I have just watched the episodes "Make me a Muslim" it is an English documentary about some ordinary British people who have decided to become Muslim for 3 weeks - it shows their trials, and struggles with trying to emulate Muslims in England. If you have the time please view the entire episode - this is the first link to it, there are 3 parts and each part has about 4-5 episodes
I first saw this on sister Ammena's blog and thought I would add my own comments - but realized it would have been too long to post and didn't want to take over her blog...so I hope you don't mind Ammena but I will post my thoughts here.
In general I liked the idea of exposing everyday, common people to the idea of Islam - no better way to get to know people than to live a 'day' in their life, or in this case three weeks. I liked how they showed what and how Muslims live, what Islam is about and how to practice it.
The idea of the experiment is a good one but I think it was a bit rushed and not thought out too well.
I am not one for criticizing people but there were some instances that the mentors were not behaving quite 'Islamically'. First was the fact that Mohamed was looking for women out on the street for Luke - I just don't think that he should have been interacting with the women like he was, and one of them was married! (or not single at least). They had repeatedly talked about no men and woman contact and interaction yet here he was walking the streets looking for a woman! I just think that if they were to keep such a strict guideline with the 'students' they had to follow what they preached. Still on the lines of modesty, I have to ask why Dawn was not the one to go through the clothing items with one of the women?? Was it really appropriate for the Muslim man to see and judge what was the correct item for the women to wear? Somehow that whole thing was annoying to me seeing her holding up a two piece bikini type underwear and saying to the Muslim man, 'I can't wear this on the beach?"
Other things that bothered me about it was how 'strict' the whole thing was, from the clothing to the fasting - was a bit 'too' much. I really don't think a lesson on the Ramadan fasting was best shown by letting them fast for seventeen hours! As well I feel there was just too much focus on the Hijab issue for the women. Ok, yes covering the head is an aspect of Islam, but I would have much rather them know that they had to dress modest, yet as well keep a modest 'tongue' and keep a modest attitude towards others. Dawn was the one who was in charge of teaching the women about covering, and while I can understand that it is frustrating to be constantly attacked and judged for wearing the scarf, she did not have to resort to attacking them back. I am specifically talking about when she was sitting with the women and one of them was resisting wearing the scarf and Dawn replies, " Well its been two weeks now and you have been told to wear it, and your just going to have to deal with it" (I can't recall the exact words right now) I just somehow felt she was very confrontational with them. I mean in 'real' life as Muslim women we struggle with this Hijab issue, while some of us wear it, many others do not, it is up to the individual if they will wear it - it should not be forced upon by anyone.
Ok, so enough criticizing, now on to the things I liked about this program.
Once again the premise for this is wonderful. They focused mostly on the way Muslims should be living, basically the ideal life of a Muslim - I like that they show that Muslims are 'human' and they are not really so different than the rest of the population, just have different habits and ways of doing things. I like how they got an interesting cross-section of people, everything from an actress to a gay man. I really liked the approach of Ajmal, and the calm way he speaks and treats the 'students', he would sit down with them and really listen to their concerns and address them. All in all, it is a great first step, and I as well would love to see a follow-up to this story. Interestingly that two of the 'students' had looked into Islam a bit more seriously, I think that is a great step. Hats off tot he people involved with this project, I can only imagine how hard it was for all those involved, 'students' and mentors alike - Inshallah all the participants have taken away something from the experience that will enrich their lives for the better.