed you were half-dressed if you don’t have pants. I looked a bit dorky and I was painfully shy and I had great difficulty making friends.
I wanted to look like everyone else. Kids are kids and they look at you. You don’t fit in.
I have this memory of my mom asking the kids at school to play with me, and they did. Probably in about Grade 3 or Grade 4 I started having best friends and closer relationships.
But with our writing and our comedy, we are coming into our own.
You use incidents from your own life to frame the stories of Little Mosque on the Prairie. I am thinking particularly of the use of hockey boards on the show to separate the men from the women. That did happen in your mosque, though it was a shower curtain that was employed. How much of Little Mosque is drawn from your own experiences as a religious woman growing up in a multicultural community?
When we started the show I was the only Muslim writer, so we had to borrow heavily from my life. There were seven to nine other writers, and I would tell stories from my life so we could spin them.
That happened until the show got going and took on a life of its own. But at the beginning that is what we had to do.
Where did you develop your amazing sense of humour?
It is just a question of how my brain works. Ultimately, that was why I had to leave journalism. It was probably because I was getting myself into trouble.
I was working for Morningside as a producer for Peter Gzowski but I could feel something inside of me, a sense of creativity that I couldn’t express as a journalist.
I made my first film and it turned out to be a comedy. I didn’t even realize I was good at comedy. But people were laughing. It was at that moment that I realized I could do satire.
People who grew up with me always said I seemed a little kooky or oddball. It was probably there and I didn’t recognize it and I made four films. By the time I started the TV show I got to work with great writers who were also stand-up comedians.
You are doing 20 episodes a season — you have to perfect the comedy and the jokes. It was incredible, the training I got over those years. The hardest thing about writing this book is that it was lonely. I thought no one is going to find this funny. They’ll think I am a fraud. It helps being a bit neurotic and worried.
I’ll drive by the mosque and I’ll call the imam if they haven’t cut the lawn. I’ll worry that people will say we are terrorists because the lawn hasn’t been cut. I am bit of a neurotic, constantly worrying and fretting. You wake up with fearsome mornings.
I fear it is just a matter of time before the mobs come. I worry that people believe we are going to take over the world and impose sharia. I live with that constant worry and tension. The only way I can calm down is with humour. It is probably a coping strategy to get through the day.
So what’s next? You have created an award-winning television comedy and written your memoirs. Do you have other career ambitions?
I think I wouldn’t mind trying my hand at a novel. I could tell a longer story and use my humour and sense of comedy.
I was talking to my literary agent the other day and said I’d really like to try my hand at a comedic novel. They were intrigued because there aren’t a lot of comedic books about Islam. Something akin to Confessions of a Shopaholic.
You are the mother of four children. How have you children reacted to your work?
Your own children are the least impressed with you. My eldest daughter, 20, read the book and said, “Yeah, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.” My 15-year-old boy is the one I wrote about when describing the circumcision, and he is at that age when he is embarrassed about everything. He said, “I can’t believe you wrote about me.” The youngest is the proudest. I asked him what part he was at and he said, “I’m at the part where you and Dad are having sex during Hajj.’
He’s the one who tells his friends he’ll sign the books when they come out.
We’ve just sold the UK rights, so it will come out in January in the UK under a different title, unfortunately. And then it will be sold around the world. They are debating a new title seriously as we speak. They wanted to borrow from the movie Some Like It Hot. And they wanted to call it “Some Like It Halal.” When they were shopping it around it didn’t do well with that title.
I am just tremendously relieved people find it funny. It still surprises me that people are laughing and they can relate to it.
Today, we celebrate a triumph. What arrives tonight on CBC is the smartest thing the broadcaster has done in years.
Little Mosque on the Prairie (CBC, 8:30 p.m.) is no masterpiece of comedy or social observation. It’s hokey as hell. But it’s terrifically good-natured, has a few terrific jokes and its mere existence is a grand-slam assertion that Canadian TV is different and that the best of Canadian TV amounts to a rejection of the hegemony of U.S. network TV.
The show has generated the sort of buzz that CBC has surely lacked. The last time there was this much fuss about a CBC initiative, the subject was The One, a disastrous foray into simulating U.S. network karaoke-show nonsense.
The buzz has been loud from the U.S. media, an indication that a comedy about as Muslim community trying to go about its business in a nice but narrow-minded Prairie town — enthralls and appalls the United States itself.
Last week on Paula Zahn’s program on CNN, Little Mosque on the Prairie was a hot topic. Clips from the show were aired and discussed. After the clips, Zahn declared, “You found that funny or no laughing matter? Will a show like that make it on American TV? Let’s ask our Out in the Open panel now.”
Then Kamal Nawash, president of the Free Muslims Coalition Against Terrorism, said, “I think it’s hilarious. I think it’s good. Unfortunately, when Muslims come on the air in the United States, usually they don’t smile, they’re very serious and so on. This [Little Mosque] is great. It shows we are all really human beings. When Muslims get together, we laugh and make fun of ourselves and we do make fun of others. And I think to show that is great.”
Cenk Uygur, a talk-radio host, said, “Once you make fun of something people go, ‘Wait a minute, you’re right, that’s silly. Of course not all Muslims are suicide bombers and of course they’re not all bad guys. I don’t know why I ever thought that.’ ” Then came an important bit of information. Zahn read from an e-mail to CNN from a viewer: “But Ruth in Virginia says, ‘I see no humour in Little Mosque on the Prairie. I see a Muslim and I think 9/11. This country has been without mosques since it began, and yes I see the religion in a negative light. I feel threatened by mosques being built in our country.’ ”
Right. But this is Canada and we pride ourselves on being more tolerant here. We roll our eyes at the paranoia and ignorance of Americans, and believe it’s legitimate to strengthen our tolerance by poking gentle fun at those who are intolerant, and even by poking fun at Muslims. After all, they are kinda wacky, like the rest of us.
Little Mosque on the Prairie is about a small Muslim community trying to get its act together. The Muslims in Mercy, Sask., need a mosque and a new imam, and they need to go about their lives without everybody thinking that they are all terrorists. As it opens, Yasir (Carlo Rota) is hustling the community into the Anglican church basement. They think it’s their new mosque, but Yasir has told Rev. Magee (Derek McGrath) that he’ll just be using the space as an office for his contracting business. After a local yokel (Boyd Banks) stumbles into the Islamic prayer service, he panics, calls the cops and the media, and everybody goes nuts.
Then, as members of the community and the new imam Amaar (Zaib Shaikh) face ludicrous questions about terrorists and al-Qaeda, the humour of the situation acts to underline the idiocy of prejudice and ignorance. And some of it is very funny.
“American Idol, Canadian Idol, I say all idols should be smashed. Desperate Housewives? Why should they be desperate when they’re only performing their natural womanly duties?
But it’s not just the yokels who bear the brunt of the humour. The elderly former imam Baber (Manoj Spood) tells his congregation to be aware of wine gums, rye bread and licorice because, well, there’s alcohol involved. On the matter of television, he says, “American Idol, Canadian Idol, I say all idols should be smashed. Desperate Housewives? Why should they be desperate when they’re only performing their natural womanly duties?”
The show’s creator Zarqa Nawaz has declared, “To me, this is not a political show, this is not about the Iraq war, it’s not about 9/11. First and foremost, it’s entertainment.” Well, it is about 9/11 and its reverberations. When the local yokel confronts the Anglican pastor about the church being used as a mosque, he’s told he shouldn’t worry — “This is just a pilot project.” The response is a horrified, “You’re training pilots?”
It’s notable that Little Mosque on the Prairie, while it’s a sitcom, isn’t derived from the U.S., network model. It has a British feel to it. The gentle mocking of a small community and celebration of the eccentrics within it has been a Britcom staple for years — shows such as Ballykissangel, Hamish Macbeth and Doc Martin have mined the genre with glorious results.
And the important thing is this — popular, consequential Canadian TV is a vigorous demonstration of our difference from the United States in our attitudes and national character. Trailer Park Boys celebrates lowlifes, dope-smoking and all manner of vulgarity. Da Vinci’s Inquest and Intelligence deal with the reality of a dope economy and the thin line between cops and criminals. Corner Gas asserts that there’s wonderful entertainment in the most gentle, never-nasty humour.
The topics and the substance of these shows stand as rejections of the U.S. network style and preoccupations. Little Mosque on the Prairie is nobly in that Canadian tradition. The U.S. media can huff and puff in wonder, but this is who we are, and we’re fine with it, thanks. And thanks to CBC for doing its job.
Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates.