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Sacred and profane thoughts during an afternoon at the National Mosque.

Festivals:
 
2003 Torino Film Festival (European Premiere)
 
 
Review:
 
"A lovely take on religion" - Joan Lau, The Edge (12 August 2002)
 
 
Duration: 8 min.
Language: English
Shooting Format: DV (Colour)
 
 
Production Notes:
 
The National Mosque was actually the third one that I chose. The first two, Masjid India and Masjid Jamek, were unsuitable because the people kept staring at the camera in a way I found intrusive. But Masjid Negara is where the RTM crew is parked every Friday, so the congregation is a little more used to the attention. Although I have prayed there many times, this is the first time I brought a camera in and it was not a problem.
I decided to shoot the bulk of this in sepia to reflect the photographs from the era when the mosque was built, the 1960s. I broke into blue-tint while recounting a dream that still has an impact on me. Other than that, there are no effects.
I wanted to take the viewers on a chronological journey: from the arrival, lingering, ablution, listening (or not) to the sermon, and then leaving. I deliberately left out the prayer to emphasise that it's a private activity. The thematic focus is also not on the prayer itself but on what we do before and after it: when our actions, for better or for worse, form the impressions that others would have of the global ummah (Muslim community).
A friend of mine was offended by two lines here. One was the reference to the movie "Aliens" during the dream. Another is the joke about head-chopping at the end. My point for the first reference is to show how limited and indeed laughable the human imagination is when trying to come to terms with something sacred and unfathomable. As for the second, my point is that it's useless to protest about bad stereotypes of Muslims if we ourselves don't work at dispelling those negative ideas.
I decided to leave them in and to trust the viewer's judgement. 
 
 
Writer/Director/Camera/Producer: Amir Muhammad
Editor: James Lee
Extract from essay by Farish A. Noor
Post-Production Support: VHQ